Frequently Asked Questions
- 1: What is Toastmasters?
- 2: How is Toastmasters organised?
- 3: Do I have to ask permission before attending a meeting of a club in my area?
- 4: How does one go about joining Toastmasters?
- 5: How much does membership cost?
- 6: What happens at a meeting?
- 7: What's a "prepared speech?"
- 8: What speech projects are there for me to work on?
- 9: What is "Table Topics?"
- 10: What is Evaluation?
- 11: What's all this emphasis on time limits?
- 12: Why all this structure to the meeting?
- 13: I'm scared to death of speaking! Why should I look into Toastmasters?
- 14: How is Toastmasters more beneficial than other forms of speaking improvement?
- 15: Can I belong to more than one club?
- 16: If I belong to more than one club, do I have to pay full dues for each?
- 17: What do I get for my dues?
- 18: What do I get for my New Member fee?
- 19: If I want to drop out of Toastmasters after joining, what do I do?
- 20: How receptive are clubs to new members?
- 21: If I join, will they make me speak right away?
- 22: What meeting roles are there?
- 23: What are your policies on data and privacy?
- 24: Guide for Timekeeper
- 25: Guide for Table Topics Evaluator
- 26: Guide for Speech Evaluator
- 27: Guide for Sergeant at Arms
- 28: Guide for Grammarian
- 29: Guide for General Evaluator
- 30: Guide for Table Topics Master
- 31: Guide for Toastmaster of the Evening
Toastmasters International is a world leader in communication and leadership development. The organisation has over 360,000 members. Members improve their speaking and leadership skills by attending one of the 16,400 clubs in 141 countries that make up the global network of meeting locations.
The world needs leaders. Leaders head families, coach teams, run businesses and mentor others. These leaders must not only accomplish, they must communicate. By regularly giving speeches, gaining feedback, leading teams and guiding others to achieve their goals in a supportive atmosphere, leaders emerge from the Toastmasters program. Every Toastmaster’s journey begins with a single speech. During their journey, they learn to tell their stories. They listen and answer. They plan and lead. They give feedback—and accept it. Through our community of learners, they find their path to leadership.
Toastmasters empowers individuals to become more effective communicators and leaders. It provides a supportive and positive learning experience in which members are empowered to develop communication and leadership skills, resulting in greater self-confidence and personal growth.
All Toastmasters members belong to one or more clubs. The recommended size for a club is about twenty to thirty members.
There are thousands of clubs around the world. There are many sorts of clubs: community clubs, military clubs, company clubs, prison clubs, college clubs and so on.
If you're visiting a community club, it might not be a bad idea to let them know you're coming so they can tell you any details, like what time members arrive. Community clubs are almost always open to all and they'll be delighted to have you come to the meeting.
Unlike some other organisations, where one must have a sponsoring member who invites you to the meeting and introduces you to the group, Toastmasters welcomes all guests. If the club is open to membership from the community, you will usually be offered a membership application at the end of the meeting.
If you have visited a club and found it to your liking, ask a member (preferably an officer, who is more likely to be able to help you) for an application form.
Upon joining Toastmasters, you will find yourself paying two fees. One is the £13 fee that every new member must pay for lifetime membership of Toastmasters and to receive educational materials. One is the monthly dues of £10 per month.
All Toastmasters clubs are billed in March and September for semi-annual dues for their members who wish to remain members for the next six months. If you join in between those periods, you submit a pro-rata share of the dues.
The format varies slightly from club to club, but the basics include:
• introduction of the Toastmaster of the Meeting, who presides over the program that day and explains the meeting as it goes along
• prepared speeches from members (of which more below)
• impromptu speeches from members (also known as Table Topics, of which more below)
• oral evaluations of the prepared speeches (of which more below)
• reports from other evaluation personnel, such as speech timer, grammarian, "ah" counter, wordmaster, and General Evaluator.
Meetings last about two hours.
