Links for Members

Training, workshops, contests, event editor and more!

Meeting documents, our procedures, guides and Roll of Honour

Contact any club, plus our District Officers

A walk through our education programme

For those needing to make changes to THIS site; should you be using www.toastmasters.org instead?

The Club Meeting

This page is intended mainly for newer members

The Club Meeting and its Roles

What Does a Meeting Normally Look Like?

Don’t believe a Toastmaster when he or she talks about a “normal” meeting! There is no such thing, unless you define it as “A meeting that achieves the club mission“. 

The club meeting and the roles members play is a good example of how Toastmasters works. Many new members need help the first time round, while experience helps you develop your own style. Toastmasters International provides a framework which members and clubs can interpret as they wish. For example, many clubs in New Zealand combine the Ah Counter role with the Grammarian.

Aren’t they All the Same?

There are no hard and fast rules for club meetings, just general agreement that the basic structure (facilitators, speakers and evaluators) works. The club is free to make up its own agenda and culture. Some common variations are:

These are just examples; if your club does something you’d like to share, please tell our Webmaster about it, with a one-sentence description.

A theme is always a good idea as it adds energy. This is usually the Chairman’s choice, along with a few examples – and is best decided and communicated well in advance. Other roles have the challenge of falling in with the theme if they wish.

“Open house” meetings are a great way to attract guests as they can be well-advertised. Learn about the steps in planning these – and remember, yours will be quite different. An open house needs to reflect the club’s culture.

A “backwards” meeting is just that – held in reverse. In its simplest form, speakers need to pay attention  to evaluators’ comments – and evaluators have to learn not to demand too much. Tricky to organise, they can be a lot of fun and a good team-building exercise. For some ideas, try this Google search link.

As Chairman, your Vice President of Education is there to help, but its your meeting to run as you wish. Your role is to run the agreed agenda so the meeting fulfils the club mission.

Chairman or Chairperson?

“Chairman” is considered gender-neutral. The Westminster Parliament has only one chair, for the Speaker of the House; the members sit on “benches”. The Chairman, then, was the person who used the chair and held the “MAN”uscript (or agenda) – or “MAN”aged the meeting.

Again, its your meeting – you have the right to tell it how “the Chair” should be addressed. The principle is that only one person has the authority to decide how the meeting proceeds.

Everything We Do Is Evaluated

Evaluation is the basic leadership principle of Toastmasters

What is a “Pathways Evaluation”?

Evaluation is in essence constructive criticism, with encouragement to improve and some tips for improving (in the evaluator’s opinion) thrown in. Prior to Pathways, it had a simple structure:

  • Commendations, usually around the speakers’ objectives
  • Recommendations, again around the objectives
  • Commendations around what made the speech memorable
  • A summary that reiterated the main points

The change of education programme to Pathways standardised evaluation to a degree. Many still use the structure above, but some have taken to using a “Commend – Recommend – Challenge” structure, and again this is one evaluator’s opinion only. In addition, the evaluator can comment on specific areas of delivery on the second part of the evaluation form.

The Challenge comment highlights an area that, if done, could have improved the speech. The key point, however, is to encourage – and that has not changed at all.

What Has This Page Missed?

Like many organisations, Toastmasters has a confusing list of abbreviations, most of which you’ll absorb over time. You’ll find a fairly full list of TLAs (Three-Letter Acronyms) at allacronyms.com.

If  you find something else you believe belongs on this page – because it helps a newer member make sense of club meetings, please suggest it on this page.