What is a Sample Meeting?
After the initial excitement of a starting the process of chartering a Toastmasters club, there is one question that crosses every company/community’s minds. “How do I even begin to pull this off?
Sample meetings are a tool for us as a district to help showcase and introduce, what Toastmasters is all about. It gives prospective clubs a feel for what it takes to operate a club meeting and context behind what they can expect from the program.
A good sample meeting should set the ground work for the club and create positive momentum to charter. Additionally, if the group consists of inexperienced Toastmasters this could assist as the framework for the club to follow and build upon to suit their own club culture.
Your participation in the sample meeting encourages prospective members to join and provides prospective club leaders a model of how they can lead the club. The best way to showcase the benefits of Toastmasters is to prepare for your role and be accessible to talk to the program outside of your role.
The Meeting Format
True to the term “sample”, sample meetings should mimic the structure of a typical club meeting which consists of 3 main parts: Prepared speeches, Impromptu Speeches & Evaluations.
Prepared Speeches: This part of the meeting should include a talk driven by one of the Pathways speech projects. Depending on what the prospective clubs goals are, this could be a standard Level 1 or Level 2 speech or it could be a Level 4 or Level 5 elective presentation or event based talk. In either case, you should plan your time accordingly to ensure that the club’s needs are met while staying within the “pocket” of the meeting format.
Impromptu Speeches: Also know as Table Topics, this section of the meeting is the most interactive part of a sample meeting. When preparing questions for the prospective club, keep in mind this group has likely never experienced something like Table Topics before. Some may have never presented in front of an audience before either. Try to select universal questions that any one can answers to help the audience feel comfortable answering.
When in doubt, ask “Is a hotdog a sandwich?” You can never go wrong!
Evaluations: This is the most critical part of the meeting, especially for a corporate club. Giving positive & meaningful feedback and suggesting creative ways for a members to improve is the best way to make a club want to sign up immediately. Similar to the Impromptu Speeches, many of the individuals in the prospective club may have never experienced receiving direct feedback from a speech before. It is important to keep your evaluation light and succinct while also fully explaining the goals of the speaker’s projects, timing of talks and expectations of each evaluator.
Depending on the goals of the community or company that is looking for the sample meeting, they may ask for more interactive participation. They may ask for leaders to talk about their experiences and allow for their colleagues to ask those leaders questions. Based upon that, you may find yourself in a sample meeting with just Prepared or just Impromptu Speeches. That is ok! As long as you have an evaluations section and stress the goals of Toastmasters, that is what will make a successful sample meeting.
After the Sample Meeting
After a sample meeting, the club WILL have questions. This does not require you to be and expert in Toastmasters talk, but rather an expert at your experiences in Toastmasters. This is your opportunity to build a relationship with the club and humanize the program. As a leader, the prospective club is looking to draw from your insight and make a decision based upon what they hear from you. Having an engaging an positive conversation about the program will help ease any concerns that the club may have moving forward. Additionally, this help build their confidence in you and potentially start a club mentor/mentee relationship moving forward as the club charters and first starts.
As mention in the beginning, sample meetings help showcase and introduce Toastmasters from both the communication and leadership perspectives. In order to successfully conduct this meeting, it requires Toastmasters who are passionate about the program and willing to be an open resource for the prospective club to be built!
Want to learn more? Contact the District 31 Club Growth Director