When you join Toastmasters, you will gain access to Pathways, which is Toastmasters’ educational program. Each project calls on you to prepare a speech on a subject of your own choosing, but using certain speaking principles. Each project lists the objectives for that speech and includes a written checklist for your evaluator to use when evaluating the speech.
If you are scheduled to speak at a meeting, you generally log in to Pathways a week or two in advance and put together a speech on whatever you like, but paying attention to the goals and objectives for that speech. Then, when you go to the meeting, you hand the evaluation criteria to your evaluator and that person makes written comments on the checklist while you speak. Your evaluator will give you an oral evaluation as well in the club meeting.
When you start your Toastmaster journey, you will take the Pathways Assessment online. There are ten different learning paths and the Pathways Assessment will help you identify the path that best meets your needs, interests and goals. After responding to a series of questions, you will be presented with the path that best fits you and your current experience.
Each of the 10 paths is unique:
Each path is divided into five levels that build in complexity. The levels help you build on and apply what you have learned.
LEVEL 1: Master the Fundamentals.
LEVEL 2: Learning Your Style.
LEVEL 3: Increasing Knowledge.
LEVEL 4: Building Skills.
LEVEL 5: Demonstrating Expertise.
Table Topics is fun! It calls on you, the guest or member, to present a one to two minute impromptu speech on a subject not known to you until the moment you get up to speak! A member of the club assigned to be Topicsmaster will prepare a few impromptu topics and call on members (or guests, if they've given consent in advance to being called on) to stand up and speak on the topic.
The Evaluation program is the third of the three main parts to the meeting. All prepared speakers, as noted above, should have their project evaluation criteria with them and should have passed them on to the evaluators beforehand. During the speech, and after, each person's evaluator should make written notes and furthermore, plan what to say during the two to three minute oral evaluation.
A good evaluator will say "here's what you did well, and here's why doing that was good, and here are some things you might want to work on for your next speech, and here's how you might work on them." It's important to remember that the evaluator is just one point of view, although one that has focused in on your speech closely.
Other members of the audience can give you written or spoken comments on aspects of your speech they feel important.
As noted above, speeches have time limits, Table Topics have time limits (1-2 minutes, usually) and evaluations have time limits (2-3 minutes, usually).
This is in order to drive home the point that a good speaker makes effective use of the time allotted and does not keep going and going until the audience is bored. In the real world, quite often there are practical limits on how long a meeting can or should go; by setting time limits on speeches and presentations, participants learn brevity and time management and the club meeting itself can be expected to end on schedule.
Meetings generally are not complicated once you get used to the timing lights and the different roles members of the group play.
Since the average club is expected to have 20 or more members, you need a lot of roles for people to play in order to involve everyone. And, since meeting assignments vary from meeting to meeting, everyone gets practice doing everything over the course of several meetings.
One meeting, you'll be assigned to give a speech; the next, you might be timer; the next, you might be the Toastmaster of the Meeting, running the whole show. It keeps you flexible and it keeps you from having to prepare a speech EVERY meeting.
In poll after poll, "public speaking" comes up as more feared than "death." Public speaking is the number #1 fear. You are no different. Even if you think you are really good at speaking, there will be times when your heart stops and your palms sweat and you freeze before an audience. Toastmasters can help with that.
Remember that EVERYONE in a Toastmasters club is there because at some point they realised they needed help communicating and speaking before audiences. Almost everyone will remember how wretched they felt when they gave their first speech. Toastmasters clubs are really supportive.
If you are aware of how nervous you are, but aren't convinced that you should do anything about it, stop and think what skill is more important than any other when it comes to getting and keeping a good job?
Think you are already an excellent speaker? People who think they're really good come to Toastmasters to learn how to improve. Being comfortable doesn't mean that you're actually GOOD. Even if you ARE good, you can always get better. Toastmasters can give you a lot of skills and keep good speakers improving.
If you still don't know whether you'd like Toastmasters, why not visit a meeting? If you still don't think it's your cup of tea, we'll still be happy you came by.
