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Frequently Asked Questions



[spoiler intro=”General” title=”What is Toastmasters”]Toastmasters is a world leading organisation which promotes communication and leadership development. Members join a club and attend meetings, where they practice all forms of public speaking and provide each other with support and encouragement. More information on Toastmasters international can be found here.[/spoiler]

[spoiler intro=”General” title =”How Does Toastmasters Work?”]A Toastmasters club is a “learn-by-doing” workshop in which men and women hone their skills in a comfortable, friendly atmosphere. A typical club has 20 to 40 members who meet weekly or biweekly to learn and practice public speaking techniques. The average club meeting lasts approximately two hours. Annual Membership is about the same as that of a typical short Night School Course.[/spoiler]

[spoiler intro=”General” title=”How is Toastmasters Organised?”]Every new Toastmaster joins a specific club. Each club has 20 – 50 members, and is part of an area. Each area has four members and is part of a division. Each division is then part of a larger district. The district covering Great Britain and Ireland is known as District 71. More information on how Toastmasters is organised can be found here.  [/spoiler]

[spoiler intro =”General” title=”How is a Toastmasters Club Organised?”]Every Toastmasters club is organised by a voluntary committee, consisting of a President, Vice President of education, Vice President of Membership, and Treasurer. The committee organises a venue and time for meetings, puts together a program of speeches and generally makes sure the club runs smoothly.[/spoiler][/spoilergroup]


[spoiler intro =”Club Questions” title=”What are the Roles at a Meeting?”] At every Hellfire meeting you will see club members adopt a range of different roles, and each role has a different title. The main roles are:

  • President – Wears a very fancy gold chain and sits at the top table. This is a committee position, that is elected once yearly.
  • Toastmaster – Sits in the centre at the top table. Is responsible for organising and chairing a meeting of Toastmasters. A different member is asked to act as Toastmaster each week so that one person doesn’t have too much work, and to give everyone experience of the role.
  • Topicsmaster – The final person at the top table. Asks members of the audience to answer a question (Topic), and speak for two minutes on it. They’re usually the person everyone is being extra nice to at tea break.
  • Timekeeper – Sits at the front of the audience on the right, times member speeches and responses, and uses a one of a kind lighting system to issue warnings. Keeping speeches to time is a key part of Toastmasters.
  • Sergeant at Arms – Gives a quick safety briefing and introduction at the beginning of the meeting. Think of them as an air hostess without the yellow plastic thing.

For more about what happens at a meeting of Hellfire Toastmasters, see here. [/spoiler]

[spoiler intro =”Club Questions” title=”What Happens at a Hellfire Toastmasters Meeting?”]People get up and speak, then some more people speak, then there’s a tea break. After the tea break some more people speak.

The speeches are all short, usually 7 minutes is the maximum. We’re pretty strict on time. They’re very varied. The last meeting I was at had a speech on the perils of online dating, the one before that on Rhino’s in South Africa. You never quite know what people will speak about, but you end up finding out a lot of information you never would otherwise.

For a more formal answer, the typical format we use for Hellfire Toastmaster meetings is described here. [/spoiler]

[spoiler intro =”Club Questions” title=”Can I Just Show Up To A Meeting?”]Yes. Guests are always welcome. Come alone or with a friend. Our meetings are every Tuesday, September – Mid December and Mid January – June. They start at 8pm and they’re in the D4 Hotel, Ballsbridge.

You can see the full details here.[/spoiler]

[spoiler intro =”Club Questions” title=”What Sort of Members Do You Have?”]In Hellfire our membership is extremely varied. Our youngest members are in their early twenties and our oldest memories are in their 80’s. (I think, to be honest, I’m kind of scared to ask). There are architects, engineers, senior managers, students, bankers, healthcare workers, salesmen and a whole range of other professions.

We have some members who are nervous first time speakers, people preparing for best man speeches right the way up to people preparing for father of the bride speeches and with twenty years experience in Toastmasters. [/spoiler]

[spoiler intro=”Club Questions” title=”What Is Expected Of Me As A Toastmaster?”]

Being a Toastmaster means more than simply making a commitment to self-development. Everyone who joins a Toastmasters club is making a commitment to the club, to its members, and to the organization as a whole.

