“All of us are born with a set of instinctive fears, of falling, of the dark, of lobsters, of falling on lobsters in the dark, or speaking before the Rotary Club, or the words ‘some assembly required.’” – Dave Barry
At the Fort Collins Homeschool Gavel Club, we can help!
We provide a supportive and positive learning experience resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth. Members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills.
Part of Toastmasters International
Gavel clubs follow the Toastmaster International format for development of communication and leadership skills. Members choose from a wide variety of roles for each meeting to enhance and develop these skills.
First Timer FAQs
Where are club meetings held?
Club meetings are held in the Fort Collins Libraries’ Community Rooms. We rotate WHICH library every meeting. Check the schedule before coming.
Do I need to contact a club before attending?
We recommend you contact a club prior to visiting to confirm the meeting time and location, but if you happen to be in the library and see us, you’re welcome to drop in. Guests are always welcome.
Am I required to speak at a club meeting?
No. You are not obligated to speak when visiting a club. You may simply observe if you wish.
How long do club meetings last?
Meetings last 1 hour and 15 minutes.
Do I need to bring anything to a club meeting?
No. You are not required to bring anything to a meeting.
Is there a leader or instructor?
There is no “instructor” in a Toastmasters meeting. The club will have elected club officers present at each meeting and a Toastmaster who facilitates the meeting. These roles are all fulfilled by our students. Our Gavel Club also has an Club Counselor with speaking experience who regularly gives comments and occasionally a “speech” on speaking tips. We also will be welcoming guest evaluators on occasion this year from the local Toastmasters clubs as part of their outreach to the youth in the community.
Can anyone become a member?
As long as you are at less than 18 years old, or unemployed, then you can be a part of a Gavel club. (Yes, moms can join if they like also.) Our group caters specifically to the high schoolers and middle schoolers in the Homeschool community.
Do parents have to stay during the meeting?
No, if your student is mature enough to be an active positive member of the club, parents are not required to attend as long as you are comfortable with them being left at the library by themselves. However, we strongly recommend attending your child’s speeches so you can watch their progress.
How many speeches are they required to do?
You as the parent are responsible for guiding your student into what you expect. Each student is different. I, as Club Counselor and a parent of 3 members, personally recommend catering to each child’s needs and letting them decide when they are ready to give the next speech, pushing appropriately if needed.
For instance, in our first year, one of my 10th graders needed absolutely no pushing and set his own schedule, completing 7 speeches in one term. Most of the Gaveliers completed 2 or 3 speeches in one term. My 7th grader participated in the meetings with smaller roles and still has yet to complete his first speech.
What about grades?
You as the parent are responsible for all grades. Keep in mind that the Gavel Club is set up to improve skills by active participation, and sometimes that means making mistakes. Our evaluation team always tries to present what the speaker did well and what could be improved. Even the best speakers can get better. Speakers will be asked to repeat a speech if it does not fall into the required time limits. Every speaker usually has this happen to them at least once. It usually makes them a better speaker.
How much does it cost to become a member?
Members pay annual dues of $5 and a manual fee of $8.
Quick tips for beginners:
- Ask for a mentor, an experienced Toastmaster to help you with meeting roles and speeches.
- Use stories, examples and anecdotes to craft a speech.
- Don’t overwhelm your audience with too much information.
- Practice speaking. Practice often.
- Begin and end every speech strongly.