Frequently Asked Questions
Whether you’re a professional, a student, a stay-at-home parent, or a retiree, Toastmasters is the best way to improve your communication skills.
Toastmasters can help you lose the fear of public speaking and learn skills that will help you be more successful in your chosen endeavor. You’ll listen better. You’ll more easily lead teams and conduct meetings. You’ll comfortably give and receive constructive evaluation. You already have some, or all of these skills. In Toastmasters, you will enhance them.
At Toastmasters, members learn by speaking to, and working with, others in a supportive environment. A typical Toastmasters club is made up of 20 to 35 people who meet once a week for about an hour and a half. Each meeting gives everyone an opportunity to learn and practice the skill of communications.
Who can join Toastmasters Bratislava?
To join the club you only need to be aged 18 or above, have the motivation and courage to contribute to the community and develop your own communication and leadership skills.
How often there is a meeting?
We meet regularly on Mondays at 18:30, meeting starts sharply at 19:00. There is always a competent person available at 18:30. This person can provide you with more details about the actual organization of the meeting and respond to your questions before the actual start. So we strongly encourage especially guests to come a bit earlier.
How long does a Toastmasters session last?
The session usually lasts 1,5 hours. After that we usually stay to have some dinner and talk.
Where do you meet?
Currently we meet in EduCafe in Robotnicka 5 street in Bratislava.
Do I need to pay something if I want to visit a session as a guest?
No, you are not required to pay anything to see a session at Toastmasters Bratislava as a guest. In fact we actually encourage you to come over and see for yourself how such a session works. However, to actively participate in sessions – take one of the speaker or other roles – you have to be an active member of one of the Toastmasters’ clubs around the globe. As guest you can observe the meeting and participate in improvisations.
What topics are discussed at a session?
Any! Honestly, there are no fixed topics to speak about. Mostly, a person giving a speech chooses subjects that he or she is familiar with.
What happens at a meeting?
The Toastmaster of the Meeting gives a short introduction to the meeting presents the meeting‘s schedule. This is followed by the main part of the evening – the speeches. There are usually 3-4 prepared speeches and later on a session of unprepared – impromptu speeches called Table Topics.
After the speeches session there comes an evaluation part of the evening because in Toastmasters everything is evaluated. These are also short speeches by other members to give feedback to the speakers on what was good and what would need a little improvement.
What is a “Prepared Speech?”
When you join Toastmasters, you receive a basic speaking manual with 10 speech projects. Each project calls on you to prepare a speech on a subject of your own choosing but using certain speaking principles. Each manual project lists the objectives for that speech and includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when evaluating the speech. Thus, if you’re scheduled to speak at a meeting, you generally pull out your manual a week, or two, in advance and put together a speech on whatever subject you like, but paying attention to your goals and the objectives for that speech. Then, when you go to the meeting, you give your manual to your evaluator and that person makes written comments on the checklist while you speak. During the evaluation portion of the meeting, your evaluator then gives an oral commentary on how they felt your presentation went. The purpose of the extensive preparation and commentary is to show you what you’re doing well, and what areas you may need to work on.
What is “Table Topics”?
Table Topics is fun! It’s also terrifying. Basically, it calls on members and even some guests, if they are willing, to present a one to two minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until the moment you get up to speak! A member of the club assigned to be Table Topics master will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on members of the audience to stand up and speak on the topic.
Topics might include current events, or philosophical types of questions, or even wacky questions that most often lead to very humorous presentations.
What is an “Evaluation?”
The Evaluation program is the foundation that Toastmasters is built on.
All prepared speakers, should have their speaking manuals with them and should have passed them on to the evaluators beforehand. During the speech and after, each speaker’s evaluator will be taking written notes and furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute oral evaluation.
Evaluation is tough 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 is giving his/her point of view. Other members of the audience can, and should, also give you written, or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel are important.
What´s all the emphasis on time limits?
As noted above, speeches have time limits, Table Topics have time limits generally 1-2 minutes and evaluations have time limits of 3 minutes generally. The exception to this regards both Table Topics and General meeting evaluations. The timing is intended to keep the meeting on time and to put practical limits on various parts of a meeting.Time limits are rarely enforced to the letter, but you may be ‘clapped down’ if you go on an on. It depends on the style of the individual club. Clubs generally use a set of timing lights to warn the speakers of the advancement of time. For an example:
· If a speech is from 5 to 7 minutes. A green light will be shown at 5 minutes,amber at 6, and red at 7.
· In two minute Table Topics, the lights would be shown at 1 minute, 1.5 minutes and 2 minutes respectively.
When the green light comes on, you’ve spoken the required amount, though you need notfinish at this point. When the yellow light comes on, you should begin wrapping up. By the time the red light comes on, you should be at the closing stages of your presentation. The only time you are actually ‘penalized’ for going over, or under the required time is in speaking competition; in speech contests you must remain within the interval, or suffer disqualification.
What speech projects are there for me to work on?
In the basic (“Communication and Leadership” manual), there are ten speech projects:
1. Icebreaker – 4 to 6 minutes – begin speaking before an audience, discover speaking skills you already have and skills that need attention.
2. Organize your speech– 5 to 7 minutes – select an outline that allows listeners to easily follow and understand your speech.
3. Get to the Point – 5 to 7 minutes – prepare a speech that has a general purpose (to inform, persuade, entertain or inspire) and a specific purpose. Project sincerity and conviction.
4. How You Say It – 5 to 7 minutes – select the right words and sentence structure to communicate your ideas clearly and vividly.
5. Your Body Speaks – 5 to 7 minutes – use stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions and eye contact to express your message and achieve your speech’s purpose.
6. Vocal Variety – 5 to 7 minutes – use voice volume, pitch, rate and quality to reflect and add meaning and interest to your message.
7. Research Your Topic – 5 to 7 minutes – support your points and opinions with specific facts, examples and illustrations gathered through research
8. Get Comfortable With Visual Aids – 6 to 8 minutes – select visual aids that are appropriate for your message and the audience, use them correctly with ease and confidence.
9. Persuade With Power – 5 -7 minutes – persuade listeners to adopt your viewpoint or ideas or to take some action.
10. Inspire Your Audience – 8 to 10 minutes – The final speech in the manual calls on you to inspire your audience by appealing to noble motives and challenging the audience to achieve a higher level of beliefs or achievement.
As you can see, all ten projects above are wide-open for you to choose whatever topic you like. Even if you pick a controversial subject, Toastmasters audiences will evaluate you on how well you presented your subject, not on whether they agreed with you or not.