Meeting Roles



1. The Toastmaster is responsible for running a smooth and efficient meeting and for introducing the participants in the programme in a pleasant, encouraging manner.

2. One week before the meeting you will receive final details of the programme from the VPE. Contact everyone on the programme (except the speech evaluators, as this is the responsibility of the General Evaluator) to check that they have not forgotten their assignment, to confirm the stages being delivered by the speakers and, if necessary, to get a few biographical details for your introductions. Inform the VPE immediately if you find that any scheduled participant will be absent from the meeting.

3. Remind speakers to bring their evaluation forms to the meeting to be completed by their evaluator.

4. Impress on everyone on the programme that if they have to cancel their assignment at short notice, they should attempt to find a replacement for the gap they have created (unless the cancellation is due to serious illness, bereavement etc). Otherwise they should contact you or the VPE; if sufficient notice is given another member may be able to avail of a vacant speech slot or role.

5. Produce a sufficient quantity of written programmes for the meeting, using the programme from a previous meeting as a template if desired. Allow a few extra copies for guests.

6. Plan a short introduction for the meeting, perhaps using an appropriate quotation or short anecdote. Prepare a few remarks about the participants in the programme e.g. how long they have been in the club, whether this is the first time they have undertaken a particular role, a reminder of a memorable speech they have already delivered, an interesting fact from their Icebreaker etc.

7. Draw up step-by-step notes of what you will need to do throughout the meeting. Members who have already done the role will be happy to give you their notes to use as a template.


8. Be present no later than 7.45pm so that you can check on all the participants in the programme as they arrive. This is your opportunity to
– note titles of speeches;
– check whether any of the speakers would like a helper to set up their props or flipchart;
– make sure that the Timer knows how to operate the lights;
– agree with the General Evaluator which of you will call on the Wordmaster/Grammarian, Ah Counter and Timekeeeper for their reports;
– make sure that you and/or the Guest Greeter know if there are guests such as the Area Governor, members of other Clubs etc, as their presence and the nature of their business at the meeting should be mentioned.

9. Stand and take control of the meeting from the President, who will hand over the gavel with the handle presented for your grasp.

10. Make your introductory welcoming remarks, point out the safety exits as legally required and ask for mobile phones to be switched off.

11. You may wish to give a very brief outline of the programme and you will need to draw attention to any last minute changes.

12. Call on the Guest Greeter, Grammarian/Wordmaster, Ah Counter and Poetmaster. The protocol is that the Toastmaster stays standing until they have reached the lectern and indicated their readiness to begin by addressing you as “Mr/Madam Toastmaster”. As soon as they have finished and again addressed you, stand until they have returned to their place in the audience.

13. Invite the Timer to say a few words about timing the replies to Topics. Introduce the Topicsmaster and hand over control of the meeting, taking the gavel by its head and presenting the Topicsmaster with the handle.

14. Accept control of the meeting from the Topicsmaster at the end of the topics session and announce the break and resumption time.

15. Resume meeting promptly and introduce the General Evaluator, who will have joined you at the Top Table. Call on the Timer to explain the timing of the speeches, evaluations and general evaluation.

16. Introduce the speakers. Remember to stay standing until they reach the lectern and have indicated they are ready to start by addressing you as “Mr/Madam Toastmaster”.

17. Allow the audience two minutes between speeches to fill evaluation slips.

18. Hand control of the meeting to the General Evaluator.

19. At the end of the evaluations and general evaluation, accept control of the meeting back from the General Evaluator, address the meeting briefly, perhaps using another quotation or anecdote, and hand control back to the President.

Note: The Toastmaster should lead the applause as each participant in the programme comes to the lectern and again when they are returning to their seat.

Acting as Toastmaster will help you develop a number of important leadership skills. You can concentrate on one of the following skills each time you are Toastmaster:
– Time Management 
– Planning and implementation 
– Facilitation skills
– Motivating people 
– Team building 




1. Find a quotation or a short anecdote to reinforce your words of welcome. You will be addressing guests who are probably attending their first Toastmaster meeting, so suitable themes would be welcome/starting new ventures/meeting new friends etc. Another approach would be to prepare a few words appropriate for the time of year, e.g. Spring, Valentine’s Day, Halloween – or some historical or amusing event that happened ‘on this day’; this is particularly useful if no guests turn up on the night and you only have members to address!


1. Be present at 7.45pm. Wait beside the Sergeant-at-Arms and have a few words with guests as they arrive. When reading out the list of guests, you could add a few comments, such as “(name…) heard about Toastmasters from a colleague at work; (name…) tells me that she needs to work on her public speaking for making presentations in college, (name…) has come along to give moral support to his wife (name..) who is delivering her Icebreaker tonight, etc..”

2. When the meeting starts, take the attendance book from the Sergeant-at-Arms or work from your own list of guests. The Toastmaster will call on you and he/she should stay standing until you reach the lectern. Address him or her as you begin.

