Roles/Responsibilities of Meeting Participants:

When You Are the Toastmaster of the Day

You will gain experience coordinating and running a business meeting or technical conference. Here are some suggestions and a sample agenda. 

Since our members are subject to unexpected business commitments at the last minute, you can adjust the meeting format in any way that meets the need. You can also assign tasks to any member present in order to fill all the jobs. 

Hint: You are in charge! It is YOUR meeting. You can rearrange the agenda, try something different, etc. 


Reminders and introductions: Contact each participant ahead of time to remind them of their assignments and to gather introductory material. Your ability to give a professional introduction of participants will impress your speakers and your audience.

Speaker information: Ask speakers to give you their manual and speech number, objectives, title, and requested time. Be alert for advanced speeches that require more time.

Evaluators: Let evaluators know whom and which manual speech they will be evaluating. Also give this information to the General Evaluator.

Theme/Word of the Day: (Optional) Choose theme and/or word of the day.  A Theme for the Day provides a framework for introductory remarks for each participant (e.g., for a Christmas theme, you may introduce each participant by mentioning what they will be doing for Christmas). A meeting in the "real world" would already have a theme.

A Word of the Day should be a word that will help us increase our vocabulary -- a word that can easily be incorporated into everyday conversation but which is different from the way we usually express ourselves. An adjective or adverb is suggested. This activity challenges each speaker to alter his or her prepared remarks to incorporate an idea from a previous speaker.

Timer: Just before the meeting, notify the Timer of each speaker's requested time.


Agenda: Write the names of Speakers, Evaluators, etc., on a board or easel, or pass out a printed meeting agenda.  If a meeting participant does not arrive, assign someone else at the beginning of the meeting.  Remember -- you are in charge; if members are shy about volunteering, then assign the role to someone.

Introducing speakers: When introducing a speaker, mention the manual and speech #, speech objective, speech title and target duration (e.g., James is giving speech #1 from the Communication and Leadership Program, The Ice Breaker, which is a 4-6 minute speech, and his speech is titled "All About Me").

Shaking Hands: Whenever transferring the meeting to a speaker, evaluator, etc., hand the meeting off with a handshake. Allow the participant to pass in front of you (not behind you) as they take the floor. When they are done, they should return the meeting to you with a handshake, allowing you to pass in front of them. In other words, the person taking the floor moves to the front and is closest to the audience. This clarifies who is in charge at any given moment.

Clapping: After making an introduction, you start the clapping and keep it up until the participant has reached the front of the room and has shaken your hand. Clapping is for welcoming and thanking the participant. You set the supportive tone!

Time: Part of your job is make sure we start at 7:30pm and end at 9:00pm. Ways to adjust the overall meeting time include limiting the number of Table Topics, asking the Table Topics Master, Grammarian, AH Counter, and General Evaluator to be brief, and abbreviating your own introductory remarks. Typically, if the Table Topics end before 8:00pm, the meeting will end on time.

Guests: If guests or new members are present, please briefly explain the purpose of each participant as part of their introduction. For example, "the purpose of the evaluator is to give the speaker immediate feedback and to give the evaluator training in critical listening and impromptu speaking."

Word of the day: If you are using a word-of-the-day, explain that speakers should try to use this word during the meeting.

Sample Meeting Agenda

7:30pm President (or presiding officer)

  • Call to order
  • Pledge of Allegiance
  • Welcome guests
  • Introduce Toastmaster of the Day

7:40pm Toastmaster

  • Introductory remarks
  • Verify agenda (fill any missing roles)
  • Word and/or theme of the day (optional)
  • Introduce Table topics Master

7:45pm Table Topics Master

  • Call upon members and participating guest for Table Topics
  • Timekeeper's report (Brief.)
  • Voting for best Table Topic Speaker

8:00pm Break

8:10pm Toastmaster

  • Introduce Speaker 1
  • Speaker 1
  • (one minute for audience to complete evaluation forms)
  • Introduce Speaker 2
  • Speaker 2
  • (one minute for audience to complete evaluation forms)
  • Introduce Speaker 3
  • Speaker 3
  • Timekeeper's report (Brief.)
  • Evaluator 1
  • Evaluator 2
  • Evaluator 3


  • Ah Counter
  • Grammarian
  • Club Listener
  • Jokmaster
  • General Evaluator

8:55pm President (or presiding club officer): Announcements

9:00pm Adjourn


Make sure that the Vice President Education knows who spoke during your meeting and which manual speeches they gave.

