The Toastmasters organisation was started at a California YMCA in 1924 to help people overcome their fear of speaking in public, according to the Toastmasters International website. In the years since, Toastmasters meetings have become themed events where each member is given a topic based on the theme. Finding the right one can go a long way toward getting your meeting off to a good start, and there are countless Toastmaster meeting theme ideas from which to choose.
A popular movie can be a good Toastmasters meeting theme because it gives people a common point of reference to work from, and the chance to discuss plot twists that may or may not have happened in the movie. Choose a movie, and then open up topics such as how the main characters' lives may have changed as a result of the story, how the movie may have differed if plot elements had changed, and suggestions for new plot elements that could become part of a sequel.
A Toastmasters meeting using acceptance speeches as a theme can be a great deal of fun. Choose any setting you like, including the Academy Awards, the Emmys, the Pulitzer Prize for writing or even the Nobel Peace Prize. Give each participant the very basic information on what award he has won, and have him create a two-minute acceptance speech. Allow participants to determine the demeanour of the recipient, and encourage them to make up any information that may make their speech more memorable.
My Greatest Accomplishment
Part of the goal of a Toastmasters meeting is to teach people how to make effective public speeches that tell the story without losing the interest of the audience. Have participants get up to the podium one at a time and tell the story of their greatest personal accomplishment. They must keep it to no longer than five minutes, and it must be the complete story. This will not only create an interesting meeting theme, it will teach participants how to work through the emotional aspects of a speech to get to the essential points.
The Toastmasters encourage the idea of creating a character when someone is speaking in public to help the speaker say or do things they may otherwise feel uncomfortable with. Pick a character theme for the night, encourage participants to dress the part and arrive in character and then have each person give a speech based on a topic associated with the characters. For example, choose witches and warlocks as a theme for your meeting. Encourage people to dress in costume and develop their own witch or warlock character, and then ask each to speak on why they enjoy being a witch or warlock.