Roles at meetings

General note: if you choose to take a role, but life gets in the way, please let the Toastmaster of the Evening know as soon as possible! It really helps making organizing these meetings much easier!

Toastmaster of the Evening (TME)

Taking on this role improves organization, time management and public speaking skills.

The Toastmaster is the meeting’s director and host. A member typically will not be assigned this role until they are thoroughly familiar with the club and its procedures. As Toastmaster, you: 

  • Acquire a meeting agenda from your vice president of education.
    • Work with the General Evaluator to ensure all club participants know their roles and responsibilities.
    • Introduce speakers during the club meeting, including their speech topic, project title, objectives, delivery time, etc. during your introduction. 
    • Ensure smooth transitions between speakers during the club meeting.

Resources: Toastmaster Script and Log

The primary duty of the TME is to act as a genial host, introducing speakers in a way that elicits the attentive receptivity of the audience.

Before the meeting

Most important! You are responsible for ensuring that roles for the meeting are filled and confirmed.

You will see that as TME you are the “Meeting Manager”. This means that you have full rights to edit the agenda of the meeting, as well as to allocate speech slots and all roles, in case a confirmed speaker or functionary cannot attend.
If you need help navigating easy-Speak as the Meeting Manager, call the President, VPE, or VP of Membership, or another member you know has experience with easy-Speak. (It’s a great tool, but not always entirely intuitive.)

You may use easy-Speak to allocate roles, and then you should ensure that all program participants confirm their roles. In case of delay or doubt, please email or call members. Write or call to confirm last-minute assignments.

It is common in an international club for work and other obligations to preclude attendance at the last minute. If a prepared speaker or other participant drops out at the last minute, ask the person in the “Hot Seat” to replace them. If more than one person drops out, approach other members in advance of the meeting.

At exceptional meetings when attendance is very low, around 10 people, feel free to omit minor roles (such as Listener or Grammarian), and opt instead to allot more time to Table Topics, for example.

Ask the speakers if they need the flipchart or the beamer. Inform the Sergeant at Arms (SAA) 3 days before the meeting

Print the agenda from easy-Speak on the day of the meeting and distribute it at the meeting. (approx. 30 copies–verify number of attendees in easy-Speak and add extra for guests).

Arrive no later than 20 minutes before the meeting to distribute agendas and discuss roles with participants

Upon Arrival at the Meeting
  • Verify that the room is arranged according to speaker/other needs
  • Distribute an agenda to each place-setting
  • Verify that all functionaries are present and that equipment is in working order (e.g., timing device, beamer).
During the meeting
  • After the President opens the meeting, keep the schedule flowing according to the times listed in the agenda
  • On rare occasions when no officer is present to preside at the meeting, invite the guests to stand and introduce themselves
  • Give a brief (1″) overview of the evening program, including any special theme (debate, contest, speech marathon, etc.)
  • Inform participants of any unprinted, last-minute amendments to the program
  • Use appropriate salutations/titles for all functionaries, including speech evaluators
  • The TME introduces the prepared speaker. The TME will announce the objectives of the speech, call the speaker on stage, say the title of the speech, repeat the title of the speech and say one more time the name of the speaker.
  • When the prepared speaker is finished, stand to shake his/her hand and ask the timer for one-and-a-half minutes (1.5 mins) for club evaluations.
  • Repeat for the next speaker.
  • After all the speakers have finished, ask the Timer if they all kept to their times, to verify that nobody was disqualified.
  • Everyone who adhered to his speech time frame is eligible to be voted as “Best Speaker”. Note! This applies, regardless of the number of speakers who qualify.
  • Ask everyone to cast their ballots for the “Best Speaker”. If only one speaker qualifies, they will by default become the “Best Speaker”.
  • Invite the Jokemaster to tell a joke while people vote for “Best Speaker”
  • Break for dinner – we always want our dinner breaks to be a minimum length of 30 minutes so that all participants can enjoy their food.
  • Resume the meeting, inviting the Speech Evaluators to give their assessments.
  • After the last Speech Evaluation, ask the Timer if all the Speech Evaluators were on time, to verify that nobody was disqualified.
  • Those who adhered to the evaluation time frame qualify to be voted as “Best Evaluator”. Note! This applies, regardless of the number of evaluators who qualify.
  • Ask everyone to cast their ballots for “Best Evaluator”.
  • Adjust other meeting segments (Table Topics, for example) as required to ensure the meeting ends on time, keeping attendees and the Timer up to date with any unforeseen changes
  • Once the GE has finished his/her evaluation, introduce the Jokemaster, if applicable. When the Jokemaster is finished, make your final remark and turn the remainder of the meeting over to the President
  • On rare occasions when no officer is present to serve in the President’s role: invite the guests to stand and share their observations; address necessary club business; close the meeting.
After the Meeting