Toastmasters is constant reinforcement and constant improvement. You learn by doing, not by sitting there while someone lectures for hours.
Yes. This is called "dual membership" even if you belong to more than two clubs. When you join the second club, of course, you don't need to pay the New Member fee, because you don't need a second set of starter materials.
Yes. If you belong to more than one club, you must nonetheless pay the full monthly dues for each club.
Your semi-annual dues paid to World Headquarters goes partly for a subscription to the Toastmaster magazine (which, to be honest, is an excellent magazine), partly to support development of new educational programs, partly to support operations at World Headquarters (i.e. the staff who process membership applications, applications, new club applications, etc. etc. ad nauseam) and partly to support your local District organisation.
Your club dues generally go to pay for the costs of hiring the meeting venue and club equipment such as ballots, awards, ribbons and educational materials.
Your New Member fee gets you the following:
• Complete access to Pathways, which is Toastmasters’ educational program.
• Speaking and leadership opportunities.
• Written and oral evaluations of your speeches.
• Complete access to many other resources downloadable from the Toastmasters website.
Simply wait for March or September to arrive and don't pay your dues again.
It is important to let your Vice President Education know that they should stop scheduling you for speeches.
Since most people are genuinely terrified of public speaking, Toastmasters has its hands full recruiting members. There's virtually no chance that you won't be enthusiastically welcomed into any club you join and immediately be considered one of the gang.
It a good idea to visit ALL Toastmasters clubs in your area before deciding which one you want to join.
No. You will not be asked to speak unless you're ready to. If you feel more comfortable waiting a few months, that's fine. Most clubs attempt to arrange the meeting schedules in such a way that most members are involved in some capacity at each meeting, so you'll need to let them know what your wishes are.
The Timer. This role exists so that speakers can practise giving presentations within length-specific parameters. This becomes especially helpful for those who must give regular presentations at work, or who would like to take on the public speaking circuit. After all, professional speakers are typically given time limits.
The Ah Counter. This person counts the "ums," "ahs," and other filler words people typically use when they feel lost or nervous during a speech. By having someone report our filler words back to us, we become more aware of them, and learn that simply pausing can be the better option, and convey a higher level of confidence to our audience.
The Grammarian. The grammarian pays attention to the speakers' skill with grammar, and also brings us the word of the day, as a means of helping us build our vocabulary.
The Toastmaster. This person leads the entire meeting. This role helps build public speaking skills and leadership skills.
The Table Topics Master. This person prepares a set of questions and then poses them to meeting attendees, encouraging them to come on up and speak off-the-cuff.
The General Evaluator. This person evaluates how the meeting went as a whole. Again, this role helps build public speaking, listening, and leadership skills.
The Speech Evaluators. Basically, you're honing your listening skills, and you're using everything you learned at various meetings, from various evaluations, and in your workbook to give someone else constructive feedback. Audience members in general are particular well-qualified to evaluate speeches. After all, no one knows better than them how a speech moved them, whether it was confusing, whether it was effective or whether it was boring.
NORTH OXFORD SPEAKERS PRIVACY AND CONSENT NOTICE
North Oxford Speakers takes your privacy very seriously. This notice explains what personal data the club collects, how the club collects it, how it is used, the conditions under which the data may be disclosed to others, and how it’s kept secure.
If you choose to agree to this Privacy Notice then we will send a copy of this Privacy Notice to the email address you provide for your own records.
Who we are and how you can contact us
We are North Oxford Speakers - a Toastmasters International Club (club number 4166). You can contact us at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org
The information we collect
If you are a guest or a visitor, we will collect your name and email address on our sign-in sheet. In addition, if you are either a member of our club already, or choose to become a member in future, we will collect your name, email address, mobile phone number, home phone number, gender and postal address on the membership registration form.
During club meetings we may take photos of our members and of club visitors, including you. We may use these photos to publicise our club through a variety of media including the club, district and Toastmasters International websites as well as through our social media accounts such as Meetup, Facebook, Twitter or Linked in.
