What to expect from a meeting Edit
You're at a meeting that showcases people's speaking. Toastmasters meetings are places where speakers try out their public speaking in front of a receptive audience (you) and get feedback. They are usually presenting an assignment from a C&L manual (for more information, go to Tips Per Assignment
Tips for First Time GuestsEdit
- If you are visiting a club for the first time, call ahead first. Most clubs welcome visitors, but a club meeting could be canceled or could be held at a special location. The phone call or e-mail could save a wasted trip. You also have the opportunity to ask about club customs.
- Get there early (obviously) - but not too early. Toastmasters clubs are run by volunteers, so 20 minutes in advance you may find people still setting up the room -- or the previous meeting not yet finished.
- Identify somebody who calls themselves the "Vice President Membership" or Sergeant-At-Arms. They'll look after you.
- Be prepared to say your name at the meeting. Some clubs will ask you to introduce yourself, others ask the person who invited you to do this. You could grab a friendly-looking person and ask them to introduce you - so give them your name, where you work, and how you found out about Toastmasters. Many clubs also ask you to give your impressions at the end of the meeting.
- If you don't want to talk in public at all at your first meeting, that's absolutely fine. Let the President or Vice-President Membership or the Presiding Toastmaster know.
- Take a full glass into the meeting -- you'll need it when somebody proposes a toast. Clubs in the US don't typically have toasts, but some have a pledge of allegiance. If you are from a foreign country, the protocol is to simply stand and face the flag, but you don't need to participate. (Not all clubs have toasts. In South Africa for example there may be three formal toasts! The etiquette is to stand when asked, to repeat the toast, to put the glass down and clap until the proposer sits down, and then sit. Don't sit before the proposer. (If you're the proposer, sit down fast!)
- If you're a man, keep your jacket on until you see somebody else remove theirs. Some clubs are a bit old-fashioned and will announce when "gentlemen may remove their jackets." It's embarrassing to be sitting there in shirt sleeves when the announcement comes.
- In other locations, ties and coats are rare. The typical attire will depend on region and the profession of most of the members. Clubs with a variety of occupations could have a large variation. If you are in doubt about what to wear, ask when you call or e-mail about the meeting.
- Val from Saratoga Springs, NY USA (Past District 53 Governor) is trying to get US clubs to adopt the toast as a custom, so toasts at US meetings are not unknown. In Europe, toasts are virtually unknown, and pledges are not made.
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When to introduce whom -- a guide to protocol Edit
Much of the etiquette at a Toastmasters' Meeting is just common sense and courtesy. This basic rule will get you through most situations.
There is a precedence of Introductions at a Toastmasters meeting:
- Visiting non-Toastmasters - dignitaries and guests
- National Government Officials
- State or Canton or Provincial officials
- City or Local officials
- Special guest speaker
- Prominent guests
- Club guests
- Current International Officers -Toastmasters
- Current District Officers in this order:
- The District Director
- Program Quality Director
- Club Growth Director
- Public Relations Manager
- Administration Manager
- Finance Manager
- Immediate Past District Governor (next year, Immediate Past District Director)
- Current Division Directors in alphabetical order with the 'Home' Director taking precedence.
- Current Area Directors in alphabetical order with the 'Home' Director taking precedence.
- Any other current officers - for example, Presidents from other clubs.
- Past International Directors starting with the most recent
- Past district governors starting with the most recent
- Club members
An Area Director who is on an official visit to a club (of which there are two per year), will take precedence over officers not there in an official capacity.
When introducing, use the following outline: 1. Office 2. Toastmaster designation in full 3. Name 4. Spouse/partner/guest
For example, District Director, Distinguished Toastmaster, Joe Bloggs and his partner, Mary Smith.
Note that this applies to situations outside the club as well. There are specific forms of formal address for the Office, the envelope, the written salutation, the letter ending, in speaking, and the form on the invitation card.
If you are hosting an Ambassador, a Judge, or a Bishop, you need to know the correct form of address. This type of protocol is very important if you are communicating with any government official or senior religious person. The Government Protocol Division or an old-fashioned dictionary may help if you are hosting such personages.
So use your Toastmasters Club as a laboratory for life, and ensure that you know what to do. You never know when you will be called upon to do the introductions, so be prepared!