Club Meeting Roles

It’s great giving speeches at Toastmasters. You have the support of members performing meeting roles like the Timekeeper and Evaluator. and more! They like to give speeches too and they need people to do these roles when it is their turn to give a speech.

The Ten Promises of Toastmasters encourages us to perform roles in the meetings. You can volunteer through EasySpeak which helps meeting planners organise the meeting. Meeting roles tend to fall into two groups: 1. Feedback roles involving listening and giving evaluations and 2. Administrative roles which keep the meeting functioning. Below are plain English explanations with links to Toastmasters International if you need further help.

Feedback Roles

Ah Counter

Some speakers need to get rid of habits that detract from their speaking. Your job is to politely and constructively point out these habits.

These habits tend to be of two types.

The first are sounds they make to fill the silence. Usually, “Er” or “Ah” or “You know.” The problem is the speaker is thinking but feels obliged to fill the silence with any sound. You need to help them stop it. The best way is to tell them that if they feel a sound like these coming out; stop and pause!

The second type of sound are casual expressions like, “You know,” or repeating a word. For example, “The, the window was open.”

You help speakers by making them aware of this. You can count instances or perhaps say that they did something “more than once/several times.” You aim to have them stop the bad habits.

If you find that speakers did not use any of these expressions or filler words do let them know.

Evaluator

The role of the Evaluator is a demanding one. Here, you are focussed on a single speaker.

Find out what the speaker is going to speak about and use the TMI Evaluation Forms (here is a list with links by our colleagues in New York) to look at the criteria they need to meet. Look for evidence to support your finding.

You will introduce the speaker stating which Pathway module they are doing and an overview of their objectives. State the title of the speech and introduce the speaker.

Listen and watch. Listen and watch very carefully. How did they perform against their criteria? How well structured was the speech? As an audience did you follow it easily?

Later, following the listening part, the Toastmaster will ask you to give an evaluation.

You can give commendations – what they did well. But, constructively, give recommendations too. Did body language support the message, for example, and was the voice clear, was their good eye contact, did the speech engage the audience and more.

When you give your report you will have a lot of notes. Structure these and use this to give an evaluation speech of your own! You do NOT need to tie yourself to the criteria because you will fill these in and give them to the speaker. Just tell the audience what was good and what needed to be improved.

Grammarian

You are the counterpart to the Ah Counter. Whereas the Ah Counter is trying to stop things that detract from a speech – your role is to tell them what they said that was good.

You are looking for whatever made the speaker sound good. It could be a strong vocabulary, rhetorical devices like the rule of 3 or contrasts, vivid imagery from the words or words pleasing to the ear.

These are strengths of the speaker and they need to be made aware of them.

General Evaluator

Next to the Toastmaster, the General Evaluator is very demanding. You are effectively a quality checker to ensure that Hull Speakers maintains its meeting quality and improves.

Your role is primarily to evaluate the evaluators. You are not evaluating the speakers that they evaluated; but whether their evaluation was as helpful as it could have been, their style and improvements.

You also evaluate the Toastmaster, the supporting roles (Ah counter, Grammarian, Timekeeper) and the meeting as a whole. Look not only for things that could have been done better; but what was not done at all?

Did the meeting go as planned, could it be improved, were things missed? For example, did members engage with guests. You will not pick up on everything, there will not be time, so refine your observations and focus on the most important.

Try to end on a high. Do mention the things that the club did well.

Administrative Roles

Sergeant at Arms

Your roles include:

  1. Opening the meeting and ensuring that the emergency exist locations are known and to ask members to mute their telephones.
  2. Introduce the Toastmaster
  3. To hand out pens, forms and other needs of members during the meeting. Generally to support the Toastmaster.
  4. To collect then count ballots when votes occur. Give the results to the Toastmaster.
  5. After the break, call the meeting to order.

Toastmaster

This is the most important role as the buck stops with you!

Relax. You are in charge. So, be decisive. Be guided by the Agenda times but not tied to them rigidly. You may extend one part and cut another, for example.

When opening the meeting be positive about Toastmasters, its history of helping people with leadership and public speaking, state the number of clubs worldwide (16,000+) and membership (345,000+)

You can try a warm up exercise. This is good when we have less than 3 speeches. Use expressions like, “In a sentence tell us….” or “In a short statement…” and reiterate what the speaker said to show you listened.

Introduce the Ah Counter, Timer and Grammarian and the Evaluators at the appropriate time.

If a speaker is over time you can still allow it. That’s good if they are a new speaker. If they are experienced you should be firmer unless they have merged two roles or doing a Q&A.

Meet and Greet

This is really for all members but individuals are often assigned to ensure focus.

Meeters and Greeters welcome new guests, put them at ease, tell them where they can sit and ask them to sign the guestbook.

This is an important role because it gives the first impression of the club.

Don’t be nervous – the guest probably is. Just get into conversation with the guest – what do they hope to achieve through Toastmasters? Don’t grill them!!

Timekeeper

The Toastmaster relies heavily on you.

In your introduction explain that keeping to time helps speakers keep to the point. Explain the Red, Amber, Green timings and that i is necessary to speak until the green and wind down within 30 seconds on seeing the red.

Explain that the three times are on the Agenda. If you give an example, use Table Topics G=1 minute, A = 1.5 minutes, R = 2 minutes with a 30 second wind down. That’s because it is more useful to most members.

When members speak, hold the card up clearly and quietly and discretely waive it. Try to get eye contact with the speaker who usually gives a nod. Once you think they have seen you put the card in the rack facing them.

During Table Topics jot down the speaker, ALSO, the topic they speak on and then the time. This way you can summarise and remind the members. For example, Paul talked for 2 minutes 15 seconds on a Martian invasion and so is in time.

You will also be asked to give a minute on the clock so that members can jot down feedback for speakers and again when it comes to vote.

Table Topics Master

You give the topics for impromptu speaking of about 1-2 minutes.

Your role is NOT to pick the hardest thing to speak about; on the contrary pick subjects that you think members have plenty of latitude for. There are a lot of topics on the internet – but many of these a dull and mundane. It’s better, if you can, to look for something that has an interest angle or humour.

You are doing your job well if member stand up and can really get in to the topic.

Advice, keep a few spare questions in case a speaker struggles so you can offer an alternative.

For guests, thank them for having a go and tell them not to worry about being rigid to the subject (although members should keep on topic.) Put the guest at ease and show understanding for their first speech. Tell them that, if they wish, you can give them a topic of their choice for the first occasion eg my favourite holiday. If they did struggle, praise them for trying.

Try to build up your roles. Start with the easy ones like Sergeant at Arms and Timekeeper, then build up to Ah Counter and Grammarian, next do an Evaluator role and then aim to be Toastmaster. Don’t worry about any of these. Speak to an experienced member beforehand. If you are in the middle of the role on the night and hit an issue – ask the Toastmaster at a suitable moment.

Learn more about joining