3. Sample formula: “Mr Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters, we have (number) guests tonight, (and read out the names, with comments). You are all very welcome to East Coast Toastmasters. We hope that you will enjoy our meeting. We have a typical Toastmasters programme tonight, which will give you a good idea of how the Toastmaster method works. Please don’t worry about being called on to speak – as guests you will just sit back and enjoy the evening. Members of the club will be happy to answer your questions about the programme, especially at the tea-break. We hope you will enjoy the meeting so much that you will consider joining the club…..”

5. Finish by turning and addressing the Toastmaster again with just “Mr/Madam Toastmaster”.

Extend the Guest Greeter role by befriending one of the guests and ensuring that they are fully informed of the proceedings during the meeting.




1. The Grammarian/Wordmaster is responsible for introducing new words to members, for commenting on the use of English during the course of the meeting and for providing examples of good grammar and word usage.


2. Choose an interesting word that can easily be incorporated into topics. It should be a word that will help members expand their vocabulary – a word that can be incorporated easily into everyday conversation.

3. Print the word on a piece of card; make sure it’s large enough to be seen by those at the back of the room.


4. It is a good idea to attach your card with sellotape to the front edge of the lectern before the meeting begins and fold it back out of sight onto the lectern until you are called on by the Toastmaster. This avoids struggling with the sellotape when called to the lectern.

5. When you are called upon by the Toastmaster, come to the lectern, address the Toastmaster, flip your card over so that the audience can see your word and explain its meaning. Give one or two sentences that show how the word is correctly used.

6. Take notes throughout the evening of the number of times the word is used and any particularly good usage. Tactfully mention any cases in which the word was used incorrectly.

7. During the meeting note any particularly good and vivid use of language. Also note any mistakes in word usage, pronunciation and grammar.

8. Give a short verbal report when called upon by the General Evaluator. The report should be honest, specific and helpful. Comments on incorrect word usage or grammar should be given tactfully without naming the member(s) in question, as this could cause embarrassment. The comments could be phrased as ‘something we should keep in mind…’ or ‘in some parts of the country I know they say …… but I think the strictly correct usage is …….’
Acting as Grammarian/Wordmaster will help you develop a number of important leadership skills. You can concentrate on one of the following skills each time you are Grammarian/Wordmaster:
– Listening 
– Critical thinking 
– Giving feedback 
– Time management 




1. Explain the function of the Ah Counter when called upon by the Toastmaster, i.e. to heighten our awareness of ‘ahs’, ‘mms’ and other superfluous phrases.

2. During the meeting, note the number of ‘ahs’, mms’ etc used by all participants except guests. Keep a note of the ‘offenders’.

3. Give a short verbal report when called upon by the General Evaluator. You can opt to ‘name names’ – provided of course that this is done tactfully, or offer instead to let people consult your list after the meeting. It can be a good idea to list the people who used no superfluous phrases, leaving the others to draw their own conclusions.

Acting as Ah Counter will help you develop your listening skills.



1. Select a poem and practice reading it aloud until you are fully familiar and comfortable with it. The piece chosen, either a full poem or an extract, should take at most 3 or 4 minutes to read.

2. Have some short introductory remarks, e.g. your reason for choosing the poem or some brief information on the poet.

3. Do not approach the lectern until the Toastmaster has finished his/her introduction and called on you. When you reach the lectern, start by addressing “Mr/Madam Toastmaster, fellow Toastmasters” and finish with just “Mr/Madam Toastmaster”.



1. Prepare a list of suitable topics. Sources will include newspapers, radio, television, magazines etc. It is usual to have at least 10 topics ready in case the audience is slow to respond or you find that answers to one topic have in fact covered several of your topics.

2. Topics should be of wide general interest. State the topic as clearly and briefly as possible. In East Coast Toastmasters, as in many other toastmaster clubs, our policy is to avoid questions re sex, religion and politics – strongly expressed views on these subjects can distress or anger other members of the club.

3. Be present at 7.45pm. Use this time to observe members arriving and to make a rough plan of whom you will call on for the first response to each topic. Remind the Sergeant at Arms to bring you the attendance book before the Topics session starts; this is particularly important if you are new to the club and not familiar with all the members. Take your place at the top table.

4. Stand to take control of the meeting when the Toastmaster presents you with the handle of the gavel. (Call on the Sergeant-at-Arms for the attendance book if it has not already been delivered). Stay standing while you give your short explanation of the purpose of topics, pointing out that contributions should not normally exceed 2 minutes and that you will normally not take more than 3 replies on each topic. Assure guests that they are welcome to contribute but will not be called upon. Then sit and begin with your first topic.

