Frequently Asked Questions
- 1: What is Toastmasters?
- 2: How is Toastmasters organised?
- 3: Do I have to ask permission before attending a meeting of a club in my area?
- 4: How does one go about joining Toastmasters?
- 5: How much does membership cost?
- 6: What happens at a meeting?
- 7: What's a "prepared speech?"
- 8: What speech projects are there for me to work on?
- 9: What is "Table Topics?"
- 10: What is Evaluation?
- 11: What's all this emphasis on time limits?
- 12: Why all this structure to the meeting?
- 13: I'm scared to death of speaking! Why should I look into Toastmasters?
- 14: How is Toastmasters more beneficial than other forms of speaking improvement?
- 15: Can I belong to more than one club?
- 16: If I belong to more than one club, do I have to pay full dues for each?
- 17: What do I get for my dues?
- 18: What do I get for my New Member fee?
- 19: If I want to drop out of Toastmasters after joining, what do I do?
- 20: How receptive are clubs to new members?
- 21: If I join, will they make me speak right away?
- 22: What meeting roles are there?
- 23: What are your policies on data and privacy?
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. The organisation has over 360,000 members. Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 16,400 clubs in 141 countries that make up the global network of meeting locations.
The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program. Every Toastmaster’s journey begins with a single speech. During their journey, they learn to tell their stories. They listen and answer. They plan and lead. They give feedback—and accept it. Through our community of learners, they find their path to leadership.
Toastmasters empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. It provides a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.
All Toastmasters members belong to one or more clubs. The recommended size for a club is about twenty to thirty members.
There are thousands of clubs around the world. There are many sorts of clubs: community clubs, military clubs, company clubs, prison clubs, college clubs and so on.
If you're visiting a community club, it might not be a bad idea to let them know you're coming so they can tell you any details, like what time members arrive. Community clubs are almost always open to all and they'll be delighted to have you come to the meeting.
Unlike some other organisations, where one must have a sponsoring member who invites you to the meeting and introduces you to the group, Toastmasters welcomes all guests. If the club is open to membership from the community, you will usually be offered a membership application at the end of the meeting.
If you have visited a club and found it to your liking, ask a member (preferably an officer, who is more likely to be able to help you) for an application form.
Upon joining Toastmasters, you will find yourself paying two fees. One is the £25 fee that every new member must pay in order to receive educational materials. One is the monthly dues of £10 per month.
All Toastmasters clubs are billed in March and September for semi-annual dues for their members who wish to remain members for the next six months. If you join in between those periods, you submit a pro-rata share of the dues.
The format varies slightly from club to club, but the basics include:
• introduction of the Toastmaster of the Meeting, who presides over the program that day and explains the meeting as it goes along
• prepared speeches from members (of which more below)
• impromptu speeches from members (also known as Table Topics, of which more below)
• oral evaluations of the prepared speeches (of which more below)
• reports from other evaluation personnel, such as speech timer, grammarian, "ah" counter, wordmaster, and General Evaluator.
Meetings last about two hours.
When you join Toastmasters, you will gain access to Pathways, which is Toastmasters’ educational program. Each project calls on you to prepare a speech on a subject of your own choosing, but using certain speaking principles. Each project lists the objectives for that speech and includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when evaluating the speech.
If you are scheduled to speak at a meeting, you generally log in to Pathways a week or two in advance and put together a speech on whatever you like, but paying attention to the goals and objectives for that speech. Then, when you go to the meeting, you hand the evaluation criteria to your evaluator and that person makes written comments on the checklist while you speak. Your evaluator will give you an oral evaluation as well in the club meeting.
When you start your Toastmaster journey, you will take the Pathways Assessment online. There are ten different learning paths and the Pathways Assessment will help you identify the path that best meets your needs, interests and goals. After responding to a series of questions, you will be presented with the path that best fits you and your current experience.
Each of the 10 paths is unique:
Each path is divided into five levels that build in complexity. The levels help you build on and apply what you have learned.
LEVEL 1: Master the Fundamentals.
LEVEL 2: Learning Your Style.
LEVEL 3: Increasing Knowledge.
LEVEL 4: Building Skills.
LEVEL 5: Demonstrating Expertise.
Table Topics is fun! It calls on you, the guest or member, to present a one to two minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until the moment you get up to speak! A member of the club assigned to be Topicsmaster will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on members (or guests, if they've given consent in advance to being called on) to stand up and speak on the topic.
The Evaluation program is the third of the three main parts to the meeting. All prepared speakers, as noted above, should have their project evaluation criteria with them and should have passed them on to the evaluators beforehand. During the speech, and after, each person's evaluator should make written notes and furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute oral evaluation.
A good evaluator will say "here's what you did well, and here's why doing that was good, and here are some things you might want to work on for your next speech, and here's how you might work on them." It's important to remember that the evaluator is just one point of view, although one that has focused in on your speech closely.
