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When You Are the Chairperson

By Robert “Bob” Kienzle, DTM


As the highest-ranking club officer, the president typically presides over club meetings. However, if the president wants to give other members the opportunity to practice chairing a meeting, or simply wants to provide more diversity in meetings, he or she can assign the chairperson role to another club officer. If the president is absent, that role may be filled by the vice president education (VPE) or by the next-highest-ranking officer present. 

When the responsibility is yours to serve as the meeting chairperson, follow these steps to present your sessions in a professional and concise manner.


Opening the meeting:

1. Start on time. People arriving late should not hold up the meeting.

2. Call the meeting to order with a welcoming remark, but don’t steal the stage from the Toastmaster of the Day. Keep your part short and to the point. Allow time for the Toastmaster to give a creative introduction and announce the meeting theme. 

3. Briefly explain Toastmasters International to guests, and always have someone read the mission statement.

4. Introduce the club to guests and explain what makes it unique.

Depending on time constraints, you may ask all guests or first-time attendees to introduce themselves. Give them a time limit and three questions to answer (i.e., “In 15 seconds or less, tell us your name, job and favorite musical band.”). Be creative.

5. Ask for pre-meeting announcements. For example, the VPE may wish to distribute a signup sheet, but don’t bore guests with too much business talk. Regular club business can come at the end of the meeting or after a break. 

6. Ask the Toastmaster if changes have been made to the agenda.

7. Introduce the Toastmaster role and then introduce the Toastmaster for that meeting.


Closing the meeting:

1. Thank the Toastmaster for their contribution and lead a final round of applause.

2. Ask members if any club business needs to be discussed. Lead any motions, discussions or voting following the procedure your club has chosen to follow.

3. Ask for announcements, such as additional club events. Allow time for the VPE to verify that a Toastmaster of the Day is signed up for the next week’s meeting.

4. If time permits, ask guests for feedback.

5. Announce the next meeting and invite everyone to attend. Announce any other event. Adjourn the meeting.

To learn more about chairing a meeting, read the Toastmasters guidebook Chairman (Item 200).