At home again, enter the winners – Best Speaker, Evaluator, Table Topic Speaker – into the easy-Speak agenda page, and close the meeting.

The General Evaluator is responsible for providing feedback on the entire meeting, however the main focus of the feedback is on the evaluators. Feedback may examine administrative and organizational issues not addressed in any other forum.

General Evaluator (GE)

Taking on this role improves critical thinking, organization, time management, motivational and team-building skills.

The General Evaluator evaluates everything that takes place during the club meeting. In addition, the General Evaluator conducts the evaluation portion of the meeting and is responsible for the evaluation team: the speech evaluators, Ah Counter, grammarian and timer. As General Evaluator, you: 

  • Ensure other evaluators know their tasks and responsibilities.
  • Explain the purpose and benefits of evaluations to the group.
  • Identify and confirm meeting assignments with the timer, grammarian and Ah-Counter.
  • Confirm the club meeting program and/or checklist with the Toastmaster.
  • During the meeting, take notes and report on all club proceedings to evaluate things such as timeliness, enthusiasm, preparation, organization, performance of duties, etc.

Resources: General Evaluator Checklist

Before the Meeting
  • Assist the TME in filling the evaluator roles. Contact all speech evaluators and other evaluation team members (Ah and Vote Counter, Grammarian, Timer) well in advance of the meeting. Ensure that they understand their responsibilities. 
  • Prepare a brief explanation of your duties and a list of your team members, so you can call on them when required.
Upon Arrival at the Meeting
  • Meet briefly with each functionary to ensure they are prepared for their roles.
  • Confirm that the timer is comfortable with the timing device and knows the time-limits for each part of the meeting and each speaker.
  • Make sure that each evaluator has the speaker’s manual and knows how to evaluate the speech and how to introduce the respective speaker.
  • Note how well the venue is prepared and if the meeting begins on time
During the Meeting
  • Observe the meeting carefully and record your observations – include positive opinions and any recommended areas for improvement.
  • When called on by the TME, stand at the front and invite your team up one at a time (Ah & Vote Counter, Grammarian and Timer) to give their reports. After they are finished, give your report, in which you may include the following:
  • Feedback to each evaluator : did they offer relevant praise and useful feedback?
  • Flow and general conduct of the meeting (e.g. Opened on time? Were program changes clear?)
  • Various functionary roles and reports (e.g. Did the Timer maintain control; did the Grammarian make useful comments on relevant grammatical issues?)
  • TME and Sergeant at Arms
  • Table Topics (e.g. creativity, involvement of all who have not had a chance to speak, including guests if they choose)
  • Other general comments
  • Hand back the stage to the TME


Taking on this role improves critical thinking, confidence and public speaking skills.

Every speaker is a role model, and club members learn from one another’s speeches. As a meeting speaker, you: 

  • Prepare, rehearse and present a speech during the club meeting.
  • Arrive early to make sure the microphone, lectern and lighting are working and in place.
  • Discuss your goals, strengths and weaknesses with your evaluator before giving your speech.

A major portion of each meeting is centred around three or more Prepared Speakers. Speeches typically last from five to seven minutes and their preparation is essential.

To prepare the speech, the speaker follows the assignments on her/his path. Consult your base camp in Toastmasters International.


