Frequently Asked Questions


Before I Attend A Meeting

How do I get started in Toastmasters?
Come join us for a meeting! When you visit, you’ll receive a guest packet and will be seated next to an experienced member who can answer any questions that may come up during the meeting. That’s all there is! Visit us soon and we’ll get you going!

Where is Gilbert Toastmasters currently meeting?
We are meeting at the Greenfield Junior High which is located at 101 S. Greenfield Rd, Gilbert, AZ 85296. The school is located at the SE corner of Elliot Rd and S. Greenfield Rd. It is easier to reach the parking lot from the S. Greenfield Rd entrance. We meet in the Media Center.

Do I need a special invitation to attend a meeting? / What do I have to do before I visit?
Consider this your special invitation: We’d love to have you visit sometime! We don’t need any advance notice of your plans to visit. However if you would like to let us know so that we can keep an eye out for you, or if you have any further questions, click on the “email us” button in the menu bar to the left.

Is there a dress code?
Not officially. Traditionally individuals with some of the higher functions, such as Toastmaster, Topicsmaster, or General Evaluator (see descriptions of functionaries), as well as the officers, choose to dress nicely to give meetings a more formal feel. Also speakers may select their clothing based on the speech material. For example, one of our members gave a speech on fly fishing and she came dressed in fishing gear. The remainder of the membership, as well as guests, are encouraged to come in whatever makes them most comfortable.

Is this a networking organization?
Toastmasters Clubs were created for members to improve in the areas of communication and leadership and networking is not actively promoted by the organization itself. However, members may choose to utilize the club for networking to the best of their abilities. Occasionally there are individuals who are members of more than one club for the purpose of getting to know more people. It is also not uncommon to find fellow members who are willing to put in a good word for someone looking for a job and even occasionally to offer a job to another member.

Are there other clubs around?
Absolutely. If for any reason at all you visit Gilbert Toastmasters and decide that yes, Toastmasters is something you would like to peruse but not at the Gilbert Club, there are many others around. Perhaps Gilbert does not meet your needs as far as day and time or location, there is a good chance there is another club that would better suit your needs. Although we would love for you to join our club, we prefer for you find another club that would meet your needs rather than have you not be involved at all. Feel free to shop around and visit as many different clubs as you like as many times as you like; there is no obligation ever. For information on other clubs in the area, visit the District 3 website or the Toastmasters International website (click on the “Links” button in the menu bar to the left).

About The Toastmasters Organization

Where did Toastmasters come from?
Toastmasters was founded in 1924 by Dr. Ralph C. Smedley in Santa Ana, California for the purpose of improving in the areas of public speaking and presiding over meetings, all with the spirit of fellowship. From there, other clubs were formed and a decade later the organization became international with the founding of a club in British Columbia, Canada.
The organization has benefited over three million men and women since its foundation. Source: Toastmasters International Website.

I heard people referred to as “governor,” does it mean Toastmasters are involved in politics?
Yes and no. The term “governor” refers to positions of leadership within the Toastmasters organization. The leaders of the Districts, Divisions, and Areas are referred to as Governors. The individuals who serve as Governors do so on a voluntary basis (i.e. they are not paid for their service) and are elected to their positions at the Division level and above (see the next question or click here to see the Toastmasters structure). To make the process more interesting and challenging, and to ensure only the most qualified individuals are elected, campaigning is encouraged. Therefore within the Toastmasters organization there is some politics involved. However the organization is not involved in politics outside the Toastmasters organization, such as with the government. Of course ask any Toastmaster and they will tell you that the majority of politicians desperately need the speaking skills taught in Toastmasters.

What do you mean by Area, Division and District?
Toastmasters International is broken down into smaller segments. The International organization is broken down into Regions. Gilbert Toastmasters is a part of Region 10, which includes much of the US southwest and Mexico. Regions are broken down into Districts. Gilbert is a part of District 3, which essentially is the state of Arizona. Districts are broken down into Divisions. Gilbert is a part of Gila Division, which primarily includes the southeast valley area. Divisions are broken down into Areas. Gilbert is a part of Area G5, which includes Gilbert and parts of Mesa.

What do the acronyms mean? (Examples: CTM, ATM, DTM, CL, AL, TI, TLI, CC, AC, etc)
Please click here for the answer to this question.

Are children allowed in Toastmasters Clubs?
Toastmasters Clubs have a minimum age requirement of eighteen years for membership. They may visit on occasion if they do not disrupt the meeting.

I represent _______ company and would like to present a sales pitch/workshop to your club members. Can I do this?
Gilbert Toastmasters’ weekly speaking slots are strictly reserved for club members and pre-arranged speaker-swapping with members of other Toastmasters clubs. However if you are interested in acquiring better speaking skills for yourself and subsequently for your sales pitch, we’d love to have you become a member.

