This year I am making an effort to become a better public speaker by participating in a local Toastmasters (specifically, Pacers Toastmasters) group.
When I tell people I joined Toastmasters, they usually know it is a public speaking and leadership club but they don’t know about and are often curious about what goes on at a typical meeting. Here’s a quick summary:
- Prepared speeches: 4 members give prepared and (hopefully) rehearsed speeches that range from 5-10 minutes in length, and one member gives a short inspirational speech that is a minute or two in length.
- Evaluations: Each of the 4 prepared speeches is evaluated by an evaluator. The evaluator gets up in front of the members and spends up to 2 minutes discussing positive aspects of the speech as well as areas for improvement. There is also a General Evaluator who evaluates the evaluators as well as the speakers who delivered the prepared speeches.
- Table Topics: One of the members leads a session of extemporaneous speaking, where he/she invites each member up to the stage to give a 1-2 minute speech on a topic that was only revealed to them as they came up on stage.
- Grammar and Timer Reports: One member is responsible for counting and reporting on all of the “filler words” (umms, ahhs, you knows, etc) used during the speeches and evaluations. Another member is responsible for timing all of the speeches, and at the end of the meeting shares those times with the group. They also give you the hook if your speech runs beyond its allotted time :)
If you have interest in improving your public speaking skills, you owe it to yourself to check out a local Toastmasters chapter meeting. Our club welcomes guests who pre-register, so that they can get a sense of what the club, and Toastmasters in general, is all about. If you think you might be interested in checking out the club, visit our website and follow the directions related to attending meetings as a guest.. We’re a pretty welcoming bunch!