Toastmasters – A typical club meeting – 2

This is the second post in the series of posts on Toastmasters International. You can read the first post here.

In the last post, I talked about the organizational structure of TMI at the global level. In this post  I shall talk about organization structure of a typical club and its meeting.

A typical toastmasters club has seven main officers – 

  1. President
  2. Vice President – Education
  3. Vice President – Membership
  4. Vice President – Public Relations
  5. Treasurer
  6. Secretary
  7. Sergeant at Arms

These seven officers together constitute the “TM Committee”. In addition, typically the immediate past president of the club also participates in the committee meetings in an advisory role. The committee is usually elected by means of voting by the past committee members. Any club member can be nominated for any of the roles by another member or through self nomination. I shall talk in detail about the roles that each of the committee member is expected to play in a separate post.

Moving on to a typical meeting structure, a club meeting is conducted once every week or once in two weeks and is 45 minutes to two hours long, as per the club members convenience. The meeting frequency and duration also depends on the number of members and should be decided such that each member gets to speak or play a role at least once every third meeting or so. My home club, when 30 members strong, used to meet once every two weeks for two hours.

Before a meeting 

Meeting venue is decided and communicated to all the members, along with an agenda sheet showing different roles and role players. Arrangement for snacks is done (if required, though IMHO they do add to attendance and fun!); permissions are taken and arrangements for photography and videography are made; a list of guests who may be attending the meeting is prepared (though walk-ins are always welcome, in a closed club  may have policies regarding having guests and thus it is a good practice to have the list in place; the club material is checked, especially the items which would be required in the meeting such as Gavel, ribbons, Timer Cards, Stop Watch etc. A theme is chosen and communicated for the meeting and all the role players are informed and confirmed. A typical agenda sheet looks like the one that I have attached below. This is actually a mini version to accommodate agenda (role players information), ballot and feedback on a single sheet.  Agenda-Ballot-Feedback

But you can get as detailed as you wish. In fact it was the minute to minute agenda in the meeting which I attended as a guest which made me interested in the club more than anything else. So here is a detailed agenda sheet sample for you – Agenda

On the day of the meeting

The room is set up (chairs, tables, visual aids if required, all the meeting requisites such as the gavel, ribbons, timer cards, stop watch etc.) by the Sergeant at arms (SAA). The room has a sign hung up on the entry door to inform everyone that the meeting is in progress and should not be disturbed. Here is a sample of the standee if you wish to use – Standee. Entrants sign in a register to mark their attendance. The SAA opens the meeting, signaled by the gavel. The club president/ Toastmaster of the day (TMOD) welcomes everyone, especially the guests and then introduces the theme. Then the TMOD takes over and the meeting begins functionally.

A typical meeting has three major sections – prepared speech, evaluation and table topics.

The first part or the ‘prepared speech‘ section has two to four speakers coming on the stage in order. Each of the speaker presents a 5-7 minutes speech that they have prepared in advance. The speech preparation is done in accordance with the objectives of the project they are pursuing from their manual.

The second part or the ‘evaluation‘ section involves evaluators evaluating the prepared speeches delivered in the first section on the project specific as well as overall public speaking objectives. There are as many evaluators as prepared speakers and each of them listens to their respective assigned speech in great detail so as to offer a meaningful, constructive, 2-3 minutes long feedback for the speakers to learn from. However if there aren’t enough role players available then one evaluator may evaluate more than one speech. This section also involves the overall meeting evaluation by the General Evaluator (GE) in terms of punctuality, quality, decorum and so on. The GE has his/ her team of Grammarian, Word Master, Ah Counter, Timer, Listener etc. to help him do this tough job. Don’t worry by the gamut of roles that I have mentioned so far. I shall be covering these roles and their responsibilities in a separate post in detail. For now, suffice to know that all these role players are an important part of the meeting.

The third, last and one of the most interesting sections of a TM meeting is ‘Table Topics‘. Here a table topic master has certain topics with him/ her and he provides a topic each to the volunteers from among the audience. The volunteers are supposed to speak on these topics on the fly for 1-2 minutes. Guests are encouraged to take part to feel more connected and involved with the group. The impromptu speaking typically has great scope for laughter.

Following the three sections, there is a voting done on the Best Speaker, Evaluator, Table Topic Speaker and Role Player to encourage  further participation. The winners are provided with ribbons as a give away.

In the end, the guests are invited to speak on their experience. Some clubs decide on the next meeting role players in the meeting itself. There are many a variations in the structure, roles and conduct of a meeting based on the club members interest.

After the Meeting

<

p>The club properties are accounted for and collected by the SAA. Guests are encouraged to stay back and ask questions. VP Education records the details of projects completed in the meeting and follows up on the educational goals of individual members as well as the club as a whole. VP membership can give membership forms to the guests and VP PR can use this opportunity to spread word about the club. Treasurer records all the expenditure incurred while the secretary makes any relevant announcements. But beyond all of this, the best thing about the ‘After the Meeting’ time is networking and meeting with like minded people to develop great friendships! 🙂

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