In general Hellfire members are expected to:

  • Attend club meetings regularly;
  • To prepare speeches and leadership projects to the best of your ability, basing them on projects in the Competent Communication manual, Advanced Communication manuals or Competent Leadership manual;
  • To prepare for and fulfill meeting assignments;
  • To provide fellow members with helpful, constructive evaluations;
  • To help the club maintain the positive, friendly environment necessary for all members to learn and grow;
  • To treat fellow club members and our guests with respect and courtesy;
  • To adhere to the guidelines and rules for all Toastmasters educational and recognition programs;
  • To maintain honest and highly ethical standards during the conduct of all Toastmasters activities.[/spoiler][/spoilergroup]


Toastmasters District

Toastmasters Clubs are organised into groups of four or five called areas, areas are organised into divisions and divisions are organised into districts. Hellfire is part of District 71, Division M, Area 18.

District 71 covers Britain and Ireland and represents 7,500 toastmasters.

Division M includes Dublin and Wicklow, and has four areas each with four clubs.

Find Out Why You Should Join Hellfire →


Hellfire is part of Area 18, which includes

  • Hellfire, Open to all
  • AIB, Open to AIB staff
  • Engineers, Open to all
  • PowerTalk, Open to all

And there are a range of other Toastmaster clubs nearby, including:


Leadership Manual

When you join Toastmasters, you not only learn to speak by following the Competent Communicators Manual, you also learn the basics of organising and running meetings, time management, motivating people, giving feedback and much more.

Like the Competent Communicators Manual, the Toastmasters Leadership Manual is a ten step program that leads to an award. The ten steps are:

  1. Listening and Leadership
  2. Critical Thinking
  3. Giving Feedback
  4. Time Management
  5. Planning and Implementation
  6. Organising and Delegating
  7. Developing Your Facilitation Skills
  8. Motivating People
  9. Mentoring
  10. Team Building

Competent Communicator

Toastmasters don’t do “Public Speaking for Beginners” courses, but if they did, the competent communicator manual would be it. Your first ten speeches at toastmasters are a series, and each speech has a different objective. The aim is to get you thinking about and comfortable with all aspects of public speaking.

The first ten speeches are:

  1. The Ice Breaker: A simple speech where all you have to do is introduce yourself.
  2. Organise your Speech: Give a speech with a simple structure.
  3. Get to the Point: Give a speech with a purpose.
  4. How to Say It: Choose your words and sentences carefully
  5. Your Body Speaks: Think about how you move during your speech.
  6. Vocal Variety: Vary your tone, pace, power and add pauses.
  7. Research Your Topic: Practice using sources to back up what you say.
  8. Get Comfortable With Visual Aids: Use flipcharts, props, powerpoint, whiteboards etc. to get your message across.
  9. Persuade with Power: Practice the art of motivation
  10. Inspire Your Audience: Use all your skills to date to deliver a powerful inspirational message.


You are asked a question and you have two minutes to answer.

It is the single most hated part of most toastmaster meetings, but like anything else there is a skill to it.

  1. Don’t Panic : Yes you’re on the spot, but take a deep breath and ten seconds to think. There is time.
  2. Take an Angle: Topics are easier if you espouse a viewpoint, it doesn’t have to be what you really feel, it doesn’t have to be true. It’s a two minute answer, tunnel vision is perfectly acceptable.
  3. Try for Structure: Repeat the question with a different wording, try to make two or three specific points, then conclude. It will reduce your fear and panic, while making you sound more coherent.
  4. Speak Slowly: It gives you more time to think

And at the end you get to sit down!

How to Debate

If you’re interested in Debating regularly, Hellfire is the club for you. At Hellfire we have a debate every week. They’re a great opportunity to practice arguing a point, speaking off the cuff from the floor and from the podium, and to think about issues you never normally think about.

The four keys to the art of debating are:

  1. Passion: Nothing wins a debate like passionately believing in your side of the argument. Let that passion show through in your voice, in your stance and in your gestures.
  2. Preparation: Know your argument and almost as important, know what your opponent is likely to argue. Arm yourself with responses to answers and not only will your arguments hold together and be more convincing, knowing that you’re well prepared will give you the confidence to relax.
  3. Poise: Even if your opponent is right, they don’t have time to double check. Have the confidence to act like you’re right and you will win.
  4. Performance: Then bring it all together on the day!