Taking on this role improves active listening, critical thinking and positive feedback skills.

Evaluation is the heart of the Toastmasters educational program. You observe the speeches and leadership roles of your fellow club members and offer evaluations of their efforts, and they do the same for you. As evaluator, you:

  • Ask those you’ve been assigned to evaluate what they will present and what they wish to achieve.
  • Provide objective verbal and written evaluations for speakers.
  • When giving any evaluation, offer praise as well as constructive criticism.

A speaker receives an evaluation after every prepared speech. The importance and value of evaluations cannot be understated. The evaluation you offer could make the difference between a worthwhile and a wasted speech for the speaker. In addition to your oral feedback, you will also present the speaker with a written evaluation – ask your speaker for the evaluation form.

Evaluations help speakers improve, and are at the core of the Toastmasters program. Without them, speakers may not develop as quickly. An evaluator is required to be aware of the speaker’s progress to date, skill level, habits, and mannerisms. If the speaker employs a technique or gesture that elicits a positive response from the audience, tell him/her, so he/she will be encouraged to use it again.

Evaluations are also an additional opportunity to strengthen our own speaking skills.

Before the Meeting
  • Evaluation requires careful preparation if the speaker is to benefit. Remember, the purpose is to help people develop skills in various situations, including formal speeches, discussions and meetings.
  • Talk with the speaker to find out which project she/he is presenting. Be aware about the project objectives.
  • Ask the speaker if she/he has any personal objectives.
Upon Arrival at the Meeting
  • Talk to the General Evaluator to confirm the evaluation session format.
During the Meeting
  • Record your impressions and answers to the evaluation questions in the manual.
  • When introduced, stand and give your evaluation. Be as objective as possible. Good evaluations may give new life to discouraged members and poor evaluations can dishearten members who tried their best.
  • Always provide the speaker with methods for improving. For every criticism, you should offer a specific suggestion for improvement. Focus on two to three suggestions at most.
  • Try to begin and end with a note of encouragement or praise.
  • Don’t read out lengthy written comments. Your time is limited, so highlight the most important points. The oral evaluation is partly for the benefit of all meeting attendees.
  • Praise successful elements of the speech, and explain why they were successful. Provide feedback about aspects of the speech that were impressive and contributed to the overall success, such as gestures, humour and personal stories.
  • Be honest and candid about perceived faults or distracting mannerisms.
  • Be supportive of your speaker.

Table Topic Master

Taking on this role improves organization skills, time management and facilitation skills.

The Table Topics Master (TTM) delivers the Table Topics® portion of the meeting, which helps train members to quickly organize and express their thoughts in an impromptu setting. As Topicsmaster, you: 

  • Select topics in advance of the meeting that allow speakers to offer opinions.
  • Give members who aren’t assigned a speaking role the opportunity to speak during the meeting by assigning impromptu talks on non-specialized themes or topics.
  • Don’t ask two people the same thing unless you specify that it is to generate opposing viewpoints.
  • In clubs presenting a Best Table Topics speaker award, ask members to vote for the best Table Topics speaker.

Table Topics speakers have one to two minutes to answer the question put to them by the Topicsmaster. The Topicsmaster prepares and issues the topics; originality is desirable.  Each speaker may be given an individual subject or a choice of subjects may be presented from which the speaker can draw at random.

