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If you want to join a Toastmasters club, it can seem like a foreign concept in many ways. But, joining Toastmasters can improve your communication skills, grammar and vocabulary, and teach you to work in a team, among many other benefits. And luckily, it’s not too difficult to join! You might have many questions, including:
- How are you supposed to find a club to visit?
- How long does it take to go from just a guest to a member?
- Can you join multiple clubs? Should you?
In today’s blog post, I’ll be going over to all the answers to these questions- and more!
First off, let’s start with how you can find clubs to visit. One of the best ways to find a club is to use the Find a Club feature on the Toastmasters International website. Here’s how:
- Visit https://www.toastmasters.org/find-a-club.
- Using the search button, labeled “Enter specific location or address”, type in your city, and select it from the dropdown that appears. The more specific you make this information, the more relevant the results will be.
- At the bottom left side of the screen (you may or may not have to scroll down a bit to see it) you should see a list of clubs. The results show each club’s name, location, day of the week, and time of day that they meet.
- Once you find one that looks interesting, click on the name to see a more specific list of information – many clubs have their websites, club emails, or listed there. (Keep in mind that some clubs have certain qualifications and are only open to members of a certain company or group. However, many are open to everyone to join!)
- Contact the club and schedule your visit! Don’t worry, most clubs don’t require a fee for guests, and many only request you to participate once you are comfortable.
Now, let’s go over some basic etiquette and useful knowledge for visiting a Toastmasters Club:
- Be prepared to participate. While most club’s wouldn’t force you to participate, it’s really nice of you as a guest to try to. This way, the club gets to know you better, and you get to see what it’s like, which is always nice if you plan to join at some point. Before the meeting starts, you may also be asked to introduce yourself. Just in case, prepare to talk for a minute or two over the course of the meeting.
- Ask questions. If you come to the meeting early or stay for a while after, that’s often a great opportunity to chat with fellow members about their experience, watch and help them set up or put away materials for the meeting, and ask questions about how to join. If this isn’t possible, then make sure to ask questions over their contact email. If you have a friend who is already in the club, you can also communicate to them to get these questions answered.
- Do your research. If you’d like to know a bit more about how the club meeting will go ahead of time, it’s nice if you choose to visit a club where you already know someone to ask questions. But if you don’t know anyone who is in Toastmasters, you can also look up a sample schedule and job descriptions of the different roles so that you have some idea of what the meeting will be like. (A resource I’d recommend, from the Toastmasters website, can be found here.)
And finally, let’s talk about joining- and beyond! To join a club, you’ll have to fill out your membership application, which you can receive from the club you choose. Note that you have to be at least 18 years old to join the regular Toastmasters club. For anyone younger than that, you can join a Gavel Club, which is like a junior version of a regular Toastmasters club. When you join either type of club, , you’ll also be supplied with handbook(s), and you’ll be asked to pay your membership fee. After becoming a member, it may seem like a challenge to take on this new adventure. One useful idea is to ask if you can bring a friend with you to your first meeting! Not only will this make you feel more comfortable, but it gives the club another possible prospect to pitch to.
While you can join more than one club later on, it’s nice to get used to it first. Once you’re settled in and comfortable with the idea, joining more than one club can give you even more opportunities to meet new people and practice your speaking skills.
In the end, joining a Toastmasters club really is your choice. However, it can have many benefits, and visiting a club gives you the opportunity to try out different clubs without committing to them.