What’s a typical meeting of Newport Center Toastmasters like?

Meetings start off promptly at 7AM with the Sergeant-at-Arms’ introduction of the Club President who introduces the Pledge of Allegiance, an Invocation and a Toast, each led by a different individual Toastmaster. The President then introduces the Toastmaster for the meeting who provides introductory comments about the meeting and its theme and introduces the key participants for that days’ meeting, such as timer, balloteer, grammarian and AH counter (who rings a bell when an Ah is heard.)

The leader of each major segment is introduced with a formal introduction prepared by the person being introduced. Such an introduction is short but includes the major elements of a formal speech: opening, body, close.

The first major segment of the meeting is called ‘Table Topics’, led by the Table Topics Master (for the day). This is for impromptu speaking centered on the theme for the day. There is also a ‘word for the day’ (provided by the grammarian), which is introduced during the earlier introductions and must be used for the individual to qualify for an award that day for ‘best table topic speech’.

A typical meeting includes three to four prepared speeches given by members, in satisfaction of a project identified in one of the many Toastmasters manuals. Each project focuses on a unique presentation skill and includes a tutorial to assist in the successful completion of the project objectives. Most speeches are 5-7 minutes but some are longer.

Following the prepared speeches, a member provides a two-minute constructive evaluation for each prepared speaker. The evaluations focus on how well the member met the project objectives, skills done well, and areas needing improvement. Evaluations focus on helping other members achieve their goals.

All prepared speeches and evaluations are video taped for the presenter. Watching these tapes is very beneficial in improving technique. Very few clubs have this type of technology available.

Following the speaker evaluations the General Evaluator reports on the meeting overall, the use of grammar during the meeting, how close each member came to meeting time requirements, the number of “ah’s”, “um’s”, and other crutch words used.

The meeting ends after one hour and twenty minutes with awards handed out for, Best Table Topics, Spark Plug, Most Improved Speaker, Best Evaluator, Second Best Speaker and Best Speaker.

The meeting finishes up with a few minutes on Club business. Being punctual is important in a Toastmasters meeting. Everyone’s schedule is to be respected so getting out on time is the goal.

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