Resources: Topicsmaster Script and Log

Before the meeting
  • Find out who will have a large speaking role at the meeting (TME, GE, Evaluators, Grammarian) so you can call on others first.
  • When choosing your questions, select those that will inspire the speakers to expand on them, give their opinions, etc. Don’t make the questions too long or complicated. Phrase them in such a way that the speaker can clearly understand what you want them to talk about.
  • Keep your comments short. Your job is to give others a chance to speak, not to give a series of mini-speeches yourself.
  • Remember that Table Topics have two purposes: (1), to give everyone a chance to speak, especially those who do not have a role, and (2), to train people to speak extemporaneously.
Upon Arrival at the meeting
  • Be certain that the Timer knows the timing protocols for this part of the meeting. After the two-minute limit is reached, the speaker is afforded a grace period of 30 seconds to finish.
During the meeting
  • Before launching into the Table Topics questions, briefly state the purpose of the Table Topics session and how it is conducted.
  • Remind the audience that pausing at the front for 10–30 seconds before beginning a response is not only acceptable, but encouraged, to allow them to formulate a coherent statement. It is common Table Topics contest practice.
  • Set the scene for your Table Topics program. Keep your remarks brief but enthusiastic. Encourage the speakers to use the “Word of the Day”.
  • Keep the program rolling. Be certain everyone understands the maximum time they have for their response.
  • State the question briefly, before calling on a respondent. This serves two purposes: (1) it holds everyone’s attention as each one is thinking of a response in case they are called upon, and (2) it adds to the value of the impromptu element by giving everyone an opportunity to improve their listening and thinking skills.
  • Call on speakers at random. Avoid going around the room in order. Give each participant a different question. Don’t ask two people the same thing unless you ask each specifically to give the ‘pro’ or ‘con’ side. (Or unless you are approaching it as a Table Topics contest practice session.)
  • Watch your total time frame. Check the printed agenda for the total time allotted to Table Topics and adjust the number of questions to end your session on time. Even if your session started late, adjust the number of questions so that the meeting is back on schedule.
  • Only if time permits at the end of the session should you call on members with meeting roles.
  • At the end of the session, ask the timer to report on those eligible for the Best Table Topics speaker award. Provide a quick summary of the eligible speakers and their individual responses. Then ask attendees to vote. Make sure that votes are passed to the Ah- Vote Counter. Note! Voting takes place, regardless of the number of speakers who qualify. If only one Table Topic speaker qualifies, they are awarded the “Best Table Topic Speaker” (no vote required).


Taking on this role improves vocabulary, grammar, critical listening skills and evaluation skills

Being the Grammarian is truly an exercise in developing your listening skills. You have two basic responsibilities:

  • Introduce the Word of the Day at the beginning of the meeting (usually with a definition and examples of common usage). At our club, we acknowledge attendees’ use of the word by rapping lightly on the table.
  • Comment on the use of English during the meeting. This includes commenting on good and bad grammar. Make recommendations when it is poor, and also highlight colourful, eloquent or exceptional usage.

Resources: Grammarian Script and Log

Before the meeting
  • Select a ‘Word of the Day’. It should be a word that increases our vocabulary, a word that can be incorporated easily into everyday conversation, but which is different from the way we usually express ourselves.  An adjective or adverb is generally advisable, since they are more adaptable than nouns or verbs, but you are welcome to select your own special word.
  • In letters large enough to see from the back of the room, print or write your word on the flipchart along with a brief definition.  Prepare at least one sentence as an example of how to use your word.
  • Ask the General Evaluator if you should explain your role alongside your introduction of the word of the day at the beginning of the meeting. Prepare your role description, if so.
Upon arrival at the meeting
  • Place the flipchart at the front of the room where it can be seen by all.
During the meeting
  • When introduced, announce the ‘Word of the Day’, state its part of speech (adjective, etc), define it, use it in a sentence, and request that anyone speaking during the meeting use it.
  • Briefly explain the role of the Grammarian if agreed to beforehand with the General Evaluator.
  • Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone’s word usage. Note any awkward deployment or misuse of the language (incomplete sentences, sentences that change direction mid-stream, incorrect grammar, malapropisms, tautology, etc).  Write down who used the Word of the Day (or a derivative of it), noting those who used it correctly or incorrectly.
  • When called on by the General Evaluator during the evaluation segment, take the stage and give your report. Try to offer the correct usage in every instance where there was a misuse, rather than merely listing errors. Report on creative language usage and announce who used the Word of the Day (or a derivative of it) correctly or incorrectly
  • Please also acknowledge good use of the English language.

