Key Roles in a Toastmaster’s Evening

This is a challenging role. The Toastmaster for the evening introduces all the various speakers and roles for the evening in the appropriate order and keeps the event to time. Prior to the event the Toastmaster is contacted by the agenda organiser and told about the speakers, evaluators and those taking formal roles for the evening to ensure that the Toastmaster can make sure that everyone knows what they are doing during the evening and to help organise any changes if the speaker cannot attend or has not prepared the speech.

Learning opportunity: Many of us at various times of our lives and careers will be in a position of introducing others at a conference, training day or social event. Coordinating a whole evening is harder than it looks and although it is different to prepared speeches it also does a lot for building confidence in general.

This role gets us all relaxed and ready for the evening. As with the table topics master – it is a role that benefits from some creativity in that unusual ways for warming up an audience are always appreciated.

Learning opportunity: for all of us to realise that icebreakers and audience warm ups can be an important part of any presentation or event. A chance for everyone in the room to speak for 30 seconds or so (unless you indicate “pass” which is OK for guests or new members) and to think on their feet a little as you will invariably find that the thing you were going to say is said by the person just before you!!

The role requires you to do some or all of the following….. To choose a “word for the evening” or another grammatical or speaking challenge; to watch out for and at times do er and um counts; to watch out for other repetitive, excessive or unnecessary word usage (“in fact” “actually” “obviously” “you know”); to spot particularly nice phrases, descriptions or word usage.

Learning opportunity: to make yourself and other members more aware of the use of language in speaking and to notice when others have particularly good or less than high quality signs of literacy and grammar. Becoming more aware of these issues can assist your own speaking performance.

Some people find it rather hard to speak to the time limits!! Others prepare so well that they never exceed their allotted time. But we only know this because of the dedication of the evening’s timekeeper. As the biannual speaking competitions are timed and if one overruns it leads to disqualification – it is somewhat important to become accustomed to speaking for a pre-specified time. The timekeeper times the speeches, the evaluations, the table topics and anyone else he or she feels is wittering on too long! They give a timekeepers report at various points in the evening.

Learning opportunity: to gain an overall view of how an evenings event works time wise; to learn how timing (or lack of it) affects peoples speeches and the flow of a speech; to contribute to the overall smooth running of the evening. Even experience speakers can benefit from doing this role from time to time – but it is also a good role for the beginner – perhaps as “assistant timekeeper”.

This role is for the coordination of the table topics slot where the master comes up with a topic or an interesting way of generating topics or an interesting way of linking them. This could be “your favourite film” or involving a draw or items or written topics out of a hat or bag. But innovation needed – as there are only so many films one can talk about throughout the year!! There is no right or wrong set of topics for table topics. The master describes how they will conduct the table topics and explains any theme they have chose – then chooses a “volunteer” and then gives them the topic they will talk about for two minutes. Guests and new members are particularly welcome to alert the TTM that they would like to have a go. TTM should try where possible to choose people who have either not got a formal role for the evening or who are not giving speeches.

This is a role which helps to tie up the evening – and involves giving the group an overview of the event with highs and achievements praised as well as areas in which we could all as a club or audience do better or where those taking formal roles for the evening may need to pay further attention. It requires a lot of vigilance during the evening It is a role generally best taken after having done a few speech evaluations and a few speeches yourself.