There are quite a few Toastmaster meeting roles, with each performing a role to help make the meeting a fun, educational event. A description of each role filled at every meeting follows.
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About This Guide
While some of the information here is catered to Big "D" Toastmasters, it's designed to be a helpful guide for any Toastmaster looking for help in a role they may not have performed before.
If you have not done so, be sure to check out "A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats" (TWMH) in the Toastmasters.org Resource Library.
The Toastmaster is essentially the emcee of the evening’s meeting. This role helps us learn to prepare and run an effective meeting within time constraints. The Toastmaster plans the meeting, selects a theme, prepares an agenda and ensures all participants are ready. They then lead the meeting, manage the flow and timing of the meeting, and introduce Table Topics Master, prepared speakers, and General Evaluator.
If you are a new member, you won't be a Toastmaster of the evening for a while. At Big "D" this is one of the Toastmaster Meeting roles we reserve for members who have completed all other roles. Your club may vary, so be sure to talk to your VP of Education to find out what the rules are for your club.
This is one of the few Toastmaster meeting roles that will take up some of your time outside of the meeting. When you are assigned this role, please don't wait until the last minute to get started on it!
In the TWMH guide this is mentioned as the Introducer. Right after the Sgt. At Arms formally opens the meeting, Big "D" has our inspiration and pledge. This person starts the meeting with an inspirational, humorous or thought-provoking quote, then leads us in the pledge of allegiance. At Big "D" this is typically 1-2 minutes for the inspiration, then the pledge.
The presiding officer runs the business meeting within Big "D" Toastmasters. Nothing really found in the TWMH, this will be a club by club role. If you are the presiding officer for your meeting and have never performed this Toastmasters meeting role, then you will want to reach out to one of your club officers.
Each week our Parliamentarian ensures that the business meeting is run in accordance with Roberts Rules of Order. This role rotates among members so that everyone gets to practice this role.
Big "D" has various guides that can help you during the meeting with this role. We also have quite a few long time members that will help you identify items that need to be mentioned for the report at the end of the meeting.
If your club does not have a business meeting, then this role may not apply to your club.
Table Topics Master
The table topics master role helps us learn to “think on our feet” and speak accordingly. This person prepares a series of questions loosely centered around the theme, and then selects members without other roles, and without advance notice (that’s the kicker!) to answer one of the questions in 1-2 minutes.
As you might note in the TWMH guide, the Table Topics Master will give you the time allotment for your response. However at Big "D" we typically go 1-2 minutes.
Another difference from the TWMH guide is that we at Big "D" to not call on guests during table topics. Over 70 years we've found that many guests are nervous during their visit. We don't want to add any more stress by calling on them as a guest. However, if you are a guest who is a member of another Toastmasters club, we consider you fair game.
At Big "D" Toastmasters guests are welcomed to participate in Table Topics. However, the guest would need to inquire about who the Table Topics Master is for the day/evening, and let them know that they wish to participate.
When the Toastmaster Meeting Roles come out and you are selected for Table Topics Master, you should arrive at the meeting a few minutes early. Be sure to check the schedule to see who is scheduled to have a role, then make names of those who don't.
The evening’s speakers are the core of the Toastmasters meeting’s agenda. Serving as a speaker provides us with the greatest opportunity to practice and improve our public speaking skills. Each speaker prepares and presents a speech on a topic of the speaker’s choice. Speeches are usually 5-7 minutes, but may be longer.
The length of the speech is determined by the Pathways manual, and the time available in the meeting as determined by the Toastmaster. Remember, the Toastmasters job is to keep the meeting on time. It's possible that a speaker may be requested to lower their speaking time. This might happen in a case where something unexpected has happened, and changes are needed.
At Big "D" the General Evaluator leads the evaluation portion of the meeting. As the meeting is taking place, they are taking notes about how the meeting went. Was everything set up? Did the meeting start on time? Did the Toastmaster keep track of time? Were there interruptions that should not have happened? All of these things the General Evaluator looks for and reports on.
The TWMH guide lists a few things for the General Evaluator that we don't do at Big "D". Please check with your club to see exactly how your club handles this role.
Evaluators help us improve our public speaking by providing immediate feedback for the prepared speeches. As an evaluator, you are assigned to one prepared speaker for the night. As they give their speech, you analyze the content and delivery of their speech. You will have talked to your speaker ahead of time and know what they are looking to achieve. Using this knowledge you look for areas of strength and opportunities for improvement. At Big "D" Toastmasters, you will give a 2-3 minute evaluation of their speech.
As you might note in the TWMH guide, you can have more than one evaluator per speaker. However, we at Big "D" are fortunate enough to have the membership count available to one to one evaluations.
Want help on how to give a great evaluation? Then you should check out our YouTube Channel. In it you will find a speech by Danni Babik, a longtime Big "D" Toastmaster, who returned to the club one night to give her speech on evaluations. She was gracious enough to allow us to record and post the video.
The Grammarian helps us expand our vocabulary and awareness of language usage. There is a "Word of the Day" that is part of each meeting. At Big "D" Toastmasters, you must use this word in Table Topics in order to qualify for the coveted ribbon award. If you are a member with another scheduled speaking role you are encouraged to use the Word of the day, but it's not required.
The Grammarian is also watching out for unique uses of the language. If you are the grammarian, be sure to pay close attention to the entire meeting! You never know when something interesting will be said. At the end of the meeting the Grammarian gives a report on what they heard.
Guests visiting for the first time may find this to be one of the most annoying Toastmaster meeting roles performed each night. What does the Ah Counter do? Let's get a quote from the TWMH guide.
The purpose of the Ah-Counter is to note unnecessary words and sounds used by members who speak during the meeting. Words or phrases that may be used inappropriately or unnecessarily include and, well, but, so, and you know. Sounds may include ah, um, and er. Serving in the Ah-Counter role provides an excellent opportunity to practice listening skills.A TOASTMASTER WEARS MANY HATS, Page 11. Retrieved 02/01/2019
While some may find this role to be rude it is actually very helpful. Sometimes we speak and don't realize the stumbles or catch phrases we use in every day speech. The Ah Counter is there to help you notice when you do this.
The timer/vote counter helps us learn to create and deliver speeches that meet a time specification. It is one of the most important Toastmaster meeting roles there is. This member records the time duration of all table topics, prepared speeches and evaluations, and reports if the presentation was within the allotted time. They also conduct a voting process for Best Table Topic Speaker, Best Speaker, and Best Evaluator, collect and count the votes submitted by members and guests for the three “best-of-category” contests and the Toastmaster Of The Evening award, at each meeting.
At Big "D" Toastmasters the Timer/Vote counter is sometimes not called on when they should be. As a role holder it's important for you to step up and remind the Toastmasters, Table Topics Master, or General Evaluator, that you need to explain your role or the timing rules for a particular segment.
Every Role Is Important
As you can see there are many Toastmaster meeting roles that need to be filled each week. All Toastmasters are expected to fulfill these roles as best they can. If you have questions about how a role works or what you need to do, please be sure to reach out a club officer to the Toastmaster of the Week.
Want to Join Toastmasters?
Big "D" Toastmasters in Dallas, Texas, is always welcoming of guests to visit our club and see what Toastmasters is all about. We may be the club for you, we may not. You won't know until you visit us.
To learn more about Big "D" Toastmasters click here.
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