Ah and Vote Counter

Taking on this role improves observational and listening skills   

The purpose of the Ah-Counter is to note any overused words or filler sounds used as a crutch by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Words may be inappropriate interjections, such as and, well, but, so and you know. Sounds may be ah, um or err. As Ah-Counter you: 

  • Request a copy of the Ah-Counter’s log from your sergeant at arms. If a log is not available, be prepared to take notes. 
  • When introduced during the club meeting, explain the role of the Ah-Counter. 
  • In the Ah-Counter’s log, record overlong pauses, overused words and filler sounds relied upon too often by all speakers. Examples include: and, but, so, you know, ah, um.
  • During the evaluation portion of the meeting, report your observations when called upon.
  • Collect and tally all votes for Best Speaker, Best Evaluator, and Best Table Topics speaker. Confer with the Timer to make sure that all speakers were within their required time limits and have not been disqualified.

Resources: Ah Counter Script and Log

Before the Meeting
  • Ask the General Evaluator if he/she will invite you to explain the duties of the Ah & Vote Counter at the beginning of the meeting for the benefit of guests. If so, prepare your role description.
During the Meeting
  • Introduce your role to the audience if agreed to beforehand with the General Evaluator.
  • Throughout the meeting, observe everyone (excluding guests) for crutch words, sounds and long pauses used as fillers (rather than as a necessary part of sentence structure). Write down how many crutch words or words each person used during all portions of the meeting.
  • When called on by the General Evaluator during the evaluation segment, take the stage and deliver your report.
  • Please also acknowledge people who used no filler words
  • Count the votes for Best Speaker, Best Evaluator and best Table Topic Speaker. Hand the results over to the president at the end of the meeting. He will announce the winners and award ribbons.


Taking on this role improves time management skills.

One of the skills Toastmasters practice is expressing a thought within a specific time. The timer is responsible for monitoring time for each meeting segment and each speaker. As Timer, you: 

  • Acquire the timing/signalling equipment from the sergeant at arms and know how to operate it.
  • Explain the timing rules and demonstrate the signal device if called upon to do so.  
  • Throughout the meeting, listen carefully to each participant and signal them accordingly.
  • When called to report, announce the speakers’ names and the time taken. 
  • After the meeting, return the timing/signalling equipment to the sergeant at arms.

Resources: Timer Script and Log

Before the Meeting
  • Ask the General Evaluator if he/she will invite you to give a brief explanation of the timing rules and signals at the beginning of the meeting for the benefit of the guests. If so, prepare the explanation.
Upon Arrival at the Meeting
  • Get timing equipment – three coloured cards – from our store material. 
  • Sit where the signal device can be seen easily by all speakers (usually in the centre of the meeting room).
During the Meeting
  • If agreed to with the General Evaluator, explain the timing rules and demonstrate the signal device.
  • Throughout the meeting, signal to each program participant the green, amber, and red times, according to the agenda (and including 30-second grace periods*). Record each participant’s name and time.
  • Be prepared to answer when the Toastmaster of the Evening (TME) asks you if the candidates for the best speaker, the best table topic speaker and the best evaluator are all within time (and therefore eligible for awards).
  • When the GE asks you to give your report at the end of the meeting, take the stage. Valid comments include everything pertaining to timing, such as: whether the meeting started on time, whether some speakers or evaluators exceeded their time limits, whether the dinner break ended on time, etc.


If the speaker goes over his/her time limit by more than thirty seconds, he/she is disqualified from the “Best” vote. If the speaker speaks under his/her time limit by more than thirty seconds, he/she is disqualified.

In Table Topics, the speaker has to speak at least one minute, no less.

Hot Seat

Your job is to fill a vacant role at the last minute, in the event that anybody scheduled to perform a meeting role is absent. You may be asked to give a speech.

You can find more on Toastmaster roles on the Toastmasters homepage.

Other Toastmaster roles (usually not used at Toastmasters Zuriberg)


The purpose of the Listener is to listen carefully during the meeting and make a note of interesting words or phrases (from speakers, evaluators, everyone). During the evaluation session at the end of the meeting, the listener has two to three minutes to repeat words and phrases to the audience. The audience tries to recall who said what.  This role helps the listener improve listening and note-taking skills, and helps the audience improve listening and memory skills.