About The Meeting

Why are meetings run the way they are?
Toastmasters clubs utilize parliamentary proceedings. There are multiple reasons for this. One reason is that it gives meetings an air of professionalism which appeals to many, particularly businessmen and women. Also, knowledge of parliamentary proceedings can help these businessmen and women conduct more effective business meetings at work. And another reason is that each person knows their job and this allows for smoothly conducted meetings.

How does everyone know what they’re supposed to be doing?
One of the most important individuals to a Toastmasters Club is the Vice President of Education (VPE). This individual prepares a schedule in advance of meetings by assigning roles to various people. When a person joins a Toastmaster Club, s/he is added to the club roster and the VPE will begin including that person as soon as possible. Gilbert has the tradition of scheduling new members for their first speech, called the Icebreaker (just what it sounds like – a speech where we get the chance to know the new member), as soon as possible. After that they are scheduled for minor functions first, then progressively more important functions. At any time the member may inform the VPE if s/he feels that the pace is either too quick or too slow and the VPE can adjust accordingly.
At any point, a member may choose to have an assigned mentor. All new members are encouraged to acquire a mentor. Mentors are more experienced Toastmasters who are able to give guidance. If a member ever has a question of any kind, the mentor should be able to answer it, as should any of the officers.
View the current schedule. Read up on functionaries.

What’s the difference between a functionary and an officer?
Functionaries are positions that need to be filled on a weekly basis and are assigned by the Vice President of Education. They are based on a rotating schedule (click here to view current schedule) to allow members to have as many different speaking experiences as possible. Each function has specific goals. For a description of these functions, click here.
Officers are elected by a quorum of the membership on a semi-annual basis and they serve six-month terms which begin January 1st and July 1st. There are seven officers: President, Vice President of Education (VPE), Vice President of Membership (VPM), Vice President of Public Relations (VPPR), Treasurer, Secretary and Sergeant-at-arms. Additionally, the Immediate Past President serves as mentor to the current president and chairs the nominating committee for the next elections. Each office has its own specific set of goals and responsibilities. Members are encouraged to run for an office at any time to get to know fellow members as well as to promote personal leadership skills.

How come you always shake hands and address each other as Mister/Madam functionary?
Toastmasters clubs are run using formal introductions and greetings to promote professionalism during our meetings, which easily rubs off into our professional lives.

What are the awards (Best Tabletopics, Evaluator, Speaker and Vicki Treciak Spirit Award) for?
Toastmasters clubs strive to acknowledge excellence and accomplishment and our weekly awards reflect that. The Best Tabletopics award goes to the tabletopics participant who best answers his/her question in an interesting and coherent way. The Best Evaluator award goes to the individual who provides the most constructive evaluation containing both positive attributes of the speech and a couple challenges for improvement on the speaker’s next presentation. The Best Speaker award goes to the individual who best achieves his/her project goals. The Vicki Treciak Spirit Award recipient is selected by the General Evaluator of the evening and goes to the individual whom the GE feels added an extra “spark” to the meeting and otherwise displays club spirit.

Why did a beginning speaker get more votes for Best Speaker than a more experienced, better speaker?
The Best Speaker award criteria is designed to allow for this. The award, as mentioned above, is given to the individual who best meets his/her project goals. Because of this, the award is not necessarily given to an individual many may consider to be the “better speaker” or to a more experienced speaker.

Why did one speaker receive a standing ovation and not the others?
Gilbert Toastmasters has a tradition of giving a standing ovation to individuals who accomplish milestones. We define milestones as significant events including induction of new members into the club, completion of the initial “Icebreaker” speech, and the attaining of Toastmaster designations (CC, AC, DTM, CL, AL – see “Toastmasters Love Acronyms” for more details).

What is a Speech-a-Thon and why do you have them?
Gilbert Toastmasters began holding monthly Speech-a-Thons just recently as a response to our growth. While a large membership base definitely has its benefits, the one draw-back was that our members did not have as many opportunities to speak as most of them would have liked. Our Speech-a-Thon offered four additional speaking opportunities each month. For those meetings (the third meeting of each month), we do away with all of our functionary reports and all functionary positions with the exception of evaluators for each speaker, the timer, and of course, the Toastmaster to emcee it all. Additionally, we have extended our meetings on these weeks by up to fifteen minutes (we will adjourn as soon as we get through our program, even if that happens earlier than 8:45). As our growth stabilizes, we may not need to hold Speech-a-Thons on a monthly basis, but only as needed to keep up with our members’ needs.

