The Toastmaster is the meeting’s director and host. You are the person that pulls everything together and in terms of responsibility the buck stops with you – in other words if it needs doing you need to do it or make sure someone else will. If you are unsure of something or need help call on the president to assist you as needed. (The president will generally be in touch with you a week prior to the meeting to offer help but don’t be shy about asking before that if you need assistance.)

At least a week before the meeting go online and check to see which roles have been filled and which are open. Send an e-mail to the entire membership reminding them of the open roles and solicit people to fill the slots. The Friday before the meeting follow up again with a similar note and then again on Tuesday.

You will need to have the prepared speakers spots filled no later than the Friday before the meeting as most people can’t prepare a speech in a couple of days. If you still have speakers spots open you should contact people directly (in particular those who have not spoken in a while).

Begin preparing for your role several days in advance. Request an introduction from each of the prepared speakers — they will write it but remind them to include the manual and speech number, a few sentences about their speech and the title – plus a few words about themselves. Also confirm their speaking time – the standard is 5-7 minutes but advanced speeches will often require more time. Many Toastmasters like to give a 3 minute mini speech as they open their portion of the meeting so prepare that in advance.

Before the meeting, complete the meeting agenda. E-mail a copy to the president for their review and then once finalized e-mail it to the entire membership on the morning of the meeting and print approximately 25 copies which you should bring with you and hand out. You can get sample agendas from prior meetings or there should be a word document online you can use click here. BE SURE to write several time milestones on the agenda — for example prepared speeches should be complete at 7:25pm, table topics by 7:55pm etc. — the exact times will vary by meeting. IMPORTANT make sure to watch and use these milestones to keep the meeting on track – if you get behind take corrective action to speed things up. What you don’t want to do is to allow the earlier part of the meeting to run long and then try to jam the evaluations into a few minutes at the end. The 10 minute break is sacred so if you need to speed things up you can’t take time away from that. If in spite of your best efforts things are running over time you will need to trim Table Topics, and limit speaking time of the evaluators, reports and General Evaluator as a last resort.

As the Toastmaster, you’ll introduce each speaker. Remember to always remain at the podium until the next speaker has arrived. Shake their hand before leaving. Upon completion of their speech walk to the podium shake their hand and say a few quick words about the speech. NOTE: Anticipate the end of their speech and move toward the front of the room so you don’t leave them standing there at the podium. REMEMBER that after each prepared speech you need to give club members about 1-2 minutes to fill out evaluation sheets before proceeding to the next speaker.On meeting day, show up early. You’ll need time to make sure everything is set for a successful meeting and to fill in any empty roles listed on the agenda. The club President will introduce you at which you will deliver a 3-4 minute “opening” speech typically based on a theme that you have chosen which opens the meeting. Next you will introduce the word of the day, speech tip, sales and marketing tip, and prepared speakers. After the prepared speakers have finished, you announce a 10 minute break. Following the break you call the meeting to order and introduce the Table Topics Master. NOTE: Keep an eye on time allotted for table topics and indicate to the TTM how much time they have remaining as they near the end– typically it is easiest to indicate that they have time for one last question. The Table Topics master will hand the meeting back to you at which time you introduce the general evaluator who will now take over the meeting.

The general evaluator will return the meeting to you at which point you deliver a 1-2 minute “closing” speech. During this speech you can thank all of the speakers, reiterate the chosen theme, and comment about any observations. Finally return control to the club president.


General Evaluator

As the General Evaluator you are responsible for facilitating the evaluation portion of the meeting. During this time four main areas are generally covered.
First, you will briefly explain your role and the purpose of the General Evaluator. One main reason for this is to help any guests and newer members understand the purpose and benefits.
Second, you will bring up and briefly introduce the evaluation team which includes the Speech Evaluators, Grammarian and Timer. Prior to the General Evaluation portion of the meeting remind your evaluation team to briefly explain their role for the benefits of any guests.
Third, you will evaluate the evaluators. After each evaluator has provided feedback to their assigned prepared speaker you will then briefly, in about 20–30 seconds, provide feedback on the delivery of the evaluator. Comment on what the evaluator  did well, consider mentioning the evaluation method used, and offer suggestions for improvement. Please refrain from making any suggestions to the assigned prepared speaker as an evaluator has already been assigned for that purpose. Remember to address the evaluator in the 3rd person which includes everybody in the room.
Forth and last, you will provide a general evaluation of the overall meeting. Similar to a speech evaluation, point out what went well during the meeting and also provide feedback on areas that could use improvement as to increase awareness. A few examples for improvement include: Did anyone leaving the lectern empty? Did anyone end a speech with a thank you as opposed to Mr./Madam Toastmaster? Is there any missing information on the agenda such as speech information? When you conclude turn the meeting over back to the Toastmaster. When you take on this role you get credit in your CL (Competent Leadership) manual.



As grammarian your role is helping members improve their grammar and word use. Being the grammarian also provides an exercise in expanding listening skills. You have several responsibilities:

— to introduce a “word of the day” at the beginning of the meeting

— track usage of grammar throughout the meeting

— deliver a report during the evaluation section of the meeting on all speakers’ language usage

Before the meeting, select a “word of the day”. It should be a word that will help members increase their vocabulary – a word that can be incorporated easily into a speech. During the beginning of the meeting when introduced, announce the word of the day, state its part of speech, define it, use it in a sentence and ask that anyone speaking during any part of the meeting use it.

Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone’s word usage. This is done for each speaker – this includes the president’s opening remarks, toastmaster’s opening remarks, tips, prepared speeches, Table Topics Master and speakers. By speaker write down any awkward use or misuse of the language including improper grammar, misused words etc. and in particular pay attention to filler words such as ahs, ums, you knows etc. Also pay attention to “double clutches” where people restate a word.

