Toastmasters - Collected Wisdom

These are summaries of the collected wisdom of contributors to a Toastamsters newsgroup which operated between 1995 and 2008 and ToastmastersPrime, a Google group which commenced in 2008. This is not an official Toastmasters site, but is an edited collection of posts from the newsgroup and the Google group. These groups provide an unofficial means of communicating for an enthusiastic group of Toastmasters from throughout the world.

Tuesday, December 12, 2006

Advanced clubs

A regular question is how do advanced clubs work? In editing the posts I have steered clear of many of the comments, and instead searched for suggested formats. The comments about success and failure may be local and have changed over time. I have referenced the thread in and the date to help you see what members and others said about the value and merits of the clubs. Here is the format, only.

In May 2001, Robert started the thread Advanced Toastmasters Club with:
An Area Governor in my district is looking at starting a new advanced club. I was wondering about the focus of those advanced clubs you have seen and how advanced toastmasters clubs go about marketing themselves.

An advanced manual club met before the district meeting and attracted members from all over the state.
They market themselves as a place people can give longer speeches. They require their members maintain membership in a home club. This prevents the perception that they are looking to steal experienced members from other clubs. The make announcements and/or had out flyers at district meetings, area & division contests and the district conference.

One of the advanced clubs in our district is open to CTMs, and meets twice a month for 3 hours on a Saturday morning. They market to our existing members, and the focus is on the extra time for longer presentations and in-depth evaluations.

Our other advanced club is for "professional" speakers, those who are serious about making money as speakers. This club meets once a month on Sunday evenings, and you can't join unless you pass an audition.

In one of our advanced clubs a good number of members have been long time toastmasters, some only belong to it just to keep in touch with Toastmasters it seems. Structure relatively similar to a regular club meeting, varying meeting location and meets over dinner at some "exotic" places. Atmosphere somewhat more formal and professional.

Another has a focus on speeches and evaluations - 4 to 5 speeches, one main oral evaluation followed by group evaluation (up to 10 minutes). They present an education session at each meeting and is more or less a dinner meeting.

We do have time for longer speeches and more thoughtful evaluations. But one of the best advantages is getting to know TM from around the state. We have members covering an area of some 100 miles or more. When we need a TM for an area contest or some other event, I know I can call on someone from our Advanced TM club. They are always willing and able. We require that the member keep membership in a home club so there is no feeling of stealing members. We meet once a month and have a meal before the meeting so it is a great opportunity to get to know the members well.

We require that members have at least a CTM but we sometimes make an exception for an outstanding speaker. At this club, we use group evaluations, rather than the standard one evaluator per speaker. Each person in attendance at the meeting offers suggestions to the speaker to help facilitate rapid improvement.

Another club is geared toward leadership development. All speeches and table topics are based on some aspect of leadership. Also, members are encouraged to pursue Leadership designations and we work together to support the High Performance Leadership projects for our members. Requirements for membership in this club are to have completed at least 6 Basic Manual speeches and to have previously served as a club officer for at least 6 months.

Another club was to practice sharing technical information with other technical professionals. We did not have any requirements other than dual membership and a knowledge or desire to speak on technical subjects.

Our emphasis is on members interested in competition, and they have quite of few of the District's previous contest winners as members.

John L:
Our main selling point is the evaluations. We devote ten minutes to each speech evaluation. The speaker has a choice of formats. There can be a team evaluation where there is a lead evaluator that comments on the overall presentation. As well there will be two other evaluators that will watch specific aspects of the speech. This will be up to the speaker. It may be presentation material - slides -flip charts etc. It may be gestures, or whatever area the speaker wishes to work on.
Another format will be to have the lead evaluator speak for five minutes and then open the floor for comments from other club members.
We market ourselves as a way to continue the growth.

In September 2005, the thread was Advanced club agenda

In our Storytelling club we begin each meeting by introducing ourselves, in a voice or character other than our own. Table Topics may incorporate singing, dancing, improv or mime. After one person gives the oral version of the written evaluation, all speakers receive a round robin evaluation.

We have double evaluations. One for content and one for presentation. The dividing line is very fuzzy, so we don't fret about crossing over. It is good, nonetheless, to get two opinions.

We frequently have educational sessions on speaking topics.

In March 1999 the thread was Advanced Club
Our focus is "service" (our name is "Laulima" -literally "helping hands", or "people helping people".), and mission is to promote Toastmasters and its skills to the community, and to the District. Most of our members are past and/or present District Officers, although that's not a restriction. Our only real criteria for membership is the spirit of service. When we first formed, we toyed with the idea of limiting membership to CTMs, but we soon realized that there were newer members who were much more imbued with the spirit of our Club than some long-time members - you might want to consider that when setting up guidelines for your Club - there may be some non-CTMs who are more on the track of professional speaking than some CTMs and ATMs.

January 2006, the thread was Describre Advanced clubs (their spelling for search purposes)
We have a Toastmasters TV show that is not a club, but is staffed by members from various clubs around district 57. The crew is pretty stable, and we offer speaking opportunities to members all around D57. Most other TMTV shows I have heard about are clubs, but this works well for us. We record a show once a month, also at the local cable company's studio. The typical format has a host, two speakers and an evaluator. We have the last two years of shows archived at, if anyone is interested.

September 2000 the thread was Advanced CLUBS
We have a gourmet Toastmasters club. For our gourmet meetings, we meet once a month in the home of one of our members. Each member prepares one menu item based on the theme (we've done Cajun, Indian, Mexican, French, Spanish and several other cuisines). We conduct the meeting around the meal. These meetings tend to be a little less formal but we still work on advanced speeches and evaluations.

John S:
Several gourmet clubs - at least one in each division I think - meet monthly. The club meets at a different restaurant each month. Generally we have a private room, or meet on a night that the restaurant would otherwise be closed.
I find it a great way to rehearse after dinner speeches - the audience is more demanding than a normal club meeting. Of course, I enjoy the meal too.
In addition to speeches and evaluations (about thirty minutes worth of speeches, which may mean two by fifteen, one by thirty or four by 7) we have table topics, and also critiques on the dishes or wines.

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