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When You Are a Speaker

Preparation is essential to success. Every speech should be well-prepared and rehearsed to ensure quality. Remember, club members learn from one another's speeches. Every speaker is a role model.


Contact your evaluator ahead of time to inform him or her which manual speech you will be giving. Discuss your speech goals (both those in the manual and your personal goals) and any concerns you may have.

Remember to bring your manual to the meeting so that your evaluator can fill in the Evaluation Guide for your speech.

Give the Toastmaster of the Day an introduction, including the following information:

  • Name of manual, speech number, speech name.
  • Speech title.
  • Requested time.
  • Formal speech objectives.
  • Your personal speech objectives.
  • Anything else you want your audience to know.

Get in the habit of writing your own introduction. This is a useful thing to do for any conference or meeting you attend at work or on the outside in which you will be introduced by someone else.

Example 1:

Today Molly Brown will be giving manual speech #3, "Organize Your Speech." The time is 5-7 minutes and her title is "Backpacking in the Hetch Hetchy Valley." The objectives are (1) organize your thoughts into a logical sequence and (2) have a clear opening, body and conclusion. Molly would also like you to check for nervous mannerisms and whether she establishes eye contact with the entire room.

Example 2:

Today Molly Brown will be giving Speech #1, "The Technical Briefing," from the Advanced Manual on Technical Presentations. The title is "Clean Water--What Happens When You Turn On the Tap?" and the time is 8-10 minutes. The objectives are (1) using a systematic approach, organize technical material into a concise presentation and (2) tailor the presentation to the audience's needs, interests, and knowledge levels. Molly will be giving this speech to an audience of high school girls interested in environmental engineering. Please pretend you are a high school science class and judge Molly's content based on that knowledge level. Molly would also like to know whether she engages your enthusiasm and interest, and how to do this better for high school students.


Arrive early to make sure the room and any equipment you will be using are ready. Take a seat near the front of the room. Before the meeting starts, give your manual to your evaluator.

After you are introduced, take control of the meeting by shaking hands with the Toastmaster of the Day. As you begin your speech, acknowledge the Toastmaster and the audience.

Plan your speech closing as carefully as your opening; it's the finishing touch that will bring on the applause. Wait for the Toastmaster of the Day at the lectern, shake hands to return control of the meeting, and return to your seat.

During the evaluation of your speech, listen intently for helpful hints that will assist in building better future talks.


Get your manual from your evaluator, and discuss any questions you may have concerning your evaluation.

Have the Vice President Education (or the senior officer present) initial the Record of Assignments in the back of your manual.

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When You Are an Evaluator

You will give an oral evaluation of a speech during the meeting and a written evaluation in the speaker's manual. The purpose of the evaluation is to help the speaker become less self-conscious. This requires that you become fully aware of the speaker's skill level, habits and mannerisms as well as his or her progress to date. If there is a technique the speaker uses or some gesture made that receives a good response from the audience, tell the speaker so he or she will be encouraged to use it again.


Review the Effective Speech Evaluation manual.

Talk with the speaker to find out which manual project she or he will be presenting. Discuss the speaker's goals. Study the objectives of the project and the evaluation guide in the manual. Good preparation will allow you to give a more effective evaluation.


Get the speaker's manual so that you can fill out the Evaluation Guide.

Here are some key points from the Art of Effective Evaluation Workshop, one of a series of Leadership Workshops made available to us through Toastmasters International.

Evaluations are the key to how we improve as speakers. Feedback lets us know how we are improving and gives us ideas for changing our behavior. Each speech iterates this cycle.

