The Confident Speakers Toastmasters Club of Palm Desert has been helping desert residents to improve their communication, speaking and leadership ability since 1980. Through a fun, social, learn by doing approach, members help each other to grow and become the best they can possibly be. We are a local club affiliated with Toastmasters International founded in 1924 and are one of over 15,000 clubs worldwide.
Our club President Don Shapiro recently gave a speech on how to write a speech. He followed that up by writing a mini book on how to write a great speech you can read by clicking on the link below. This how-to book reflects what Don has learned after writing thousands of speeches and his many years as a professional speaker and trainer as well as a long time Toastmaster. If you want to improve how well you speak as well as all your communications, this is a must read. Don is planning on turning this into a published book so he welcomes your questions and suggestions.
A Toastmaster club is made up of a group of members who perform a variety of roles during a typical meeting. These roles rotate throughout the membership so every member experiences a wide variety of communication and leadership roles. Each 90 minute meeting is structured and timed to insure every member gets to participate and the meeting helps each member to achieve their goals.
These roles include the following:
Toastmaster – the master of ceremonies for the meeting who sets the tone, introduces speakers and other major roles, gives out awards, and keeps the meeting running on time.
Table Topics Master – runs the impromptu speaking session in each meeting where members give a 1 to 2 minute speech without any preparation. This is one of the best ways to learn to handle any communication situation.
General Evaluator – runs the evaluation portion of the meeting where speakers are evaluated, the use of language and grammar is evaluated, and the overall meeting is evaluated. The key to Toastmasters is to receive feedback on what we did well and suggestions for improvement. That’s how we grow as individuals and insure our meetings are beneficial.
Prepared Speaker – we usually have two members who give a prepared speech in each meeting. Members use a Toastmasters project manual so they have specific objectives to improve how they communicate. The member always picks their own topic and expresses their own point of view. Toastmasters projects start with very basic things such as just standing up in front of the group and progress through every skill involved in writing and delivering a speech. There are numerous advanced manuals that focus on every possible aspect of communications.
Speech Evaluator – we assign a speech evaluator for every prepared speech. This provides the member with specific feedback on what they are doing well so they can build on their strengths and suggestions for improvement that are appropriate for their level. Toastmasters teaches people how to give effective feedback that will be positively received so this is another communication skill you learn.
Ahh Counter / Grammarian – this role involves counting when members use vocal bridges such as ah, um, uh huh, so, and you know. By becoming aware we are using vocal bridges, we cut down on them dramatically. The grammarian gives us feedback on our use of words and grammar.
Time Keeper – the only way a Toastmaster club can do all we do in 90 minutes is by timing everything we do. The time keeper operates a light system that lets speakers know when they are getting close to the time limit for their speech and when they need to wrap it up. Staying within a time limit helps speakers learn how much (or little) they can actually say in a given amount of time. When we are asked to say something in a meeting or give a speech, we can’t just ramble on because then we would lose our audience.
Vote Counter – we vote for the best speaker, table topics speaker and speech evaluator at each meeting. This is one of the many ways we recognize our members and emphasize examples of doing things well. The vote counter counts the votes and gives the results to the Toastmaster to handle out ribbons near the end of the meeting.
Pledge / Inspiration Thought / Joke – at the beginning of every meeting a member leads the club in the Pledge of Allegiance, shares an inspiration thought and tells a joke.
Our most recent group photo. There are a few members who didn’t attend that night but this gives a good idea about us.
This is how a typical meeting looks. We sit in a U so everyone has a front row seat and can see each other. This promotes better connection and communication. It really helps our speakers learn how to make eye contact and work an audience.
Pia dresses up as Agatha Christie to give a talk about Agatha’s life. Will the real Agatha Christie please stand up!