5. At the end of the session (exact time agreed in advance with the Toastmaster), stand, thank the participants and return control of the meeting to the Toastmaster (giving back the gavel with the handle presented for grasping).
6. Ideally, all present, with the exception of guests, should be asked to speak. [New members sometimes need the extra encouragement of a hint before the meeting of what they might be asked]. Do not give your own thoughts on the topics – this is other members’ opportunity to speak.

7. Maintain eye contact with the speakers as they reply to your questions, but be on the alert for others who are signalling that they want to ‘come in’. Be selective – try to give everyone in the room the opportunity to speak before taking second and third contributions from more experienced speakers.

8. Three replies are enough on any one topic, but be prepared to make an exception and take further replies if responses are particularly lively and the members are enjoying them.

9. Be firm on the time limit, though this is seldom a problem. As the timer will already have explained that the bell will be rung gently at 2 minutes, no offence will be taken if the Topicsmaster needs to give a further signal at 2 minutes 30 seconds.

Acting as Topicsmaster will help you develop a number of important leadership skills. You can concentrate on one of the following skills each time you are Topicsmaster:
– Time Management 
– Planning and implementation 
– Facilitation skills 




1. Be present at 7.45pm. Check that the lights are working and positioned where the speakers will be able to see them clearly.

2. If you are not familiar with how the stop watch and lights work, ask the VPE or Toastmaster for a demonstration.

3. Check with the Toastmaster on the times allowed for the speakers and evaluators.

4. Take your place where the lights can be seen by the speakers. When introduced by the Toastmaster, you may wish, as well as explaining the various time limits, to say a few words about the importance of timing when speaking in public. For replies to Topics, give a gentle tinkle of the bell at 2 minutes, indicating that the speaker should ideally finish within the next 30 seconds.

5. Take careful note of the duration of the speeches, the evaluations and the General Evaluation and read the times out clearly when called upon to do so.

Acting as Timekeeper will help you develop the important leadership skill of time management.



1. If the VPE has scheduled you to speak, the Toastmaster for the evening will contact you about a week before the meeting to confirm which stage you are working on and to get the title of your speech. In the final week before the meeting, if for any reason you find that you cannot meet your commitment to speak, you should attempt to find a replacement for the gap you have created in the programme. With the limited number of meetings in the year, there will probably be another member happy to get the speech slot. Contact the VPE and the Toastmaster for the meeting and inform them of the situation.

2. You will also be contacted by the evaluator of your speech in the week before the meeting. He/she will want to confirm that you have no problems addressing the stage objectives and will be happy to offer advice if requested.

3. Be present at 7.45pm. Give your Competent Communicator manual or Advanced Communicator manual to your evaluator. Make sure that the Toastmaster has the title of your speech.

4. Check out the position of the lectern and lights. If using props or a flipchart, you may wish to ask someone to move them into position for you while the audience is filling in the evaluation slips for the previous speaker.

5. Do not approach the lectern until the Toastmaster has finished the introduction and says “With a speech entitled ……., please welcome ……..”. Come to the lectern and, while the Toastmaster remains standing, take a few seconds to arrange your notes and check your props or flipchart, then indicate that you are ready to begin by addressing the Toastmaster. When you have finished your speech, address the Toastmaster again and return to your seat.

6. When your evaluator returns your sheet with his/her written comments, you can updated your record on pathways and file it away.

As well as having your speech evaluated orally under the Competent Communicators Manual, arrange to have your performance evaluated in relation to one of the following leadership skills:
– Time Management
– Planning and implementation 



1. You will need to read the manual instructions for the Stage being delivered, taking particular note of the objectives and evaluation notes. If you are evaluating a speech from an Advanced Manual, it is possible that you will not have worked from the manual in question; in this case, it is important to get details of the project from either the speaker or VPE.

2. Contact the speaker at least 5 days before the meeting. Confirm that he/she is totally familiar with the objectives and offer advice if there are difficulties with the preparations. Ask whether there are any aspects of the speech on which the speaker would welcome particular comments, e.g. to watch out for ‘ahs’ and ‘mms’, to advise on body language etc.

3. Remind the speaker to bring his/her manual to the meeting.

4. Be present at 7.45pm. Have an encouraging word with the speaker and take his/her manual. Sit where you will have a clear view of the lectern.

5. Introduce your speaker and outline objectives of their speech.  During the speech, listen carefully and make written notes on the aspects of the speech and delivery on which you intend to comment.

6. When called on by the General Evaluator, come to the lectern, address the General Evaluator, your fellow Toastmasters and the Speaker (by name).

7. Be positive: Emphasise strong points. Give genuine praise. Do not give a detailed resumé of the content of the speech (for example, do not repeat – ‘You opened with a story about your childhood where you told us about ……., you went on to tell us about the modern approach to parenting by giving us…’ etc, etc.). Instead give your assessment of how interesting, well-structured, well-researched, entertaining etc the speech was (for example, ‘Your opening story about your childhood was apt and funny and it got us into the right mood for your message; you gave us your message about the importance of parenting in three very strong points that were well developed and that supported your main theme; your finishing quotation was very effective ..etc).