Before the Meeting
  • Ask the General Evaluator if he/she will invite you to give a brief explanation of the duties of the Listener at the beginning of the meeting for the benefit of the guests. If so, prepare yourself to present your role description.
Upon Arrival at the Meeting
  • Get a pen and a blank piece of paper on which to make notes.
During the Meeting
  • Explain the role of the Listener to the club if invited to do so by the General Evaluator.
  • Throughout the meeting, listen carefully to everyone make a note of words and phrases that catch your attention. They can be common or unusual. This is up to you. Do not forget to write down who said what.
  • When called on by the GE during the general evaluation section, take the stage and repeat words and phrases to test the audience’s memory. Ask the audience to say who said what, wait until the correct name has been said, and confirm it. Then move onto the next phrase. You may wish to mix up the order of phrases to keep people guessing. Your time limit is two to three minutes.


Before the Meeting
  • Prepare two jokes to present during the club meeting, one anytime the Toastmaster of the Evening (TME) calls on you to fill a gap in the meeting segment before dinner, and the other either for after dinner or the end of the meeting.
Upon Arrival at the Meeting
  • Ask the TME when you will most likely be invited to present your jokes.
During the Meeting
  • When introduced, take the stage and entertain us!

Vice Sergeant at Arms

The Vice SAA serves alongside the SAA as the club’s ambassador, the first contact point for guests and members at each meeting.

Every member is obligated to be the Vice SAA at least 2x per year.

Before the Meeting
  • Consult the Sergeant-at-Arms (SAA) whether you should print any meeting documents or bring anything else to the meeting. See the SAA description in this Discussion Forum for all meeting materials.
  • Be prepared to arrive early (latest 45 minutes before the start of the meeting, generally 18:15) on the day of the meeting.
Upon Arrival at the Meeting
  • Arrive 45 minutes before the start of the meeting.
  • Supplies are all the way upstairs in the closet of the Carolistube
  • Extract the name tags, name placards, table placards,
  • Arrange the room and equipment (with the help of the Vice-SAAs):
  1. Club banner displayed in a corner at the front of the room
  2. Beamer and screen set up (with power and extension cords) if applicable
  3. First aid kit laid out
  4. 4-5 evaluation forms at each place
  5. An agenda (from the TME) at each place
  6. Ballots at each place
  7. A pen at each place
  8. Extra note paper on each table
  9. Table number placards on each table (so the waiters can read them to serve meals)
  10. Name tags and name placards laid out for members; blank name placards and name tags ready for guests, plus marker for writing
  11. Flipchart and markers set up for Grammarian (in corner opposite banner next to the stage)
  12. New Member Certificates ready for newly inducted members if applicable (tiny black leather case in the blue drawer)
  13. Give the timer (digital or analogue) and time cards to the Timer
  14. Give the gavel and “best” ribbons to the President
  15. For special meetings, make sure the requisite materials are available and furniture/props arranged
  16. In particular for debates: The SAA should bring special debate ballots to the debate, ensure the 2 timer bells are available, and arrange to have 2 tables with 2 chairs each placed to the left and right of the stage area for the debate teams.

Get your own drink and glass and place them at your seat

Sit at the back of the room to quietly and discreetly greet and situate guests/members who arrive late

15 Minutes before the Meeting
  • Stand at the door with to greet guests and members
  • Ensure all members and guests order and pay for meals and drinks
  • Have guests write their names clearly in large letters on a name placards, both sides
  • Fill out a name tag for each guest.
  • Give guests a brochure
  • Help guests find a seat and introduce them to experienced members
  • Make a list of all guests, and give the list to the President before the meeting begins (for introductions)
After the Meeting

Collect and store all club paraphernalia — including unused evaluation forms, ballots, and notepaper — carefully in its proper bag/box/case, and return everything to the supply closet.