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Toastmaster

You are the emcee.

The Toastmaster is a meeting’s director and host. You won’t usually be assigned this role until you are thoroughly familiar with the club and its procedures. If your club’s customs vary from those described here, ask your mentor or the club vice president education (VPE) for pointers well before the meeting.

Begin preparing for your role several days in advance. You can use the Toastmaster's Check List to help you prepare. You’ll need to know who will fill the other meeting roles and if a theme is planned for the meeting. You’ll also need an up-to-date meeting agenda. Get this information from your VPE.

Next, contact the general evaluator and make sure you’re both working from the same agenda. Ask the general evaluator to call other members of the evaluation team – speech evaluators, Topicsmaster, timer, grammarian, Ah-Counter – and remind them of their responsibilities. Remember, as the director, you’re responsible for ensuring all of the meeting’s players know their parts and hit their marks.

To help the Topicsmaster, create a list of program participants already assigned a speaking role so he or she can call on others first.

As the Toastmaster, you’ll introduce each speaker. If a speaker will not write his or her own introduction, you will write it. Introductions must be brief and carefully planned. Contact speakers several days before the meeting to ask about:

  • Speech topic and title
  • Manual and project title
  • Assignment objectives
  • Speaker’s personal objectives
  • Delivery time

You need all of these elements to create your introductions. Remember to keep the introductions between 30-60 seconds in length.

For more information about introductions see When You’re the Introducer (Item 1167E) and The Better Speaker Series module Creating an Introduction (Item 277).

Of course, you want to avoid awkward interruptions or gaps in meeting flow so your last preparation step before the meeting is to plan remarks you can use to make smooth transitions from one portion of the program to another. You may not need them, but you should be prepared for the possibility of awkward periods of silence. 

The Big Show
On meeting day, show up early. You’ll need time to make sure the stage is set for a successful meeting. To start, check with each speaker as they arrive to see if they have made any last-minute changes to their speeches – such as changing the title.

You and the speakers will need quick and easy access to the lectern. Direct the speakers to sit near the front of the room and make sure they leave a seat open for you near the front.

When it’s time to start the program, the club president calls the meeting to order. Sometimes he or she will make announcements, introduce guests or conduct other club business before introducing you.

When you’re introduced, the president will wait until you arrive at the lectern before being seated. (This is why you should sit at the front of the room.)

Pay attention to the time. You are responsible for beginning and ending the meeting on time. You may have to adjust the schedule during the meeting to accomplish this. Make sure each meeting segment adheres to the schedule. If time allows, you can make some brief remarks about Toastmasters’ educational program for the benefit of guests and new members before you move forward with the introductions:

  • Introduce the general evaluator as you would any speaker. Remain standing near the lectern after your introduction until the speaker has assumed control of the lectern, then be seated. The general evaluator will introduce the other members of the evaluation team. 
  • Introduce the Topicsmaster as you would any speaker. Remain standing near the lectern after your introduction until the speaker has assumed control of the lectern, then be seated.

In some clubs it is customary for the Toastmaster and the person assuming control of the lectern to exchange a handshake. This isn’t required, but it’s sometimes done to help new members recognize when control of the lectern passes from the Toastmaster to the speaker and vice versa.

After the Table Topics session has concluded, most clubs begin the speaking program. Introduce each speaker in turn.

You will lead the applause before and after the Table Topics session, each speaker and the general evaluator. When each presenter has finished, you return to the lectern so the speaker can be seated and you can begin your next introduction.

At the conclusion of the speaking program, request the timer’s report and vote for the best speaker, if your club offers this award.

Briefly reintroduce the general evaluator.

While votes are being tallied, invite comments from guests and announcements (such as verification of next week’s program).

Present trophies or ribbons as practiced by your club.

Request the thought for the day if your club provides for this. Be sure to find out when your club does this during a meeting. Many clubs end on this note while others prefer to begin a meeting with this thought in mind.

Adjourn the meeting, or if appropriate, return control to the club president.

Serving as Toastmaster is an excellent way to practice many valuable skills as you strive to make the meeting one of the club’s best. Preparation is key to your success.

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