Other members of the audience can give you written or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel important.
As noted above, speeches have time limits, Table Topics have time limits (1-2 minutes, usually) and evaluations have time limits (2-3 minutes, usually).
This is in order to drive home the point that a good speaker makes effective use of the time allotted and does not keep going and going until the audience is bored. In the real world, quite often there are practical limits on how long a meeting can or should go; by setting time limits on speeches and presentations, participants learn brevity and time management and the club meeting itself can be expected to end on schedule.
Meetings generally are not complicated once you get used to the timing lights and the different roles members of the group play.
Since the average club is expected to have 20 or more members, you need a lot of roles for people to play in order to involve everyone. And, since meeting assignments vary from meeting to meeting, everyone gets practice doing everything over the course of several meetings.
One meeting, you'll be assigned to give a speech; the next, you might be timer; the next, you might be the Toastmaster of the Meeting, running the whole show. It keeps you flexible and it keeps you from having to prepare a speech EVERY meeting.
In poll after poll, "public speaking" comes up as more feared than "death." Public speaking is the number #1 fear. You are no different. Even if you think you are really good at speaking, there will be times when your heart stops and your palms sweat and you freeze before an audience. Toastmasters can help with that.
Remember that EVERYONE in a Toastmasters club is there because at some point they realised they needed help communicating and speaking before audiences. Almost everyone will remember how wretched they felt when they gave their first speech. Toastmasters clubs are really supportive.
If you are aware of how nervous you are, but aren't convinced that you should do anything about it, stop and think what skill is more important than any other when it comes to getting and keeping a good job?
Think you are already an excellent speaker? People who think they're really good come to Toastmasters to learn how to improve. Being comfortable doesn't mean that you're actually GOOD. Even if you ARE good, you can always get better. Toastmasters can give you a lot of skills and keep good speakers improving.
If you still don't know whether you'd like Toastmasters, why not visit a meeting? If you still don't think it's your cup of tea, we'll still be happy you came by.
Toastmasters is constant reinforcement and constant improvement. You learn by doing, not by sitting there while someone lectures for hours.
Yes. This is called "dual membership" even if you belong to more than two clubs. When you join the second club, of course, you don't need to pay the New Member fee, because you don't need a second set of starter materials.
Yes. If you belong to more than one club, you must nonetheless pay the full monthly dues for each club.
Your semi-annual dues paid to World Headquarters goes partly for a subscription to the Toastmaster magazine (which, to be honest, is an excellent magazine), partly to support development of new educational programs, partly to support operations at World Headquarters (i.e. the staff who process membership applications, applications, new club applications, etc. etc. ad nauseam) and partly to support your local District organisation.
Your club dues generally go to pay for the costs of hiring the meeting venue and club equipment such as ballots, awards, ribbons and educational materials.
Your New Member fee gets you the following:
• Complete access to Pathways, which is Toastmasters’ educational program.
• Speaking and leadership opportunities.
• Written and oral evaluations of your speeches.
• Complete access to many other resources downloadable from the Toastmasters website.
Simply wait for March or September to arrive and don't pay your dues again.
It is important to let your Vice President Education know that they should stop scheduling you for speeches.
Since most people are genuinely terrified of public speaking, Toastmasters has its hands full recruiting members. There's virtually no chance that you won't be enthusiastically welcomed into any club you join and immediately be considered one of the gang.
It a good idea to visit ALL Toastmasters clubs in your area before deciding which one you want to join.
No. You will not be asked to speak unless you're ready to. If you feel more comfortable waiting a few months, that's fine. Most clubs attempt to arrange the meeting schedules in such a way that most members are involved in some capacity at each meeting, so you'll need to let them know what your wishes are.
The Timer. This role exists so that speakers can practise giving presentations within length-specific parameters. This becomes especially helpful for those who must give regular presentations at work, or who would like to take on the public speaking circuit. After all, professional speakers are typically given time limits.
The Ah Counter. This person counts the "ums," "ahs," and other filler words people typically use when they feel lost or nervous during a speech. By having someone report our filler words back to us, we become more aware of them, and learn that simply pausing can be the better option, and convey a higher level of confidence to our audience.
The Grammarian. The grammarian pays attention to the speakers' skill with grammar, and also brings us the word of the day, as a means of helping us build our vocabulary.
The Toastmaster. This person leads the entire meeting. This role helps build public speaking skills and leadership skills.
The Table Topics Master. This person prepares a set of questions and then poses them to meeting attendees, encouraging them to come on up and speak off-the-cuff.
The General Evaluator. This person evaluates how the meeting went as a whole. Again, this role helps build public speaking, listening, and leadership skills.
The Speech Evaluators. Basically, you're honing your listening skills, and you're using everything you learned at various meetings, from various evaluations, and in your workbook to give someone else constructive feedback. Audience members in general are particular well-qualified to evaluate speeches. After all, no one knows better than them how a speech moved them, whether it was confusing, whether it was effective or whether it was boring.
