1. What is Toastmasters?
Toastmasters International is a non-profit organisation, based in the USA and formed to make education in communication and leadership skills accessible to everyone. Worldwide, Toastmasters has over 300,000 members.
2. Who can join?
Anyone aged 18 or over. We have members young enough to be still at school. Membership is open to all, men and women, of all faiths and ethnic backgrounds. Toastmasters International is exactly that – an international organisation.
3. Do you have to live in Queenstown?
No. We have members who attend from Cromwell, and even members who attend online from the other side of the world.
4. Why do you have to be over 18?
In some countries minors, (under 18), cannot by law enter into a binding contract for non-essential goods or services. As members pay a joining fee and semi-annual subscription fees, modest as these are, the membership form is in effect a legal contract to which minors cannot be held. So they cannot join.
5. What happens during a meeting?
We speak. We give and receive feedback. We learn by doing. We work with a programme that is constantly being developed and fine-tuned.
Check out the following video of an example meeting of an American club with commentary. While we do many things very differently, the video will still give you an idea of the rough format and the different speaking roles at a meeting.
6. Can anyone come and visit?
Yes, we are open to everyone anytime! Just come along and visit us – guests are always more than welcome. You can either contact us beforehand, or just show up and sit in on a meeting! Make contact and ask to sit in on a meeting online.
When you visit us, we will explain to you the programme of the night and answer any questions you may have. Just let us know whether or not you would like to speak on the night! We offer the opportunity to introduce yourself with a few words, or you could even challenge yourself with answering a random question during the impromptu section of the meeting.
We suggest you visit us at least two or three times. No two meetings at Queenstown Toastmasters Club are the same, so make sure you experience our club more than once to get the best impression of what we do! If you would feel more comfortable, bring a friend, too.
7. How much does it cost?
We follow the original Toastmasters philosophy to make training accessible to everyone. This is why we have very reasonable fees. For new members, there is a one-off joining fee to become part of the international organisation and have access to its programmes and facilities.
If you are employed, it is certainly worth checking whether your employer would be willing to sponsor you (many do!). With every award you complete, there is an opportunity to have a letter of acknowledgement sent to your company free of charge.
8. How do I join?
We would love to welcome you as a new member of our club. Everyone is welcome to join. We have members from various countries of origin, members who speak English as their mother tongue or as a foreign language, members of all genders, students and non-students, and members with no public speaking experience and some with several years of experience.
Download our application form now!(link)
9. What happens next?
After getting comfortable with some of the smaller meeting roles, you will be given a slot for your first speech, known as the Ice Breaker. This gives you the opportunity to talk about yourself and introduce yourself to the club. We always love listening to Ice Breaker speeches, as they showcase the unique diversity of members in our club.
10. Will I improve my speaking skills?
There is a minimum of theory at Toastmasters. Rather than “preach”, we practice!Our members learn by doing and are led by doing. The more you stand up and speak, the more you improve, and the rate at which you improve will be exponential. Every meeting has a number of different speaking opportunities, all of which test and develop different skills. You’ll also enjoy the experience of watchingyour fellow members – even the most tongue-tied – developing into confident, fluent and articulate speakers.
11. Does everyone progress at the same rate?
No. That is because not every member can attend every meeting, and not every member wants to deliver a prepared speech at every meeting. The more you attend and participate actively in the meetings and the club’s broader activities, the more you will get out of your membership.
12. What is the format?
Members learn by doing, and by absorbing constructive, positive performance evaluations. “What I liked about your speech was….Have you thought about trying this, that or the other?” Probably the best way to describe a meeting format is to say it is a mix of improvised and prepared speaking, and supportive feedback. Each meeting will have an agenda setting out who is doing what. The agenda helps members and guests follow what is happening and helps the meeting run to time.
13. Why do people join?
People join for a variety of reasons. They might be preparing to make a one-off speech at a meeting or a work event, or are suddenly faced with the prospect of doing more presentations at work and are looking for help with that. Some join to conquer crippling shyness, or to help overcome a speech impediment. Others join simply for the hobby aspect, and go on to appreciate how much more rounded a person the programme can help them become. Most who join find they enjoy meeting other people and getting to know them by listening their presentations.
14. Do you have to wait till a certain time to join?
No. New members can join at any time of the year, and their subscriptions for the half-year in which they join are calculated on a pro rata basis according to how many months are left in that half-year. A new member joining during the course of any given month will be asked to pay the full subscription due for that month, even if there are only a few days left. The half-years run from April 1 till September 30, and from October 1 till March 31. All fees are non-refundable.
15. Have any famous people started as Toastmasters?
Yes, thousands around the world! We found this US list of Famous Toastmasters online:
Carl Albert,Former Speaker of the U.S. House of
Tim Allen,Actor and Comedian
William Bennett,Former Premier of British Columbia, Canada
Everett Alvarez,American POW; Former Deputy Director of the Peace Corps and Veterans Admin
James Brady,Two-term Press Secretary for U.S. President Ronald Reagan
Nancy Brinker,Founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; Former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary
Peter Coors,Chairman of Coors Brewing Company
Ben Couch,Late Former Member of Parliament, New Zealand
Philip Crosby,Quality Expert and Leader of the Quality Movement
Carl Dixon,Rock Musician, Former Lead Singer for The Guess Who
Mark Eaton,Former ALL Star Center for the NBA’s Utah Jazz
Robert Emory,Founder, Emory Worldwide Courier Service
Debbi Fields Rose,Founder, Mrs. Fields Cookies
Anita Perez Ferguson,Former President, U.S. Natl. Women’s Political Caucus; Princeton Lecturer
Steve Fraser,1984 Olympic Gold Medallist in Greco-Roman Wrestling; Dir. of Sports Marketing for Domino’s Pizza
Napoleon Hill,Best-selling Author of “Think and Grow Rich”; Presidential Advisor
Tara Dawn Holland,Miss America, 1997
K.C. Jones,Former Basketball Coach for NBA’s Boston Celtics
Richard Lamm,Former Governor of Colorado’ Reform Party Presidential Candidate
Donald D. Lennox,Former President, Xerox Corporation’s Information Systems
Linda Lingle,Former Governor of Hawaii
James Lovell,Former U.S. Astronaut; missions included Apollo 13
Chris Matthews,Author and Host on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews”
Harvey Mackay,Best-selling Author “Swim With the Sharks Without Being Eaten Alive”
Bob McTeer,Former President/CEO, Dallas Federal Reserve Bank; Former Chancellor, Texas A&M University
Hyde Murray,Former Republican Counsel for the U.S. House of Representatives
Robert Nesen,Assistant Secretary of the U.S. Navy,
Todd Newton,TV Host (E!, USA, Travel Channel, Game Show Network)
Paul Oreffice,Former President and CEO of Dow Chemical
Cavett Robert,Late Founder of the National Speakers Association; Author
Pat Roberts,U.S. Senator, Republican from Kansas
Walter Schirra,Late Former U.S. Astronaut; only man to fly in the United States’ first three space missions
Carol Stoker,Missouri State Congresswoman
John Tunney,Former U.S. Senator and Television Commentator
King Vidor,Late Director of Classic Hollywood Motion Pictures
John Young,Former U.S. Astronaut