The most important thing at Hellfire is to have fun, with the topic, with your opponent and with the audience. Take the opportunity to try out new techniques, speak quietly, loudly, in front of the podium, use an anecdote. Hellfire provides a safe space to practice and a safe space to fail, so that when you go out and argue in the real world, you’re fully prepared to succeed.

Membership Fees

The Hellfire Toastmasters year runs from January – December, but you can join at any point during the year. For 2013:

  • Yearly membership costs €150
  • If you’re a student/unemployed, yearly membership costs €100
  • If you’re retired, yearly membership costs €130
If you join in the middle of the year, then the membership fee is pro-rata’d.

There is an additional once off joining fee of €20, which goes to Toastmasters International.

The membership fee covers the running of the club, which is mainly fees to Toastmasters International of $72 per member per year, rent of room and competition fees.


Meeting Location

Now that you’ve decided to attend the next Hellfire Toastmasters meeting, all you need to know is when and where . . .

Hellfire Toastmasters meets every Tuesday in the Ballsbridge Hotel, Pembroke Road Dublin 4. Arrive at 7.45pm for an 8pm start. Meetings finish (before) 10.30pm. There’ll be a sign telling you where to go in reception, but we’re nearly always in the Mezzanine Room.

Guests are always welcome, and there’s no charge.

  • When: Every Tuesday, 7.45pm for 8pm
  • Where: D4 Hotel, Pembroke Road, Ballsbridge, Dublin 4

Getting here:

  • Drive and park on Pembroke Rd or Landsdowne Rd, free weekday evenings.
  • DART to Landsdowne Road and walk ten minutes
  • Buses that stop in front of the hotel include the 4, 7, 7A, 8, 18 and 120
  • Walk or Cycle in less than 15 minutes walk from Merrion Square (North)

 Find Out What Happens At A Hellfire Toastmasters Meeting →

View Pembroke Rd. (Jurys Hotel) in a larger map

Meeting Format

A Hellfire Toastmasters Meeting

Meeting in Progress

Every club does slightly different things at meetings. Some meet every week, some every fortnight, some do debates, some focus more on speeches, some have a summer break, some don’t.

At Hellfire, we meet every Tuesday at 8pm, in the D4 Hotel, Ballsbridge

The weekly programme is usually:

Speeches: These are given by members old and new, on topics from online dating to dancing, to the history of the German national anthem. Most meetings have three or four speeches and most speeches are about six minutes long.

Debate: One of the more unusual features of Hellfire Toastmasters is that we have a debate every week. The proposer and opposer both speak for 4 minutes, then all meeting attendees can comment on the issues raised. This gives everyone a great opportunity to practice thinking on their feet, and gain the confidence to give short impromptu speeches. The opposer and the proposer are then given two minutes to sum up and the winner is decided by public vote.

Tea Break: Because sometimes it’s nice to chat.

Topics: A “topicsmaster” will state a question or topic briefly and then call on a respondent. Each speaker receives a different topic or question and participants are called on at random and have up to two minutes to reply

Evaluations: Since toastmasters is about improving your public speaking abilities, every speech is evaluated by an experienced toastmaster. Every speaker is given constructive feedback on what they did right, how they met the aims in their speech and what they could do better next time.

General Evaluation: (almost) finally, the evening as a whole is quickly summed up by one person. The general evaluation can comment on any aspect of the meeting, but it’s usually used to give feedback to the debators, the topicsmaster and the evaluators.

Trophies: At Hellfire, we award three trophies at every meeting

  • Best Topic Awarded by the topicsmaster for the best response to a topic
  • Best Evaluation Awarded by the General Evaluator for the most helpful evaluation
  • Best Contribution Awarded by the general evaluator to whoever made the best contribution of the evening.

And then we go home!

If you want to read a bit more on a meeting, there are regular blog posts about our weekly meetings in the News section, or simply come along and find out for yourself!

Attend The Next Meeting →