Toastmasters: Why Participating in this program could change your life

Have you heard about Toastmasters, but have no idea what actually goes on? You’ve probably heard that they do public speaking and thought, “I should try that.”

I’ve been a Toastmaster for almost two years. Here’s what you can expect to see at a meeting:

  • There’s a Toastmaster of the Day who runs the meeting
  • Usually 2-3 prepared speeches (5-7 minutes long)
  • Evaluators stand up and give 2-3 minute evaluations of each speech– what was good about it, and how the speaker could improve.
  • A “Table Topics” Master comes to the front of room and asks different people impromptu questions that they must answer in the form of a 2-minute speech. This is my favorite part of the meeting, but a lot of people HATE this, because it puts them on the spot!
  • The timer and grammarian give brief reports about how everyone did on time and grammar.

And that’s it.

Now, that doesn’t sound like a whole bunch of pure speech making, does it? But thanks to Toastmasters I learned some valuable skills:

  • How to listen better (although for me, this is still a work in progress).
  • Evaluating and analyzing what makes a good speech and how people can improve (for example, create a clear structure, make eye contact, etc).
  • Thinking on your feet
  • Running a meeting and ensuring everything starts and ends on time (The Toastmaster of the Day is truly a Master of Ceremonies).

If you haven’t joined a club, I encourage you to visit, type in your zip code, and find clubs in your area. Finds a couple that work for you, and then contact them to see if you can attend their meeting as a guest. Virtually every club allows this (except for company clubs).

Narrow down your club of choice based on how comfortable you feel. Personally, I love my club because the officers stick to the above meeting structure, and finish the meeting within an hour. Other clubs can be a little bit looser on the regulations, so decide what makes you comfortable and go with that.

Once you join, use each meeting to evaluate a speech, be Toastmaster of the Day or (of course) give a speech. Use every opportunity to build your confidence, and you’ll find yourself really satisfied with the results.


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