Later towards the end of the meeting in the evaluation section you will deliver the grammarian’s report. Before you do, briefly explain the role and duties of the grammarian for the benefit of the guests. After that you will deliver the grammarian’s report starting with the first person listed on the agenda. Try to offer the correct usage in every instance of misused words or incorrect pronunciation (instead of merely announcing that something was wrong). Also report on who used the word of the day.



The role of the timer is to ensure that meetings stay on time from start until finish. The timer is responsible for monitoring and recording the time used by each speaker in all segments of the meeting. This includes everything starting with the president’s opening remarks, speech tips etc. all the way through the prepared speeches, table topics and evaluations. You will see times listed on the agenda — use those as your guideline for how long each speaker should be talking. In addition to recording the time used by each speaker you also assist them in keeping on track via use of the green, yellow and red timing paddles.

On meeting day, retrieve the timing equipment from the Sergeant at Arms (the paddles and stopwatch are in the black plastic box). Be sure you understand how to operate the stopwatch and signal devices — if you have any questions ask one of the officers.

During the meeting you can simply record each participant’s time next to their name on the agenda (or whatever is most convenient for you). Towards the end of the meeting during the evaluation section you will be called upon to deliver a timer’s report where you report times for each and every participant. Simply follow the agenda — give each speaker’s name, the time allotted and the time actually used — note that your report should include all members who participated during Table Topics (standard Table Topics time is 1-2 minutes).

Operating the timing paddles:

Every role during the meeting has a time frame given which includes a minimum and minimum completion time.  Display the green signal at the minimum completion time listed on the agenda, next display the yellow signal at the in between time, and finally display the red signal at the maximum time listed. Note that it is not necessary to continuously hold the paddle up — just hold it up until you are reasonably sure that the speaker will have seen it – 5 seconds is generally fine. NOTE: If a speaker goes over their allotted time by more than two minutes, hold the paddle up over your head.

5-7 Minute Speech:

Green: Show at 5 minutes

Yellow: Show at 6 minutes

Red: Show at 7 minutes

3-4 Minute Speech:

Green: Show at 3 minutes

Yellow: Show at 3 minutes 30 seconds

Red: Show at 4 minutes

Table Topics 1-2 Minutes:

Green: Show at 1 minutes

Yellow: Show at 1 minutes 30 seconds

Red: Show at 2 minutes

At the end of the meeting return the stopwatch and timing signal devices to the sergeant at arms.



Feedback is a critical aspect of becoming a better speaker. As you become more experienced you will be called upon to provide feedback to speakers as an evaluator. Preparing and presenting evaluations is an opportunity for you to practice your listening, critical thinking, feedback and motivational skills.

Before the meeting, talk with the speaker you’ve been assigned to evaluate and understand which manual project they will present. Review the project goals and what the speaker hopes to achieve. It is always a good idea to ask if there is anything in particular they want you to look for. For example, someone may be focusing on improving their hand gestures so would ask you to take special note of that.

Review the project objectives as well as the evaluation guide in the manual. Remember, the purpose of evaluation is to help people develop their speaking or leadership skills. By actively listening, providing feedback and offering suggestions for improvement, you motivate members to improve.

When you arrive at the meeting, retrieve the manual from the speaker — you will use it as a guide to help your evaluation. Record your impressions in the manual, along with your answers to the evaluation questions. Many evaluators take the manual with them to the podium to use as notes. Tell the audience what the objective of the speech was and then articulate how the speaker met those objectives. Be as objective as possible. A good rule of thumb is to start the evaluation with all the things that worked well, next discuss areas for improvement and conclude with a summary that focuses on the positive and praises the speaker. Remember that good evaluations encourage members while overly critical evaluations may discourage members who tried their best. Always provide specific methods for improving and present them in a positive manner. Don’t try to cover too much in your talk; three to five points is plenty.

After the meeting, return the manual to the speaker.


Table Topics Master

– The fundamental job of the Table Topics Master to enable people to get up and speak in front of the room on an impromptu basis. The job is to make it easy and do everything you can to give people the opportunity to successfully speak for 1 – 2 minutes.

– Keep it simple.  Pose questions in a simple, straightforward manner. Too frequently people feel the need to be so creative that it intrudes into the question asking. Instead of just posing the question a complex, convoluted situation is posed and the speaker has to try to figure out what is being asked. I’ve seen too many instances where the speaker was confused about what is being asked, they become embarrassed, wind up speaking very briefly then sitting down. This does not further the process or our skills. Pose the question in a direct manner — there are plenty of other areas in which to be creative.

– The quality of the question we ask determines the quality of the answer we get. Think less about how clever your question is and more about what kind of answer it will allow people to give. Ask high quality questions that give people room to run. Remember the purpose is to get people up to speak for 1 – 2 minutes. A poor or narrow question inhibits this.

A key aspect of TM is evaluation and I believe TT is under-evaluated. I would ask that General Evaluators include a review of TT in their evaluation. This should include an evaluation of the clarity with which the questions were posed, the quality of the questions and how long people spoke. A TT session where everyone speaks for 2 minutes is more successful than one where everyone speaks for 30 seconds.

Upon coming into the room TT Masters should take note of the agenda and who is in the meeting then writing down who they will call on and which questions they will ask of each person. This removes pressure once you are up there and makes things more organized. To the extent possible we should not ask for volunteers and instead call on people. Two reasons: TM states this is how it should be done and the better speakers volunteer – meaning less experienced people stay less experienced.

If we follow these guidelines three benefits will accrue to the club:

  • We will become better impromptu speakers
  • It will be easier to participate and to succeed
  • TT will be much more fun and relaxed