The main duties of the Toastmaster are to coordinate and conduct the entire meeting, introduce participants, and act as a genial host. The Toastmaster sets the tone for the meeting. This task is generally reserved for members who are quite familiar with the club and its procedures. Serving as Toastmaster is an excellent way to practice planning, preparation, organization, time management, facilitation, motivation, and team-building skills as you strive to make the meeting one of the club’s best.

The Toastmaster ensures that:

  • All roles are filled and confirmed.
  • Agenda is completed, emailed, and printed for the meeting.
  • Participants are prepared and responsibilities are executed.
  • All elements on the Agenda are executed during the meeting.
  • The meeting follows the Agenda—beginning and ending on time.
  • The meeting is engaging, entertaining, and provides value to the audience with minimal distractions.

This role requires significant planning, preparation, and coordination with other members, beginning early in the week.

During the week prior to Meeting:

Early in week: (Soon after the preceding meeting, Wednesday or Thursday.)

  • Choose a Theme:
  1. Keep it simple and general, something most people can relate to.
  2. Using a Theme is leadership practice—inspiring collaboration through sharing an idea and encouraging others to become involved.
  3. Themes can be inspired by anything—a recent or upcoming event, holiday, something you experienced, or were inspired by—but try to make it general and relevant to your audience.
  4. A Theme helps to set the tone of the meeting, so make it engaging and fun.
  • Notify key functionaries of your Theme early in the week:
  1. Grammarian—so they can choose a Word-of-the-Day related to the Theme
  2. Table Topics Master—so they can write questions about related Topics.
  3. VP of Education (VPE)—so they can update the Agenda on
  4. Be sure the Theme, Word-of-the-Day, Speech Title/Objective, and other information are complete on the Agenda before the meeting.
  5. Follow up to be sure all functionaries have the info they need, and that you have any info that you need from them.
  • Prepare a brief introduction for the Theme:
  1. A few sentences are plenty. There is not enough time to make a speech. A long intro can set the whole meeting off schedule, taking time from other speakers.
  2. Be mindful of other elements that need completion before introducing the first speaker. You only have a few minutes to get the next speaker on stage. (When we meet in person.)
  3. If the meeting starts late, speeches are to be longer than normal, there are many guests, or other elements to fit in, be prepared to introduce the theme with one or two sentences to keep the meeting on schedule.
  • Contact speakers to request their Speech Title and Objective (which is the manual and project).
  • Remind speakers it is their responsibility to enter their speech details on easy-Speak by Saturday preceding the meeting—early enough for the Toastmaster to adjust Agenda. (Be sure this is followed up and notify the VPE if you need help.)

Mid-week: (By Friday or Saturday)

  • Send an email reminder to those who have not confirmed their roles on easy-Speak. Remind those who cannot perform their role to notify you—the Toastmaster—and the VPE as soon as possible to make other arrangements.
  • Verify that participants understand their roles and where to find the most recent updates of Role Descriptions.

The day before the meeting: (Monday)

  • Send out a follow-up message to members letting them know the meeting Theme and Word-of-the-Day. This helps members plan their roles to fit what you have prepared if they so choose.
  • Encourage functionaries to read their role descriptions, prepare, and show up early.
  • Remind members to check easy-Speak to see if any roles are still available.
  • Remind speakers to bring their manuals for evaluation. (When meeting in person.)
  • Contact the V.P. of Education for help to fill roles/contact members/complete the Agenda.
  • Practice your introduction, keeping the Theme intro short.
  • Become familiar with the introductions you need to make before introducing the first speaker on schedule.
  • Acquire a meeting Agenda from the VPE. (When meeting in person, get copies printed on the day of your meeting when you have confirmed all roles and other info.)