OXFORD ORATORS PRIVACY AND CONSENT NOTICE
Oxford Orators Toastmasters Club takes your privacy very seriously. This notice explains what personal data the club collects, how the club collects it, how it is used, the conditions under which the data may be disclosed to others, and how it’s kept secure.
If you choose to agree to this Privacy Notice then we will send a copy of this Privacy Notice to the email address you provide for your own records.
Who we are and how you can contact us
We are Oxford Orators - a Toastmasters International Club (club number 1045890). You can contact us at any time at email@example.com
The information we collect
If you are a guest or a visitor, we will collect your name and email address on our sign-in sheet. In addition, if you are either a member of our club already, or choose to become a member in future, we will collect your name, email address, mobile phone number, home phone number, gender and postal address on the membership registration form.
During club meetings we may take photos of our members and of club visitors, including you. We may use these photos to publicise our club through a variety of media including the club, district and Toastmasters International websites as well as through our social media accounts such as Facebook, Twitter or Linked in.
Why we collect this information
We collect your information so that we can keep in contact with you about Toastmasters meetings and special events. If you are a member of the club already or choose to become a member in future, Toastmasters International (our governing body) use your information so they may keep in contact with you directly.
Who we share your information shared with and where we store it
As a club we use a variety of tools to communicate with our members and these are described in turn below:
1. Toastmasters International - Leadership Central & Base Camp
Toastmasters International provides you with the resources that will support you as a member of Toastmasters through services such as the Base Camp platform.
If you are a member of the club already or choose to become a member in future, we will share your name, email address, home phone number, mobile phone number, gender and postal address with Toastmasters International, which is located in the United States, who may in turn share your personal information with third-party service providers whom they use to perform certain functions on their behalf (for example sending postal mail).
Sharing this personal information with Toastmasters International is necessary in order for you to be registered as a member of this Toastmasters club, Oxford Orators, which operates under license from Toastmasters International.
You agree to receive email and postal communications from Toastmasters International when we complete the membership registration process on your behalf. Once we have registered you with Toastmasters International you can manage the privacy settings for your personal information and opt-out of receiving information from Toastmasters International by post or email at any time. Our club committee can assist you with this.
Through Easy-Speak you agree to receive email communications from our club, as well as special notifications that relate to our Toastmasters Area, District and Division. Within your Easy-Speak profile you can manage the privacy settings for your personal information, change your username, and opt-out of receiving future email notifications at any time. Our club committee can assist with this.
3. Email and telephone
Our club will communicate with members by email or phone about matters concerning club management, meeting organisation, Toastmasters events and social events. Club officers will maintain contact lists of names, phone numbers and email addresses in accordance with this privacy notice.
You agree to receive email and phone communications from club officers about matters relating to club and meeting management, and club events. You can opt out at any time by contacting the club secretary on firstname.lastname@example.org
Access to your personal information
● Club Officers can access your personal information through Easy-Speak, TMI Leadership Central and Base Camp.
● Your email address will be shared with other club members if it is necessary, in order to facilitate organisation of meetings and proper functioning of the club.
Protecting your information
In order to protect your personal information we have a best practice policy in place for our club committee, detailed below:
Oxford Orators best practice policy to ensure that club officers protect your personal information:
We as club officers of Oxford Orators Toastmasters agree to follow the best practice guidelines set out below:
● We will ensure that we foster a policy of using secure passwords on all systems which we use as a club and for all personal systems through which we have access to any club personal information.
● Any paper copies of club records will be kept securely in one location and will be destroyed when membership ceases.
● We will ensure that we have obtained consent from all guests and members to process their personal information. We will maintain records of consent.
● We will ensure that access to personal information is limited to our Club Officers.
● We will ensure that any systems which club officers use that hold personal information are password protected.
● Club Officers are encouraged to ensure that any computers which they use to access systems containing personal information have the latest software/security installed.
Keeping and deleting your information
The membership registration forms on which we collect your personal information will be stored either as a hard copy and kept securely, or scanned and stored on a digital drive which is accessible only to club officers.
If you cease to become a member of this club, we will contact you to ask whether you wish us to continue to hold your personal information. If we do not hear from you within 30 days we will destroy any hard copies, and delete your personal information from our database and from Easy-Speak as soon as possible after the 30 day period. Your information is retained by Toastmasters International, but is removed from the visible Club Central listing.
How to access the information held about you, and how you can correct it or have it deleted
You may also contact us to:
● obtain a record of the information we hold about you.
● ask us to correct information that you think is inaccurate. We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date.
● ask us delete any personal information we hold about you under your right to be forgotten.
If you have any complaints, please email our club secretary, addressing your email to email@example.com for the attention of the Data Protection Team. If you have raised a complaint with us and are still dissatisfied, you may report your concern directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office.