On the schedule and don’t know what you’re supposed to be doing? Take a quick look here and make sure you follow through!

The Toastmaster
The Table Topics Master
The General Evaluator
A Speaker
An Evaluator
The Er/Ah/Um Counter
The Grammarian
The Voter Timer

The Toastmaster

 

As the Toastmaster, your role is crucial to the success of the meeting. YOU are responsible for a well-organized, three speaker/three evaluator program. It is your responsibility to call all speakers, the topics master, and the general evaluator at least one week prior to your meeting to verify that all your participants will be there. Don’t leave anything to chance! If someone isn’t going to make it, make sure they have found a substitute and KEEP CHECKING until you have confirmed with the sub that they are coming. A no show is YOUR problem…it’s your program!

Once you have verified everyone’s attendance, start gathering introduction information on each person you will be introducing. As Toastmaster, you will introduce each speaker, the Topics Master, and the General Evaluator. Know some basic facts about each person that you can use in your introduction and try to make it relevant to the topic of the night.

When the schedule is set, create an agenda for your program. The agenda should include the theme, names for each roles and the title of each prepared speech. You will generally need to bring 40-50 copies of the agenda to hand out at the meeting.

When you arrive at the meeting, plan to be there at least 15 minutes ahead of time. Greet each of your participants as they arrive and have a backup plan in mind if it looks like you have a no-show. Always report no-shows to the President.

When the President hands the meeting over to you, keep your comments BRIEF. Remember, you are there to facilitate the meeting, not monopolize it! Introduce the topic and get the meeting to Table Topics smoothly and expeditiously. As part of your introduction, you should explain the format of our meeting to guests and then get on with the meeting. If you need a guideline for the rough timing of all activities, check out the “Meeting Format” topic in the public area of the site.

YOU are in charge of the clock! Signal the Topics Master when he/she should wrap it up and take control of the meeting again when they’re done. Move straight into the prepared speakers. Before each speaker, you should make sure that as part of your introduction you include:

  • The title of the speech
  • The manual project the speech is taken from
  • The timing of the speech, including qualifications and light timing
  • The objectives of the manual project–let the audience know what the speakers is attempting to accomplish with the speech

If the speaker has indicated that they will need help setting up the speaking area, assist the speaker following your introduction, then sit down. Following the speech, ask the audience to offer comments about the speaker, and ask the timer for one minute to write comments. Now comes the hardest part – stand there and do nothing for one full minute! Nothing should be said or done before the timer signals you that the minute is complete.

At the end of the minute, proceed to the next speaker or, if the speeches have all been completed, ask the timer if all speakers qualified. Then ask the audience to vote from the qualified speakers. Recap briefly the speakers’ topics and then give the audience a chance to vote (30 secs or so).

Introduce the General Evaluator and sit down. Following the evaluation portion of the meeting, take control back from the GE and make a closing comment or two, then return the meeting to the President for closing.

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The Table Topics Master

 

When you are the Topics Master, you are the one people love to fear. As Topics Master, you have the opportunity to have people speak that are not otherwise on the program. This is one of the most challenging and enjoyable parts of the meeting, and its success or failure hinges on your ability to make it fun for everyone else.

Before the meeting, confirm your attendance with the Toastmaster. Ask them how many speeches are being given and how long they are. A Table Topic question lasts approximately 4 minutes each, so keep an eye on the clock. You should be done with Table Topics by 6:55 pm at the latest. Be prepared, however, with one to three additional questions should you need to fill in for a speaker that is either late or a no-show. This means that you should have between 5 and 8 questions ready for the club.

When you are introduced, briefly explain the purpose of Table Topics. Explain the timing of the speeches. (See the Timer’s Reference for more info.) Launch right into your first question, selecting from members in the audience (NOT guests) that are not on the schedule. You should ask the question first, and only then call on the participant, so that everyone can come up with an answer in their minds in anticipation of potentially being called to the front. It is also important to note here that you should call on an experienced member for the first question, which can help set an example for the rest of the participants to follow.

Your questions should generally be about the topic, and you may range as near or far to the topic as you choose. Generally, a mix of easy and hard questions is good, but try not to make them too easy or too hard, as this detracts from the meeting. If you have questions about a specific question, contact any long-time member – they will be happy to help!

When the clock shows around 6:55 pm, DO NOT start another topic. You won’t have time to finish. Instead, ask the timer if all speakers qualified. Then, ask the audience to vote from among the qualified participants for Best Table Topics. Briefly recap the speakers and their topics to assist the audience in making their selection. Pass the meeting back to the Toastmaster and enjoy the rest of the meeting!

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The General Evaluator

 

As General Evaluator, you have an awesome responsibility. From the moment the meeting is gaveled to order, you are on duty. It is up to you to evaluate the overall flow of the meeting, as well as provide feedback on the participants (except the prepared speakers) up to this point.

Remember the cardinal rule of general evaluating: Be focused! You have a vast amount of information to cover in a short amount of time. It is very easy to get distracted and begin a full-scale evaluation of one participant. You must resist! If you have had 5 Table Topics, that means you have 9 people to evaluate. Try to get it all in in less than seven minutes. Most participants will not require more than a simple comment. (Sgt at Arms, for example)

Briefly explain the evaluation portion of the meeting and its purpose for our guests. Help them to understand why this is the most important section of the meeting, and why you are offering criticism as well as praise. This, after all, is what separates us from other speaking clubs – the instant and critical evaluation.

Review the way the Sgt at Arms and President opened the meeting, but try to limit your comments to glaring errors or super-superlatives. These people function every week, and you are not going to be original commenting on the “nice way the Sgt at Arms opened.” Save your comments for the people who put a lot of effort into the meeting.