The evaluator has three roles.

  1. Motivator. Fuel the speaker's desire for improvement. Encourage and inspire the speaker.
  2. Facilitator. Show the speaker how to improve. (Don't criticize.)
  3. Counselor. When evaluating someone who fears speaking, do whatever it takes to get that person back for his or her next speech!

Self-esteem is the key to personal growth. Self-esteem is how we feel about ourselves. We all need affirmation that we are doing well every time we try a new activity (such as public speaking). The Toastmasters program should build and protect self-esteem. Evaluators should be genuine, recognize strengths, recognize improvement, motivate, avoid value judgments, provide positive direction/suggestions, and avoid white-washing.

Ten behaviors of an effective evaluator are:

  1. Show that you care. (Be sincere. Do not white wash).
  2. Suit your evaluation to the speaker (e.g. their level of experience and personal style).
  3. Learn the speaker's objectives (easy! ask them!)
  4. Listen actively. (Be alert. Get inside their head. Listen with your eyes. Match content with delivery).
  5. Personalize your language. (e.g., "I think," "This is the effect your speech had on me")
  6. Give positive reinforcement. (Avoid hollow flattery. Reinforcing strengths is very powerful! Builds self-esteem.)
  7. Help the speaker become motivated. (Recognize potential. Focus on what they did well that met speech objectives).
  8. Evaluate the behavior--not the person.
  9. Nourish self-esteem. (End evaluation on a positive note. Recognize strengths).
  10. Show the speaker how to improve. (Give examples of how to do better. Try to give two to three suggestions and examples).


Return the manual to the speaker. (You may wish to borrow it for a day to fill in the evaluation form more fully. This is between you and the speaker.)

Add a verbal word of encouragement to the speaker.

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When You Are Table Topics Master

You run the part of the meeting that allows unscheduled audience members to participate. Optimally, everyone present should have an opportunity to speak during a meeting. The Table Topics master prepares and issues the topics. Each speaker may be given an individual subject, or a choice of subjects may be presented from which the members can draw at random. Check with the Toastmaster of the Day ahead of time to find out if the meeting will have a theme. If so, prepare topics around that theme.

Here is your chance to be creative! You can have us rise to any challenge you care to present. Please remind the participants to practice "mini-speeches" that have an opening, body and conclusion. Remind the participants that Table Topics is simply an exercise in thinking on your feet -- it does not matter what you say -- what matters is that you stood in front of a group and spoke. Suggestion: you can have us focus on particular speaking skills, e.g., gestures, in order to use Table Topics as a skill-building workshop. Also remind participants that their goal is to speak until the green timing light comes on. Finally, they do not have to address the topic--going off on a tangent is fine as long as the result is a mini-speech with opening, body and conclusion.

As Table Topics Master, you get to be flexible! We vary the number of Table Topics in order to ensure that the meeting ends on time. It is always a good idea to have a few extra ideas just in case -- try to think of ten ideas.

Maximum number of Table Topics: Everyone in the room who is not otherwise on the agenda speaks (this could be quite a number of people, say, up to ten if one of the speakers does not show up. The average number seems to be five). It is wonderful when everyone seated in the room has a chance to stand in front.

Minimum number of Table Topics: About three.

It's a good idea to end the Table Topics part of the meeting by about 12:45pm. You can ask the Toastmaster of the Day to tell you "just one more" or "just two more." The Toastmaster is keeping track of the time (and can ask the Grammarian and General Evaluator to be brief). You can also turn and ask the Toastmaster if there is time for one or two more while you are up front.

Other things to think about:

- You can give more people an opportunity to participate if you keep your own remarks brief. You do not have to say very much when introducing each topic.

- State the topic twice, then call on a person by name. That way, everyone has to think about what they might say if called upon. Go ahead and make everyone sweat!

