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Visitors' FAQ

So you would like to take the first steps towards improving your public speaking skills and visit National Toastmasters? Below are some frequently asked questions about visiting our club.

  • Who can attend a meeting of National Toastmasters Club?
    National welcomes anyone who is interested in improving his or her public speaking, communication or leadership skills.
  • Do I need to have any experience?
    As they say, 'no experience necessary'. Also you should remember that we all started off as novices or beginners.
  • What days do National Toastmasters meet?
    Our club meets on the 2nd and 4th Tuesdays each month. Take a look at the Calendar page to see when the next meeting is.
  • What time are the meetings held?
    Meetings start at 6:15pm and normally run until between 8:30 and 9:00pm. We encourage visitors and guests to arrive early (around 6pm) so that we can properly welcome you and answer any questions you have before the meeting starts (although you can also ask questions during the meeting).

  • Where does National Toastmasters meet?
    Our club is located in the CBD of Sydney, Australia. We meet at Castlereagh Boutique Hotel, 169 Castlereagh St (see map below). Once you get to the hotel take the lift or walk up the stairs to the level 5 meeting room.

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  • What happens at a club meeting?
    The format of a Toastmasters meeting varies slightly from club to club, but here’s what happens at a National Toastmasters meeting:

    Call To Order & Introductions
    President's welcome
    Impromptu speeches (also known as "Table Topics")
    Evaluation for Table Topic speakers
    Refreshment break
    Prepared speeches (also known as manual speeches)
    Evaluation of these prepared speeches and their presentation
    Various reports about the meeting
    Finally an opportunity for Visitors' comments
  • Can visitors participate in the meeting?
    We encourage visitors to take part in meetings. If you'd like to participate just ask someone before the meeting starts or speak up when an opportunity presents itself during the meeting. Table Topics is a good chance to take part in a meeting. Sometimes visitors prefer just to watch, this is fine as well. There is no pressure on you to participate if you don't want to. It's not uncommon for visitors to attend a meeting or two before actively participating.
  • How much does it cost?
    For first time visitors or guests there is no charge. For each subsequent meeting that you attend there is a $10 meeting fee. This helps cover the cost of the room hire. If you decide to become a member there is also a membership fee.

    If you need further information before attending a meeting you can ask questions via phone and email - the number and address are on the Contact Us page. While at a meeting you can speak to any of the club members or excutive members (they normally introduce themselves at the start of the meeting). We are always happy to answer questions.
  • What Exactly Are "Table Topics?"
    Table Topics can be fun! They can also be also terrifying to new members. Basically, they call on you to present a one minute impromptu speech on a subject given to you just a few moments before you get up to speak! A member of the club who is assigned to be “Table Topics Master” will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on members (and guests, if they wish to participate) to stand up and speak on the topic.

    Topics might include current events (e.g. "Do you think England will ever win a game of cricket against Australia?”) or philosophy (e.g. "If you had no shoes and met a man who had no feet, how would you feel?") or the wacky (e.g. "Reach into this bag. Pull an item out. Tell us about it.").
  • What Are Prepared Speeches?
    A prepared speech is one that a club member has prepared (written/practised) before arriving at the meeting. They then deliver this prepared speech to the gathered audience at the meeting. Prepared speeches vary in type and can be different lengths of time, from 5 to 25 minutes.

    When you join Toastmasters you receive a Communication and Leadership manual with 10 speech projects. Members usually prepare and deliver a speech from this manual or an Advanced manual. The manual and speech project determines the type and length of the speech to be delivered.
  • What is Evaluation?
    The Evaluation of speeches is an important part of a meeting. All speakers are evaluated during their speeches (including written notes); after they have completed their speech an evaluator will then give an oral evaluation.

    Evaluation is challenging to do well because it requires an evaluator to do more than say, "here's what you did wrong." A good evaluator will say, "here's what you did well and here's why doing that was good, and here are some things you might want to work on for your next speech, and here's how you might work on them."

    It's important to remember that the evaluator presents just one point of view, although one that has focused in closely on your speech. Other members of the audience can and should give you feedback on aspects of your speech.

  • What's all this emphasis on time limits?
    All Toastmasters speeches have time limits. Table Topics have a time limit of 1 minute, while prepared speeches have varying time limits and evaluations have time limits of 2-3 minutes.  This is in order to emphasise the point that a good speaker makes effective use of the time allotted and does not keep going and going and going until the audience is bored. In the real world, quite often there are practical limits on how long a meeting can or should go; by placing time limits on speeches and presentations, participants learn brevity and time management.

    Time limits are rarely enforced to the letter. Most clubs don't cut off speakers if they go overtime. It is common for clubs to use a set of timing lights to warn the speakers of the advance of time. All speeches and presentations have a time limit expressed as an interval, e.g. 5 to 7 minutes. A green light would be shown at 5 minutes, amber at 6, and red at 7.

    When the green light comes on, you've at least spoken enough, though you need not finish right away. When the amber light comes on, you should begin wrapping up. If you're not done by the time the red light comes on, you should finish as soon as possible without mangling the ending of your speech. The only times you're actually "penalised" for going over or under time is in a speaking contest. In speech contests you must remain within the allowable time range or be disqualified.

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