Tips For Newbies
You guessed it - This page is intended mainly for newer members
This page is intended to help you make sense of the huge amount of information Toastmasters throws at you when you join. This is not a “How to” manual – more a look at things our members have said “I wish I’d known that earlier“.
List of Tips
Tip #1 – Every member is there to help every other
This means questions are not just OK – they’re expected!
No-one likes to admit they don’t know – but you are not expected to. What you probably need is a place to start, and that is
- Your mentor, when (not if) you have one, or if you don’t:
- Your Vice President of Education, or:
- Any member you happen to be talking to
The hardest thing to convince a new member of is that websites can only go so far, and there is always someone to ask. Its also the most rewarding thing, because that is how you find mentors. All you have to remember is:
We are not teachers. No Toastmaster is there to tell you what to do – they are there to show you what you could do, and help you to start doing it.
Tip #2 – Build a Library of Ideas
“Ideas are like rabbits. First you get a couple, then pretty soon you have a dozen” – John Steinbeck.
The one thing many newer members find hard to do is to find that place to start. Here are some ideas that may open doors – whether you walk through them is up to you.
- Get a small notebook or two. You never know when an idea will strike – Agatha Christie had her best ones while doing the washing up – but you do know that if you don’t capture it, you’ll lose it
- Google works best if you give it three words to chew on, not two. If in doubt, add “toastmasters” or “zealand” to your search
- Some find speech ideas are hard to find. Start with yourself – your interests, activities, hobbies, viewpoints. Run them past the people in Tip #1
- Learn how to buy time, starting with Table Topics – especially if you like to have a few seconds to put your answer together. This is what honorifics (such as “Fellow Toastmasters”, or “Ladies and Gentlemen”) are for. Repeat the topic, pausing before and after that. That gives you ten or so seconds to think – and the audience will never know.
- Explore the Resources area at www.toastmasters.org
- You can search www.toastmasters.org by item number, that’s why they give them to you. For a start, try 199, 201 and 202. If there is no language given, its in English
- If you find a better introductory site than this one, please tell your Webmaster. You’ll find tips on preparing and practicing there, as well.
- The best way to learn to manage Zoom is to set up a session with one other person and go over the basics. Ask them to schedule the meeting
- Sign up for a free Zoom account – that lets you schedule meetings
Tip #3 – Learn your way around the Toastmasters websites
You may have noticed that the site you’re reading this on is not the same as the one mentioned in Tip #2. That’s because Toastmasters works on three levels:
- Toastmasters International has a website (the “International” site, www.toastmasters.org) for the whole organisation
- Each “District”* of Toastmasters has its own website, called the “District” website. Yours is this one, www.d112tm.org.nz.
- Most Toastmasters clubs will have a website and/or Facebook page to promote itself. They might have other sites for other purposes – something to ask your mentor about.
* A “District” is a large group of clubs – up to 300 – who work together. We are part of District 112.
Every member has an account on the International site, in order to (among other things) be able to use our education program (Pathways). The information on the District site is public and is based on your feedback. It contains things you, the members, have asked about. If necessary, you’ll find references to other websites, particularly the International site. This is to try and make sure you always get the latest information.
Tip #4 – Watch the toastmasters Club Experience Video
This five-minute video introduces you to the structure of how Toastmasters meetings work, and the different roles that a club member has at each meeting. There’s more about this on the “Club Meetings” tile.
You will be able to better relate & understand more about the meeting you’ve just attended. You will also understand the roles of each meeting, and prepare yourself as you will also have your turn to do each of these roles soon.
You can find the video at https://www.toastmasters.org/about/all-about-toastmasters. There might be a few differences in detail – every club is a little different – but you’ll find many more similarities.
Tip #5 – Prepare for your Roles
Each time you are assigned a role, have a look at the Club Meeting Roles page to understand how you can be effective in your role for the meeting. This is at
Confidence grows quickly when you “own” the roles you perform. This page will give you a starting point – at the very least, you’ll have something to discuss with your mentor. At best, it will give you more insight as to how you can make the role your own – rather than copy others.
Everyone’s insight and different approaches give an opportunity for us all to learn from each other. And, as you become confident, you will bring your own flavour and style to each role.
Some clubs may publish their own guides to the roles. Whatever the method, Toastmasters gives you a framework to interpret. There are no right and wrong answers; your evaluator (next tip) will comment on how you do the role.
Tip #6 – Understand Evaluation, both given and received
Learning how to Evaluate is an important part of being a club member, as not only will you receive feedback on your speaking but you will also need to give feedback when you evaluate other speakers. This helps with your Toastmasters development immensely.
Evaluation is non-judgemental, constructive criticism. It recognises that the person you are evaluating is doing their best, and acts accordingly.
Your first evaluation will probably be for Table Topics, and this is a good chance to work with your mentor (see Tip #1). There is also a short training video that is worth watching; the link to this needs a login, so will not work here. Once you have chosen a path, you’ll find it in the “Your Evaluation” section of the Icebreaker project.
Tip #7 – Its OK to Volunteer
Your club has a way of managing rosters and agendas – check which of several is used with your VP Education. There will often be gaps, particularly in smaller clubs. YOU can help fill those gaps, in fact you will be thanked for doing so – and if you’ve read the previous tips, you’ll have an idea of what’s involved.
Learn how to sign up for vacant roles; there is no better way of growing confidence than taking a deep breath, trying something you’ve not done before, and nailing it.
Just remind yourself you’re ready way before you think you are in Toastmasters. While you’re at it, why not save the website with the agendas as a bookmark on your desktop? You will be going there every fortnight (at least) to view the Meeting Agendas.
Volunteering need not stop at meeting roles, either. Whether its helping out at contests, training sessions, workshops – the more you do, the more you learn. And that, in a sentence is “How Leaders Are Made”.
Tip #8 – Learn how you can help your Club
Its not just about speeches and meeting roles, you can be a big help in increasing membership as well. If you’re enjoying Toastmasters, why not tell your friends – for real, and on social media?
There are all sorts of ways you can do this. If Facebook is your thing, try a short post about what you are looking forward to before a meeting, and what you learned from the session. Similar with Instagram, or even LinkedIn. You never know when someone will see it and think about joining in. While its always nice if they choose your club, the point is they join, and start enjoying what you’re enjoying.
Tip #9 – You can add your own tips
Quite often, the very worst people to put together pages like this are long-serving members. You can provide a pair of fresh eyes to help add to any part of this website. Either email our Webmaster, or visit our Suggestions Page.
The D112 team would like to acknowledge contributions made to this page by:
- Aimee Alefaio of Ecocity Toastmasters
- Shelly Ataallah, also of Ecocity Toastmasters