8. Comment on whether and how the objectives for the stage were met: This is vital.

9. Offer constructive suggestions: If possible, offer specific advice, such as how the ending could be strengthened, where a pause could have been used to heighten the audience’s expectations, when a gesture or movement would have emphasised an important point, etc. Normally, do not offer more than two suggestions.

10. Be encouraging: Always end on a positive note. For example, comment on how enjoyable/interesting the speech was, on the speaker’s particular gift for storytelling/humour/body language or on the overall progress since the previous speech.

11. Address the General Evaluator and return to your seat. Complete and sign the evaluation sheet and return it to the speaker at the end of the meeting.

Acting as Evaluator will help you develop a number of important leadership skills. You can concentrate on one of the following skills each time you evaluate a speech:
– Listening 
– Critical thinking 
– Giving feedback 
– Motivating people



The General Evaluator has an extremely important role. A successful General Evaluator sets high standards for future meetings and helps to raise the educational standards of the Club generally.
It is not possible to prescribe a strict formula for the General Evaluation, but be crisp, clear and concise. The time allowed is not more than 5-7 minutes, as people will be getting anxious to finish the meeting and go home.

1. Contact the Speech Evaluators as soon as you receive the programme details from the VPE and confirm that they will be able to attend.

2. Ensure that the Evaluators are familiar with the objectives of the speeches they are evaluating. Remind them that they should contact the speakers before the meeting to ensure that they are familiar and comfortable with their objectives and to discuss areas on which they would particularly like to have feedback.

3. Impress on the evaluators that if they have to cancel their assignment at short notice, they should attempt to find a replacement for the gap they have created (unless the cancellation is due to serious illness, bereavement etc).

4. Notify the VPE of any evaluators unable to attend.

5. Prepare a checklist of each item on the programme and have notes of the points you consider important for the conduct of a first-class meeting.
6. Be present at 7.45pm. Check that all the evaluators have turned up, in case alternatives have to be found before the meeting starts.

7. While the meeting is in progress, make notes of each aspect of the meeting on which you wish to comment. After the interval, take your place at the top table.

8. When the speeches have been completed, the Toastmaster will stand and pass control of the meeting to you, presenting you with the handle of the gavel. Remain standing while you give a short explanation of the function of the General Evaluator for the benefit of new members and guests.

9. Call on the Timer for the times of the speeches, as the Evaluators need to know these. Remind the Timer to time the Evaluators (2-3 minutes) and also your own general evaluation (5-7 minutes).

10. Call on the Evaluators, giving the name of the speaker and title of the speech each time. Remain standing until the Evaluator has reached the lectern, settled his/her notes and addressed you as ‘Mr/Madam General Evaluator’.

11. Make notes of the method employed by each evaluator, e.g. whether they examined how the objectives were met, were encouraging, had a worthwhile recommendation, finished on a positive note.

12. When the speeches have all been evaluated, ask the Timer for the evaluation times.

13. It is usual to move to the lectern at this stage so that you can consult your notes comfortably when conducting your general evaluation. Your opening remarks may suggest what you seek from a meeting and/or express a broad view of trends in the Club.

14. Call on the Grammarian/Wordmaster and Ah Counter for their reports. Evaluate the evaluators (not the speeches), how the various roles were performed and the general conduct of the meeting. Bearing in mind the goal of doing the job in 5-7 minutes, concentrate on aspects of the meeting that deserve special commendation and aspects that could be improved. There is usually no need to comment on how the banner was displayed or how the room was laid out or to go through every role in detail; a short general remark that everyone on the programme contributed to a business-like, efficient meeting may be sufficient. It is desirable to specially mention people who have carried out a role for the first time, as they will be anxious for feedback.

15. Just as the evaluators should not give a lengthy resumé of the speeches, the General Evaluator should not repeat verbatim what each Evaluator has said. Instead, try something like ‘This evaluator looked at the structure of the speech. He analysed it well and praised all the strong points, and he gave a very valid suggestion on how the ending could be improved….’

16 Your main, detailed remarks should be on the areas of the meeting that you considered either outstanding or below standard. Be honest and constructive in your comments, but be wary of the danger of upsetting people. Instead of pointing out that something was wrong, suggest how it might be improved. Follow each suggestion with a positive comment.

17. Return to the top table and, handing over the gavel, pass control of the meeting back to the Toastmaster before sitting down.

Acting as General Evaluator will help you develop a number of important leadership skills. You can concentrate on one of the following skills each time you are General Evaluator:
– Critical thinking 
– Giving feedback 
– Planning and implementation 
– Facilitation skills 
– Motivating people 
– Team building