Tips on Meeting Roles

At each meeting of Willetton Toastmasters, the following roles are assigned to a member:

Sergeant-at-Arms

  • Prepare room for meeting – (set up tables and chairs, display banner, Progress Charts, materials catalogue, lectern, lights, overhead projector etc)
  • Open the meeting
  • Welcome Visitors
  • Arrange adequate supplies of materials (Name Badges, Display Charts, etc).

Toastmaster

The Toastmaster is the host for the day, responsible for ensuring that the meeting runs smoothly and to plan. The role of Toastmaster for a meeting is a major role and requires preparation.

Before the Meeting

The Vice-President Education will provide the Toastmaster with a proposed agenda. The Toastmaster is responsible for checking with members to ensure they are attending and liaising with the VPE to organise a replacement if anyone can’t make it. Consider each of the following:

  • If you are going to have a “Theme” for the meeting, email all attendees and let them know what the theme is early in the week.
  • For each of the Speakers, you’ll need to know the Speech Title, which speech they are doing and which manual they are working from.

Here’s a helpful checklist for the Toastmaster:

  • Arrive early at the meeting (settle nerves, to allow last minute adjustments to program).
  • Make sure you know if there are any guests and welcome them by name (If not already welcomed by Sgt at Arms).
  • Explain roles of all activities for the benefit of visitors, new members.
  • Introduce all participants with enthusiasm.
  • Remember to call for the evaluators to read the objectives of all speeches.
  • Set the tone of the meeting, and keep proceedings on time.
  • Undertake the link between the various activities.
  • Lead applause; shake hands at the beginning and end of the activities.

Grammarian & Highlights

The Highlights are placed at the end of the prepared speeches before the Evaluation of the Evaluators. The time is usually in the range of 2 or 3 minutes. The intention is to review the meeting by selecting notable phrases or expressions or even activities. Select one such phrase, expression or activity and nominate that as your personal highlight or phrase of the night. Announce that at the end of your presentation. Look for any bad grammar during the meeting. Practise effective communication skills. Think about your stance, eye contact as you look around at the audience, vocal variety and gestures.

Inspiration

Purpose of role: The Inspiration is the first scheduled speaking role of the meeting. It is intended to wake the other members up and get the meeting started. The Inspiration is a two minute speech. It can be about any topic at all that you would like to use. Some past topics have included:

  • Response to a current event (eg: a member gave an impassioned criticism of election advertising)
  • Your favourite TV show (eg: why is the Simpsons so good?)
  • An introduction to one of your hobbies (eg: one member is into genealogy and spoke about his family tree)
  • What’s the best thing about Canning Vale?
  • Tell us about a book you’ve read recently.
  • Why did you join Toastmasters?

Basically, it can be anything at all. The content of the Inspiration speech does not have to be inspiring. Some members think it is a pep talk or a sales job.

Table Topics Master

“Table Topics” is a definitive Toastmaster experience. The Table Topics Master (TTM) prepares a number of questions. The TTM asks the question, and then at the end of the question, once everyone has heard it, the TTM will name one of the members in the room to answer the question. This is a chance for the respondent to practice their impromptu speaking skills. They need to stand up and reply to the question, speaking for 60 to 90 seconds. The Table Topic Master should:

  • Lead the Impromptu Speaking Session
  • Prepare 6 to 8 Questions in ADVANCE, List them, and prepare so that you do not have to read the Questions out.
  • Make your intro and length of Question as short as possible – this time is for the Responders NOT for the TTM
  • Check who present are NOT rostered on the Agenda – the aim is to give a go to any attendees who do not have another role
  • Explain the TTM process to any Visitors and ask them if they would like to participate – DO NOT pressure them
  • Ask Question, THEN call out the person’s name – must maintain as much suspense and surprise as is possible
  • Move away from the centre stage to give the responders the focus
  • Watch the Time Keeper for signal of completed time
  • Hand back to the Toastmaster

The choice of the topics is up to you. You may want to choose a theme and have all the questions fit inside that theme somehow. An example, if you had “holidays”, then some questions might be:

  1. Where are you planning to go on your next holiday?
  2. What was the most memorable holiday?
  3. Where would you go in WA for a two week vacation?
  4. What is the worst holiday you ever had?

Remember that the aim is to give people a chance to get up and speak. You shouldn’t set out to really stump participants, particularly newer members.

Tonic

  • A speaking opportunity with a more light hearted and humorous focus
  • Careful to choose material that is in keeping to a broad audience (No Smut, and be careful of Sexist and Religious, Racist material)
  • Prepare – Stand Up and Deliver
  • Hand back to the Toastmaster

Evaluator

After each speaking opportunity, the speaker is evaluated. Another member will give a brief response, providing feedback on the way the speech was delivered. In Toastmasters, we use a “CRC” method for evaluations. That is:

  • Commend
  • Recommend
  • Commend

The Evaluator should commend the speaker, point out some things that they did very well. Then they should provide a recommendation, something the speaker can improve on in the future. Finally, they should finish on a positive note, with a commendation. Recommendations are tricky. Even a good speaker needs to improve further, so feedback and tips are needed. However, the recommendation should not be a list of things the speaker did wrong. Give specific tips on how to improve. As a general rule, commendations should be addressed to the audience as a whole. For example, “Jack told us a wonderful story, with terrific imagery”. Recommendations should be addressed to the speaker directly. For example, “Jack, I thought you had a very fast speaking speed. Perhaps concentrate on consciously pausing after each sentence?” Remember that we want the speaker to be given enough feedback to improve but also motivated to keep coming back. Some tips for the evaluator:

  • Our objective is twofold: to help the speaker improve, but most importantly to encourage the speaker to keep speaking in the future.
  • You are offering your own point of view only. Don’t try to represent your view as that of all participants.
  • A recommendation should not just point out what was done wrong, but also suggest tips on how to improve. For instance, you might say “you had lots of umms. Try slowing down and if you feel an umm coming on, pause instead”.
  • Before the meeting, talk to the speaker on the Objectives, Evaluation Guidelines, and anything they might want you to specifically watch out for.
  • Evaluate the Speech – not the person or the opinions expressed in the speech.
  • Always remember to finish on a positive. We want the speaker to come back and keep trying to get better.

Timer

The timer assists the Toastmaster by letting speakers know when their allotted time is up. The timer provides feedback to all speakers comparing their actual time with their allotted time. Lessons from a First Time Timer:

  • If this is your first time as a timer, ensure that you arrive ten minutes early. Bring a note pad and a couple of working pens.
  • You will need the timing box and a stopwatch, which are supplied by the club, but you’ll have to see the Toastmaster or Sergeant-at-Arms before the meeting starts to find them!
  • The timing box has three switches and a red button:
    1. The switches control the lights. There is one silver switch under each of the colours: .green, orange and red.
    2. The times when each colour should be triggered are on the agenda. Red indicates time is up.
    3. The red button triggers a loud buzzer. This should be used when the speaker has exceeded their time by 30 seconds.
  • You can record the actual times elapsed on the agenda next to the speakers names.
  • After each speaker, make sure you turn all the lights off.
  • You need to record the individual times for each of the table topics as well as the total time elapsed. You may want to use your own watch for the total time elapsed and the stop watch for the individuals. You have two minutes to present the timing report. This doesn’t leave much time for elaboration, so be prepared and ready to start as soon as you are introduced.

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