To better aid in your understanding of our meeting proceedings, we have provided a step by step account of a typical Toastmasters meeting.
Bear in mind that the actual flow of events may vary from meeting to meeting, but we do strive for uniformity across the board.
Note also that all functionaries will be addressed as either a he or she, depending on the gender of the Toastmaster portrayed in the accompanying photographs. This is in no way an indication of the preferred gender for any meeting appointment; it is only to make my life a little easier.
07.00 p.m. - Registration and fellowship
Prior to commencing our meetings, 15 minutes is set aside for our Secretary to register guests and members. This is also the time for everyone to break the ice and familiarize themselves with each other.
07.15 p.m. - Warm-Up
The meeting's Sergeant at Arms (SAA) is the functionary in charge of this segment. He will usually kick start with a little warm-up routine.
Typical SAA routines range from using an adjective to describe yourself, to screening a funny YouTube video. His objective? To do anything to get your juices flowing. Absolutely anything!
07.25 p.m. - Welcome
Once the number one sidekick lets up on his warm-up routine, he "warmly" passes control to our host, the Toastmaster of the evening (TME).
The TME would, of course, be called the Toastmaster of the Day (TMD), if it were in the afternoon.
As the gracious host that he is, the TME will usually try to say a few meaningful words so as to set the tone for the meeting.
His responsibility? To bridge the gap between every single segment, so don't think that you have heard the last of him!
07.30 p.m. - Word of the evening
After the TME is done with all the pleasantries and formalities, he will call forth the fearsome enforcer of the English Language, the Language Evaluator (LE).
The LE is the protector and enforcer of the English lexicon and syntax (that's just a fancy way of saying vocabulary and grammar). She will listen intently to good use and misuse of the language and give her feedback at the end of the meeting.
It is also here, where she will introduce a "word of the evening" and touch on its pronunciation and usage. The obscurity of the word will depend on the personal preference of the LE, though we are all advised to use it often and well.
07.3X p.m. - Intermission
As you are already aware, all intervals are handled by the TME, and I will no longer mention his name. Just understand that he is there; we are just not paying him any heed.
07.35 p.m. - Opening address
The club President will now give his opening address and you will not know what he has to say until, well, he has said it. But he is the man who gives at least two speeches at every meeting: an opening and a closing, so let's pray that it is always good.
07.40 p.m. - Prepared speeches
We have now come to the "meat" of the meeting, the prepared speeches.
This is the part where five Prepared Speech Speakers (PS) will present speeches based on projects from Toastmasters International's Communication and Leadership program manuals.
Each project is designed to develop and train a different aspect of public speaking, from speech organization, voice, language, gestures to persuasion. The average time allocated to each project, is on average 5-7 minutes.
This segment helps nurture our speakers to become confident and competent communicators, as per the namesake of the manual.
08.25 p.m. - Timer's report
The Timer will now report the speakers' timing.
The real objective of keeping watch on the time, stems from the need for speakers to speak within their allotted time, a mandatory quality of any good speaker!
08.30 p.m. - Project evaluations
"There can be no progress without mistakes, just don't make new ones", that is the guiding principle behind Project Evaluations.
Project Evaluators (PE) exist to help speakers notice faults that they themselves are oblivious to. They do so by giving a verbal and written commentary, detailing a speaker's strengths and weaknesses along with suggestions for improvement. These constructive evaluations are essential to the growth and progress of any speaker, and is a cornerstone of the much lauded Toastmasters education.
The whole revolving theme, if you have not noticed by now, is inline with our club motto of "Learn, Share, Grow".
08.55 p.m. - Timer's report
Again the Timer will tell you if you spoke within limits. If not it's the "Red" light for you!
09.00 p.m. - Refreshment break
Next up, the beloved refreshment break. This is the time for guests, and members, to continue from where they left off during the fellowship segment. It is also the time where we get to savor the light snacks lovingly prepared for us by our diligent and capable Welfare Officer.
Of course, you don't need me to tell you that this is also the time when you should visit the water closet (W.C.), to attend to some *ahem* business.
09.20 p.m. - Table Topics
Welcome back! The second session starts off with one of the most interesting and fun segment of the Toastmasters program, the Table Topics!
The Table Topics is a unique portion of the meeting where anyone can volunteer to attempt an assigned topic and speak impromptu, and off-the-cuff, for 1-2 minutes.
The Table Topicsmaster (TTM) is the one who administers this segment, and he will put up topics that range from pure silly, like "Zhang Ziyi and me, why not?", to more serious discussions about "why we should adopt children in Africa". The fun part is that you will never know what you are going to get!
Whatever the topic, the sole aim of Table Topics (hey, it rhymes) is to train participants to think quickly on their feet and react appropriately. This is especially important if you consider the number times when we are called upon to speak without prior preparation. As the saying goes, "if you graduate from Table Topics, speaking any and everywhere will never be a problem".
09.35 p.m. - Timer's report
Again the Timer will let you know if you have passed!
09.40 p.m. - Ah-Counter's report
The Ah-Counter has been secretly documenting the number of pause-fillers that you have used, pause-fillers like hum, okay and alright; words, phrases or sounds that detract from the overall effectiveness of your delivery and message.
Our club policy dictates that members who commit more than 5 pause-filling offences will pay 10cents for every count, payable up to a maximum of S$1. All proceeds will go towards fellowship building activities. Nonmembers are exempted from this rule.
This is where he will read out your "score", but this is one "test" that you are better off failing.
09.45 p.m. - Language evaluation
The language evaluation segment will see to the comeback of the almighty Language Evaluator. It is here where she will enlighten us on our misuse of words, phrases, grammar and pronunciation, along with her recommended corrections. She will also highlight creative phrases uttered by the speakers and their purported meaning.
Lastly, she will report on the number times that you have used her "word of the evening". Let's see your score!
If all goes well, we would have picked up a few cool phrases, a little English knowhow and a feeling of "richness". Hooray!
09.55 p.m. - Awards & closing address
Now the end is in sight. Just wait for Mr. President to give out the awards for the best Prepared Speech Speaker, Table Topics Speaker and Project Evaluator. Let's not forget that closing of his too; he is the "at least two speeches per meeting" dude after all.
10.00 p.m. - The end
We are homebound! But before you go, take some time to chat up the rest and don't forget to congratulate the winners while you are at it, they deserve it!
Now that you have read our meeting walkthrough, why not sit in and experience the real thing firsthand? Contact us today!