Spend some time on the Toastmaster and the Topics Master. Did they handle themselves well? Were they awkward or stumbling from speaker to speaker? Were they prepared? These are the keys to successful execution of these offices.

Comment on each Table Topics participant, but again, keep it brief. You should try to find one good thing they each did, and one thing that could be improved. Glaring errors of Toastmaster etiquette (failing to shake hands or acknowledge the TM / TTM) should ALWAYS be pointed out.

Upon completion of your general evaluation, introduce your prepared evaluators. Explain the lights and the timing of their evaluations. Again, if you need a refresher, check the Timing Reference for help. After your evaluators have spoken, ask the timer if they all qualified, and ask the audience to vote for Best Evaluator.

Introduce your three helpers (Er/Ah/Um, Grammarian, and Voter Timer) and their functions one by one. Do not yield the lectern to your helpers, but wait for them to deliver their reports and lead the applause when each finishes. Following the Timer’s report, return control of the meeting back to the Toastmaster.

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A Speaker

 

As a prepared speaker, you are one of the featured performers. As such, the meeting largely rests in your hands (along with your fellow speakers).

Prepare, prepare, prepare! And when you think you’re ready, prepare some more! This is the reason you joined Toastmasters, after all – to practice your public speaking and presentation skills. Here’s your chance to show us what you’ve learned.

No later than 6 pm Wednesday before you speak, call the Toastmaster on the schedule and inform the TM that you will be speaking. Give the TM the title, project, and timing of your speech. If you do not confirm, your speaking slot will be offered to members on the Substitute speaker list. Note that you are ultimately responsible for fulfilling the scheduled assignment or finding a substitute and will be expected to find a substitute if no substitute accepts the spot. Also, inform the TM of any special conditions you will need during your speech, or if you’ll need help setting up. If you have a longer than normal speech (10 mins or more), you may want different light timing. If so, arrange it now with the Toastmaster.

The night of the meeting, try to arrive at least ten minutes early. You will save everyone a lot of anguish over whether to start without you or not. If you may be delayed, find someone in the club with a cell phone and ask them to bring it to the meeting so you can call ahead. Make sure you touch base with your evaluator, give them your manual, and discuss specific points you may want them to watch for.

When your turn is up – go for it! The stage is all yours and we are there to hear you and support you. In the end, those who get the most out of Toastmasters are not the best speakers, but rather the speakers that tried the hardest to improve and are willing to be guided by their peers. Good luck!

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An Evaluator

 

As an evaluator, your function is crucial to the improvement of your fellow member, the speaker which you are assigned to evaluate. Do your best job for them – this is why they joined Toastmasters!

Call the General Evaluator the week before the meeting to confirm your participation. At least three days before the meeting, contact your speaker and discuss their project and what exactly they are trying to accomplish with their speech. Find out what their goals are, and if they want you to watch anything in particular during their speech.

At the meeting, arrive at least ten minutes early and check in with the General Evaluator. Then, find your speaker and get their manual from them, and go over again what the speaker would like you to watch for. READ the project ahead of the meeting to determine exactly what the speaker is required to do.

During the speech, write your comments on a blank sheet of paper, NOT the book. Try to keep your writing to a minimum so that you can focus on the speaker. After the speech has completed, organize your thoughts on the speech into what they did well and what they could improve–both are helpful to the speaker! Finally, answer the questions in the evaluation section of the speaker’s manual.

After you give your evaluation and the meeting has concluded, return the manual to the speaker and give them an opportunity to discuss your evaluation with you. You will find that the speaker will be (most of the time) extremely interested in everything you DIDN’T say, rather than what you said. It’s tough to evaluate in only three minutes!

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The Er/Ah/Um Counter

 

As the Er/Ah/Um counter, you have a very simple job. As soon as the Sgt at Arms gavels the meeting to order, you begin to count every time someone uses one of those words to fill in dead air while they think what they’re going to say next. Many counters also count “you knows” and other fillers as well. This is very helpful to the speaker because it forces them to pay attention to what they’re saying.

As a rule, we do not count for contest participants, and if a speaker has more than 10 marks, simply say “more than ten” when you report at the end of the meeting.

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The Grammarian

 

Recognized as one of the more difficult helper jobs to fill, this position is the watchdog of our use of the English language. Don’t think you have to know every last little nuance of grammar. If it sounds wrong, it probably is!

Write down the phrases or passages that you think are improper grammar, and when called upon to report, do so quickly and efficiently. Stand at your chair and simply face the person you are evaluating. After a few times, you will find that your own grammar is improving while you are catching others.

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The Voter Timer

 

It sounds so easy, but it’s so easy to get caught up in the meeting and make a simple timing mistake that costs the speaker an opportunity at Best Speaker. Diligence is the buzzword here! Do not lose yourself in the meeting, but remain attentive to both the lights and the time.

Bring the Timing Reference with you if you need it. Make sure you are aware of the times of the speeches and the lights for them before the meeting begins. If you have any questions about the timing, make sure you ask and switch the lights as close to on time as is possible.

If you do make a mistake, correct for it by switching to the next light ON TIME. Don’t try to extend the speech timing to make the light intervals correct. Most speakers will adjust to a quick light. Also, do not signal when a speaker disqualifies. Simply allow the red light to remain on until the speaker has finished. If a speaker DOES disqualify, when asked if all speakers qualified, give only the names of the speakers that qualified.

Pass the cups for each speaker after their prepared speech, and hold them for the speakers until after the meeting. When a vote is called for, pass the appropriate cup and tally the votes as soon as it comes back in. You do not vote – you break ties. If there is a tie, your vote then counts.

When you give your report, do not give the winners. The President will ask you for the winners at the end of the meeting. Announce them at that point.

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