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As the VPE in my home club, I send every new member a welcome email to give them an idea of what to expect in the next few weeks. The email includes the date of their ice breaker (which they will also get when I email out the schedule each week) and they name of their mentor, who is also CC’d on the email.

The email is below if you want to copy it and adjust it for your own needs. I have it stored as a “Canned Response” in Gmail so I can quickly customize and send it to each new member who joins.

Subject line: Toastmasters – What’s Next?
Hi —–NAME—–,

Welcome to Toasters Club! We’re excited to have you as a member.

Here’s what you should expect over the next few weeks or months at Toastmasters. The email is kind of long, but I’ve broken it down into several topics:
  • Your First Speech,
  • Your Manuals,
  • Meeting Schedules,
  • Mentor,
  • Attending Meetings,
  • A Safe Place to Fail,
  • and Where You Go From Here.
Your First Speech:
Your first speech (scheduled for —–DATE—–) is the Ice Breaker (project #1) from the blue Competent Communication manual. I believe you already received a copy of this manual. If not, let me know and I’ll get you one. The Ice Breaker is a 4 to 6 minute speech during which you simply introduce yourself to the club. In that short time, it’s hard to tell everyone everything about you, so most people narrow it to one specific area. Common topics are:

  • Why I ended up joining Toastmasters
  • Why I moved to Lubbock
  • What I do for a living
  • What I do for hobbies outside my job
  • My family
  • Etc

Don’t feel you have to limit yourself to those, though. Just introduce us to some facet of your life that you find interesting and worth talking about. The best tip I can give you for this project is to choose two or three stories from your life that relate to this topic and tell them to us. Once you start telling your stories, you’ll fill those 4 to 6 minutes very quickly.

Your Manuals:
When you joined the club you paid a new member fee of $20. That covers the cost of your first set of manuals (Competent Communication, Competent Leadership, and a few others.) You should receive these in the mail in the next week or two. In the meantime, we should have given you at least a blue Competent Communication manual (often called the CC manual) to get you started. When you get yours in the mail, if you would, please return either the original or the new one (if you’ve written in the original) so that we can give it to the next new member.

The CC manual will take you through 10 speech projects (in the back of the manual there’s an 11th titled “The Entertaining Speaker” that is actually part of one of the advanced manuals … hold off on this one until you’ve completed the first 10.) These projects build on each other by adding (or honing) various communication skills. You don’t have to do them in order. However, I would at least consider staying close to the order because they are set up as a progression of steps that build on each other. Once you complete the CC, there are 15 advanced manuals for you to choose from.

The Competent Leadership manual (often called the CL manual) is burgundy in color. Go ahead and bring that to the meetings when you attend. There are 10 projects in it which are comprised of about 21 different steps. You can complete most of that manual just by attending club meetings. It’s a prerequisite for some of the later leadership awards

Meeting Schedules:
I’m the Vice President of Education for our club. One of my jobs is to update and email the schedule to the members every week. You’ll start out as a speaker or timer. After completing those roles, you’ll move into Topics Master and Toastmaster with another Speaker & Timer role or two mixed in there. You’ll probably also have an assignment as General Evaluator during that time. Sometime after your third speech, you’ll be scheduled to be an Evaluator. We normally wait until a new member has given three speeches before they are scheduled as a Speech Evaluator. This is one of the roles that most people are apprehensive about. Waiting until you’ve given three speeches to evaluate one gives you a chance to hear a lot of other evaluations and understand how to perform the role.

Don’t worry about knowing what to do when you fulfill most of the roles. It will be fairly obvious by the time you get to them. We also have some working member guides you can read ( that should help. In addition, you’ll have a mentor (see below) who is always there to help.

One of the club officers (usually me) will assign you a new member mentor. This person will work with you to make sure you get the most out of Toastmasters. They’ll sit with you during meetings to make sure you understand what is going on and how to perform certain roles in the club. They will (or should, anyway) check in with you from time to time to see how things are going. And you are more than welcome to contact them if you have questions. Don’t feel that they are the only person you can ask, though. Toasters’ members are all very helpful. Please feel free to email or call anyone in the club.

While the assigned mentor’s role usually covers about the first three speeches, we encourage continued mentoring in our club. If you want to improve in any area of your communication or leadership skills, please find someone (or several someones) who you think can assist you and ask them to mentor or coach you. I don’t have an exact count, but I’ve probably had a dozen or more mentors & coaches since I joined Toastmasters 9 years ago.

After you’ve been in the club for a year or so, you’ll be asked if you want to mentor a new member. Or a member may see a skill in you that they want to develop in themselves and they’ll ask you to mentor them. Being a mentor to a new member or existing member is not required, but it’s a rewarding experience.

The mentor I’ve assigned to you is —–MENTORNAME—– (cc’d on this email.)

Attending Meetings:
While we love for all our members to attend every meeting, we know it’s simply not possible all the time. If you know in advance that you’ll miss a meeting (due to a trip or whatever,) please let me know and I’ll put your unavailable dates in our software so that you aren’t scheduled that day. If an absence comes up suddenly, email me or the Toastmaster for the meeting (especially if you’re listed as a working member,) and they’ll find a replacement for you.

Each week our Toastmaster (the emcee for our meetings) for the upcoming meeting will normally send out a reminder email on Monday or Tuesday before the meeting. When they do, please respond so they’ll know whether to expect you or not. This is just a confirmation routine that we’ve found helpful.

A Safe Place to Fail:

The great thing about Toastmasters meetings is that they are a safe place to stretch yourself and try something new. Even if you fail (and I’ve failed miserably at Toastmasters a number of times,) you learn something and you’re better prepared the next time. It’s much better to fail here than in front of your boss or an audience of 1000 people.

Practice your work or school presentations here. We love that. Try something new or crazy. Just remember that we have to clean up the room before we leave. 🙂

Where You Go From Here:
Many people join with the intention of either becoming a better communicator or honing the skills they already have through practice. Others join for the opportunities to work on leadership skills. When I joined, I just wanted to not throw up when leading meetings at my office. Over time, though, your goals will change. As your VP Education, another of my jobs is to answer questions and help you achieve the goals you set for yourself. That help might come from me, other club members, Toastmasters from other clubs, resources provided by Toastmasters, or even from people or resources outside our organization.

Whatever your goals in life are, good communication and leadership skills will help you achieve them. And I’m a firm believer that Toastmasters can help you build and maintain those skills. Since I joined Toastmasters 12 years ago, my goals at Toastmasters as well as in life have changed several times. I’ve stayed because I’ve found that Toastmasters continues to help me achieve goals and then set new ones.

I’m glad to have you in our club and I am looking forward to your Ice Breaker! Please let me know how I can help you.