- Try to decide whom to call on ahead of time. Look around the room before the meeting starts to figure out who is not already on the agenda. This way you don't make the mistake of calling on someone who is already on the agenda. If you are not sure of a name, ask the person. You may also ask guests if they want to participate. Also, if you can't call on everyone, try to pick the newest members first.

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When You Are the AH Counter

Like the Grammarian, the primary purpose of the Ah Counter is to teach you to listen! Note words and sounds used as a "crutch" or "pause filler" by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Words may be inappropriate interjections such as "and," "well," "but," "so," or "you know." Sounds may be "ah," "um," or "er." You may also note when a speaker repeats a word or phrase such as "I, I."

You do not need to use a predefined list of types of Ahs, but you may use one if you wish. You may choose to do anything from simply counting the number of ahs and ums to counting all types of verbal crutches. The idea is to encourage speakers to pause to think silently rather than filling the time with an "Ah."

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When You Are the Grammarian

Like the Ah Counter, the primary purpose of the Grammarian is to teach you to listen! You do not need to be an expert--what you do need is the heightened awareness of language that comes from critically examining the use of language throughout a meeting. You have the opportunity to listen for (1) errors or awkwardness and (2) examples of excellence (e.g., well-stated metaphors, correct use of the Word of the Day, descriptive language). Try to offer the correct usage in every instance where there was a misuse instead of only explaining what was wrong. The scope of this job is up to you; you may confine your remarks to the prepared speakers or comment on everyone's use of language.

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When You Are the Club Listener

Like the Grammarian and Ah Counter, the primary purpose of the Listener is to teach you to listen- but with the listener role, everybody is encouraged to listen! The listener keeps track of key ideas, facts, or points during the speeches, and also during the evaluations, table topics, or even education modules. The listener will then quiz participants to answer questions. For example, the listener might ask, "what did the speaker like most about their mother-in-law" if something was mentioned by the speaker in that regard. There is little you can do to prepare for this role; you will need to think quickly during the meeting to come up with questions.

The listener should expect to moderate an interactive report. Questions must be phrased and stated clearly, with answers from participants accepted graciously and harmoniously, even when the atmosphere becomes lively, as often happens. Some may be reluctant to answer; gently encourage as much participation as possible while avoiding embarrassing anybody. You may also need to gently quiet louder, more dominant types with most of the answers. Use, "let's see who else was listening," or something equally polite but clear. You may have to give people hints if you were listening better than everybody else or your questions are very detailed. Above all, this role can be FUN!

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When You Are the Jokemaster

Even though teaching you to perform stand-up comedy is not among Toastmasters' goals, we do enjoy good jokes, and would like to provide the opportunity to our members to practice their joke-telling skills. Please remember the following guidelines:

  • Keep it short, preferably under a minute. Remember, this is a joke, not a humorous speech!
  • Make sure your joke is in good taste. Avoid racial, sexist, or profane material.

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When You Are the General Evaluator

You are in luck! This is your opportunity to learn about overall meeting structure and effectiveness, as well as techniques in speech evaluation. You have to stay on your toes throughout the meeting--a great way to learn. Please evaluate the effectiveness of the following participants in this order of priority: (1) the Evaluators, (2) the Toastmaster, (3) the Table Topics Master, (4) Grammarian and Ah Counter.


Talk to the Evaluators, Grammarian and Ah Counter to discuss their responsibilities. Emphasize that the goal of evaluation is to help fellow Toastmasters develop their skills in a positive, helpful way; the self-esteem of the speakers should be preserved or enhanced.

Suggest each Evaluator talk to his or her speaker to discuss any special evaluation requirements.


Make sure that the Evaluators have their speakers' manuals and understand the project objectives.

Sit near the back of the room to allow yourself full view of the meeting and its participants.

Take notes. Look for good and unacceptable examples of preparation, organization, delivery, enthusiasm, observation, and general performance of duties. Remember, you are not to reevaluate the speakers, though you may wish to add something that the evaluator may have missed.

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Scott Marcus, a fellow Toastmaster, has developed a public speaking manual and made it available to toastmasters. It can be accesses by logging on to Scott's web page.

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