What’s in a Theme? Toastmasters Meeting Themes

Feb 26

To liven things up, clubs are encouraged to set unusual and fun themes for their meetings.

Note that this is completely different from the Vice President Education’s responsibility to occasionally schedule a special type of meeting: focusing on impromptu speaking, bringing in guest speakers, holding a backwards meeting, and so on. That relates to different types of content. This is simply having fun with what you say and how you present ordinary meeting content.

Good meeting themes are like “Safari,” “Vikings,” “Marx Brothers,” “Irritable Singles’ Day.” Bad meeting themes may look like “We only need three more DCP points” or “Fun” or “Personal Growth” or “Igneous vs Sedimentary Rock in Madagascar History”. What’s the difference?

A good meeting theme can be easily incorporated by multiple roles in the meeting

The meeting theme should not be too vague and general. It should not be too obtuse or esoteric. It should be an actual theme, not an announcement. When it is, you can have fun with it. A poor meeting theme is likely to be almost completely ignored.

What can you do with a meeting theme? The meeting may have a few minor differences related to the theme, or may be drastically different. The Toastmaster of the Day could mention surprising facts or jokes related to the theme. The jokemaster, invocator, wordmaster, topicsmaster could all select content based on the theme. In some cases, even the speakers may use the theme as inspiration for their speech for that meeting, if they have enough advance notice. There are many ways to go even farther with the theme, however.

I once had a “Greek Gods and Goddesses” theme and found a font with greek-like lettering to use for the agenda. No togas, though, as fun as that might be.

In celebration of Cheese Fondue Day, I filled the meeting and agenda with cheese or dairy related puns. Some were Gouda, some not so good. Did you catch that one, or did I slip it past your eyes? Instead of a bell, the ah counter struck an old metal cheese grater with a wooden spoon.

Having a Toastmasters meeting based on toast is a perfectly logical step. My crumby puns were the yeast of their worries.

We went all out for a Star Wars themed meeting. The president opened and closed the meeting by rapping a lightsaber, not a gavel, against the lectern. We had several Star Wars related prizes. Table Topics participants were chosen by dealing out Star Wars playing cards. The agendas had yellow ink printed on black paper in imitation of the opening text of the movies (note: trying to print anything on black paper works horribly. Don’t do it.)

In honor of a local festival, one of my clubs had local treats associated with the event.

Do you need to change the format of your agenda for the theme? Dress up in costume? Force everyone with a meeting role to allude to the theme? Come up with dozens of puns for the theme? Bring treats related to the theme? Replace the timing signals with something specific to the theme? Give out prizes related to the theme? Well, no. Those all can be fun, and if the urge strikes you, by all means, do everything you can to make it memorable. But at the very least, pick a fun theme at least a week ahead of time and make sure people with meeting roles know in case they want to use it.

Should your club have themed meetings? Well, why not? Some clubs may feel that having themes is too much fun and they need to be more formal. That’s fine for them. Most clubs, however, have a blast with it.

In some districts or clubs, the Vice President Education chooses the theme. In others, the Toastmaster of the Day chooses. The latter makes more sense to me; if the TMOTD is the one implementing it and making it happen, they’ll be far more passionate about their own idea than someone else’s.

The Toastmasters Magazine ran an article once encouraging themed meetings.

With bizarre holidays and so-called holidays almost every day of the year, it’s easy to get ideas for a meeting theme using a site like this.

What fun, unusual meeting theme ideas have you tried? Add them in the comments!


  1. Demitha Harangala /

    I’m from BEPZ Toastmasters Club and this is an interesting article about themes. I would like to get some suggestions of possible themes for Toastmaster Club which we could trial with innovative way.if possible, I like to share this with our Toastmaster members which could help them to learn more about club themes.

    • Of course! This is public information, so feel free to send them the link or some of the ideas. If you come up with more suggestions, feel free to add them in comments.


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