Right Before the Meeting:

  • Be sure everyone on the Agenda has arrived early. Be ready to find replacements if someone does not show up or if someone is running late. Be sure replacements have proper information, guide sheets, and other tools before the scheduled starting time.
  • Be sure Functionaries have copies of the Agenda that has been emailed earlier in the week (Esp. Table Topics Master, General Evaluator, Grammarian, Ah-Counter, & Timer—so they know the names of those who they might mention.)
  • When meeting in person, be sure the Sergeant at Arms (SAA) has room properly set up and is ready to start meeting on time.

During the Meeting:

  • Introduce Theme: 1- 2 minutes max.
  • Explain the meeting structure: Briefly outline 3 sections: Speeches, Table Topics, Evaluations—See descriptions below for details.
  • Introduce Functionaries: Timer, Grammarian, Ah-Counter.
  • Introduce Guests: Look for new faces/ask if there are any guests. Ask them to please introduce themselves and share why they are here. Especially note if we have any Toastmasters from other clubs.
  • Introduce Speakers: Remember, if you start the first speaker late, the meeting will run late or you will have to take time from others in order to end on time.

Example Introduction:

Try to use your own words as much as possible to present the following sections.

Introduce Theme:

“Since tomorrow is Groundhog’s Day, today’s theme is Redundancy.” or “Since today is Groundhog’s Day today, our theme is Redundancy.”
If the Groundhog comes out of its hole and sees its own shadow, it may be in California instead of Punksutawney. I would like to encourage everyone to try to use the Theme—and the Word-of-the-Day—as you speak today.”  

Explain Structure:

“The meeting is divided into three parts.

  • Prepared Speeches
  • Table Topics—where we practice our impromptu speaking
  • Evaluations—where we get feedback on what we did well, and what we might improve.”

Introduce Functionaries:

“To help us with feedback today, we have a few special roles. Please stand in place (for in-person meetings) and explain your role as I call on you. First, our Timer is __________.”   Continue with introductions of the Grammarian  & Ah Counter. These can be done in any order, but try to follow the Agenda.

Introduce guests:

(To anyone who is not a registered member of the club.) “I see a couple of new faces. Please introduce yourself and tell us how you found us and what brought you are here today.”

Introduce speakers:

“Our first speaker is _________ and this is their speech number ____ from the _____ manual, entitled _______.”

Section 1: Prepared Speeches

At the start of each speech:

  • Introduce the Speaker, Speech Title, and Objective of the speech (e.g. “Our first speaker is John Doe, with his speech titled “Born Without a Name”.) Sharing the Objective helps the audience understand what they are listening for.
  • OPTIONAL BONUS for Toastmaster: Ask speakers if they have a brief introduction before their speech. Try to make this something that relates to the speech, maybe the meeting Theme.
  • Be ready to go step in as soon as each speaker is done.

At the end of each speech:

  • Request one minute from the Timer immediately after each speech to allow the audience to provide feedback.
  • Introduce the next speaker—or move on to Table Topics after the last speaker.

Section 2: Table Topics

  • Introduce the TopicsMaster. Let them explain their segment.
  • TopicsMaster will turn meeting back to you when they are finished.
  • If TopicsMaster has forgotten anything—such as asking the audience to vote for Best Table Topics Speaker—follow up for them.
  • IMPORTANT: Be aware of time. Help the TopicsMaster know when to stop in order to allow time to wrap up. Reiterate the names of those who spoke and explain rules of voting. Be sure they do all those things as well. When in person, leave enough time to allow you to get up to introduce the General Evaluator by the time stated on the Agenda.

Section 3: Evaluations

  • Introduce the General Evaluator.
    (Typically, you will be passing control of the meeting to the GE until the end of the meeting, unless otherwise planned.)

Time Management:

  • Keep meeting running ahead of the times on the Agenda to ensure that participants are speaking by the time stated on the agenda, or before.
  • Note that the Evaluation portion can take a long time and, if started late, will run overtime or have to be cut off.
  • Learn to be comfortable with speaking up to keep the group on track and ending sections early if needed to keep the meeting running on time.
  • If you want to customize the Agenda for a special meeting, coordinate it with the VPE so times can be adjusted.