It is individual members who form the foundations of the Toastmasters network. The role of members is twofold.
The first role is that of the student, with the primary goal for almost everyone joining Toastmasters being to improve their public speaking skills.
There are also many opportunities to develop talents as a leader. However during a meeting there is also another role which has to be filled, that of the teacher. At Toastmasters meetings there are no designated teachers, but everyone helps everyone. This is done by giving evaluations on almost all aspects of the meeting, with the different speeches providing the focal points of the evaluation. In this way, members help each other to improve their skills in a productive and supportive environment.
It is also important to note that one learns how to give positive and constructive feedback which does not demotivate the person evaluated but instead helps him or her to grow and improve their skills.
Members are grouped together in a club. Although they vary in size, a typical club has between twenty and thirty members. The other members of your club will accompany you on your journey with toastmasters and will provide you with the intelligent support you need to grow as a speaker and leader.
As a club cannot run itself, each club has a committee to oversee the life and work of the club and ensure that objectives are met. The committee has several officer roles: President, Vice-President Education, Vice-President Membership, Vice-President Public Relations, Secretary, Treasurer, Sergeant At Arms and sometimes a designated Webmaster. Positions are filled on an annual basis to ensure rotation, and the Immediate Past President acts as a mentor to guide and find the balance between continuity and further development.
Clubs are grouped together in areas of between three and six clubs. Black Forest Toastmasters is part of area B3, together with Armada Toastmasters, Atomium Toastmasters of Brussels, Claddagh Toastmasters and Dacia Toastmasters of Brussels. Training events for club officers are held at area level. In addition clubs come together for area conferences / contests twice a year in a spirit of friendly competition.
In turn, areas are grouped together in divisions. Black Forest Toastmasters is within Division B. It contains seven areas in Belgium, Luxembourg and France. Members have the opportunity to come together at division level twice a year for the division conferences / speech contests, which bring together the winners of the area competitions.
Divisions are grouped into districts. Ours is District 59, which comprises Western and Southern Europe. Members can come together twice a year at district level for a weekend of learning, networking and experiencing the best speakers from all the divisions in the district competing for the accolade of being best speaker in their chosen event.
After district level comes the world! An international conference is held once a year, usually in the USA, with a full conference programme and the competition to find the world champion of public speaking in the International Speech Contest.