About Membership

Do I have to join right away?
We encourage individuals to visit as many times as they want, and visit as many different clubs as they want and join only when they feel comfortable doing so. If you know ahead of time that you are ready to join or have visited once already and are ready to join, feel free to print and fill out the membership application now: Click here for membership application.

Is there a membership fee?
Yes. There is a one-time new member fee of $20.00, and a biannual fee of $60.00, which is prorated for new members. This membership fee may be tax-deductible. Ask any member and we will tell you this fee is well worth the benefits of the program. If this membership fee would cause financial hardship, please talk to an officer about it and we will work something out with you. It is not our desire to see anyone with a genuine desire to participate not be able to do so for financial reasons. Our dues go toward operating costs on the international level as well as the club level, and to cover the fee to rent our meeting facility.

Why should I join Toastmasters? / What’s in it for me?
You are invited to check the following web sections for answers to these questions: What’s In It For Me? and Members Testimonials.

Why do people have to be taken out of the room and discussed/voted in, before they can officially join?
The simple answer to this question is that it is required by our Gilbert Toastmasters Club Constitution and by Toastmasters International. We find it an excellent opportunity to make the inductee feel special by realizing that we actually want them to be a part of our club, badly enough to vote them in! In addition, it is an opportunity to give the new member a warm welcome to the club in the form of a standing ovation when they are brought back into the room.

What would be expected of me as a member?
Take a look at the second page of the member application. When you fill out, sign, and submit the application, you are making our club a promise– the Toastmaster’s Promise — which we will have you agree to publicly at our new member induction ceremony held on the first week of each month. This promise includes the commitment to attend regularly and put in the best effort to prepare for your function for the evening. Club meetings are maximized when not only all functionaries are present to fulfill their function and speakers are well-prepared for their speech, but when there are additional members there to greet guests, applaud speakers, and add energy to the club meeting. Those who are able to commit to attending regularly will receive the most benefit and will contribute the most to the already high quality of Gilbert Toastmasters. Also note that part of this promise includes willingly preparing for and fulfilling assigned meeting roles. Occasionally individuals join our club who only want to present formal speeches and do nothing more. Our leadership has very little patience for such individuals. Members who routinely request replacements for functionarly roles and only manage to show up for formal speaking slots will find themselves removed from the speaking rotation until they demonstrate their ability to work as a team by following through with assignments. Anything else would be breaking the Toastmaster’s Promise and would be unfair to the rest of the members who have to pick up the slack.

I travel quite a bit and wouldn’t be able to make it to meetings each week. Can I still become a member?
As long as you understand the previous question’s answer, absolutely. In fact, we have several members who travel quite a bit and only attend when they are in town. You will still be able to benefit from the program as long as you put your best effort into it when you are able to attend, and take advantage of these times by participating as much as possible. We recommend travelers volunteer to be on the On the Spot Speakers list, always have a pocket speech ready to present in the event a scheduled speaker is unable to make it, and respond quickly to email requests for a replacement speaker. That way, you will be able to jump in there and give your speech. Also, keeping in close contact with the Vice President of Education (who makes up the schedule) and keeping her advised of the days you will be attending meetings will be important in ensuring you have the opportunity to participate regularly. Your progress through the Toastmasters program may be slower than that of other members, but you can definitely still benefit if you are committed.

What if I only want to learn to speak and not be involved in the leadership programs?
One of the great things about the Toastmasters program (as well as a challenge of it) is that you get out of the program what you put into it. If your goal is only speech improvement, you need not pursue leadership roles. Of course, we encourage everyone to expand their experience base and skills by participating as leaders, but it is not a requirement of the program. The program has two tracks – the communication track and the leadership track. There is some overlapping of the two tracks, and both tracks are required for the highest Toastmasters distinction (DTM – click here for more information), but it is up to the individual how much effort will be put into one or the other tracks. Additionally, working your way through the leadership track also benefits our club as a whole by helping us meet club goals set by Toastmasters International (see right column of “Events/Programs” page) and contributing to the quality and variety of our leadership.

Who makes up the schedule every week?
The schedule is made up 3-4 weeks in advance by one of our officers, the Vice President of Education.

How will I know what I’m supposed to do?
There are several resources at your disposal. First is the officers. We are available to answer questions at any time; we are here to serve our members. Second is the weekly schedule, which tells us what our functions are up to a month in advance for easy preparation. Third is this website. The webmaster strives to put as much information on this website as possible for the convenience of members (as well as visitors). Finally, new members are assigned a mentor (if the new member would like one). A mentor is an experienced member whose job it will be to guide new members through the first three speeches, provide tips and encouragement, and answer any questions that come up. You may also check out the New Member Resource page for a few tips. We also hold New Member Orientation classes as needed. If you would like to attend an orientation class, please click here to send an email inquiry to our Vice President of Membership.