As Warm As Toastmasters
The Southbank Toastmasters is the formal name for a group of fun-loving individuals, from all walks of life, who meet twice a month to improve their public speaking skills in a friendly and inclusive environment.
While the South Brisbane branch of this US-based international club works within the carefully constructed principals of the parent body, it has it’s own distinctive home-grown Aussie character which it has been nurturing for 20 years.
The club aims to give its members – which number between 20 and 30 – somewhere to hone their public speaking skills with valuable and helpful feedback, which puts the emphasis on positive encouragement rather than point scoring.
This non-judgmental approach accommodates individuals from the nervous beginner through to the more experienced and relaxed performer as club evaluations focus on the needs of the individual.
They aim to emphasis the needs in everyone’s development with plenty of emphasis on positive encouragement but at the same time ‘room for improvement’ is considered to be essential part of each evaluation.
The Southbank Toastmasters is proud of its multicultural membership – which is almost as diverse as the member’s varied work backgrounds – but does not operate as an English language school or club.
A typical evening program runs from 6.15pm until 8.45/9pm and works on a strict timekeeping structure, which generally allows five-seven minutes for the three main speakers who feature each week.
The idea is that members work their way through manuals, which lead to defined goals within the Toastmasters organisation, and therefore achieve recognised levels of Toastmaster competency.
Many see Toastmasters as a rehearsal room for speakers whose aim it is to improve their performance in the public domain – from getting up and making a speech at the family function to being the key note talent at work – so it’s understood that mistakes will be made before skills are mastered.
There’s also an array of other functions at a typical Toastmasters meeting including but is not exclusive to:
- the Word Master – who presents the club with a new word and its meaning at the beginning of the evening –
- Timekeeper – member responsible for ensuring we ALL keep to time, developing our preparation skills and learning to respect our fellow presenters and our AUDIENCE.
- Table Topics is Toastmaster’s answer to Theatre Sports as a Table Topic Master picks on several club members each week – generally around six – to speak spontaneously on a nominated subject.
- These exercises also come with evaluations and valuable tips on how to master Table Topics, which with practice are not as daunting as the novice might think.
The Southbank Toastmasters has regular educationals, speechcraft courses, mentoring programs, executive officer training and informal times such as the dinner break when there’s an opportunity to make new friends and improve on networking.
While the club has its formal and informal traits, there’s plenty of opportunities for more competitive members to prove themselves in the wider Toastmaster world through divisional and area competitions. Some have even been known to make their mark on the international stage!