Why we collect this information
We collect your information so that we can keep in contact with you about Toastmasters meetings and special events. If you are a member of the club already or choose to become a member in future, Toastmasters International (our governing body) use your information so they may keep in contact with you directly.
Who we share your information shared with and where we store it
As a club we use a variety of tools to communicate with our members and these are described in turn below:
1. Toastmasters International - Leadership Central &amp; Base Camp
Toastmasters International provides you with the resources that will support you as a member of Toastmasters through services such as the Base Camp platform.
If you are a member of the club already or choose to become a member in future, we will share your name, email address, home phone number, mobile phone number, gender and postal address with Toastmasters International, which is located in the United States, who may in turn share your personal information with third-party service providers whom they use to perform certain functions on their behalf (for example sending postal mail).
Sharing this personal information with Toastmasters International is necessary in order for you to be registered as a member of this Toastmasters club, North Oxford Speakers, which operates under licence from Toastmasters International.
You agree to receive email and postal communications from Toastmasters International when we complete the membership registration process on your behalf. Once we have registered you with Toastmasters International you can manage the privacy settings for your personal information and opt-out of receiving information from Toastmasters International by post or email at any time. Our club committee can assist you with this.
Through Easy-Speak you agree to receive email communications from our club, as well as special notifications that relate to our Toastmasters Area, District and Division. Within your Easy-Speak profile you can manage the privacy settings for your personal information, change your username, and opt-out of receiving future email notifications at any time. Our club committee can assist with this.
3. Email and telephone
Our club will communicate with members by email or phone about matters concerning club management, meeting organisation, Toastmasters events and social events. Club officers will maintain contact lists of names, phone numbers and email addresses in accordance with this privacy notice.
You agree to receive email and phone communications from club officers about matters relating to club and meeting management, and club events. You can opt out at any time by contacting the club secretary on email@example.com
Access to your personal information
● Club Officers can access your personal information through Easy-Speak, TMI Leadership Central and Base Camp.
● Your email address will be shared with other club members if it is necessary, in order to facilitate organisation of meetings and proper functioning of the club.
Protecting your information
In order to protect your personal information we have a best practice policy in place for our club committee, detailed below:
North Oxford Speakers best practice policy to ensure that club officers protect your personal information:
We as club officers of North Oxford Speakers Toastmasters agree to follow the best practice guidelines set out below:
● We will ensure that we foster a policy of using secure passwords on all systems which we use as a club and for all personal systems through which we have access to any club personal information.
● Any paper copies of club records will be kept securely in one location and will be destroyed when membership ceases.
● We will ensure that we have obtained consent from all guests and members to process their personal information. We will maintain records of consent.
● We will ensure that access to personal information is limited to our Club Officers.
● We will ensure that any systems which club officers use that hold personal information are password protected.
● Club Officers are encouraged to ensure that any computers which they use to access systems containing personal information have the latest software/security installed.
Keeping and deleting your information
The membership registration forms on which we collect your personal information will be stored either as a hard copy and kept securely, or scanned and stored on a digital drive which is accessible only to club officers.
If you cease to become a member of this club, we will contact you to ask whether you wish us to continue to hold your personal information. If we do not hear from you within 30 days we will destroy any hard copies, and delete your personal information from our database and from Easy-Speak as soon as possible after the 30 day period. Your information is retained by Toastmasters International, but is removed from the visible Club Central listing.
How to access the information held about you, and how you can correct it or have it deleted
You may also contact us to:
● obtain a record of the information we hold about you.
● ask us to correct information that you think is inaccurate. We want to make sure that your personal information is accurate and up to date.
● ask us delete any personal information we hold about you under your right to be forgotten.
If you have any complaints, please email our club secretary, addressing your email to firstname.lastname@example.org for the attention of the Data Protection Team. If you have raised a complaint with us and are still dissatisfied, you may report your concern directly to the Information Commissioner’s Office.
1. Arrive by 7.15 to allow time to check the lights and the bell, and to check the agenda with the VPE and TME.
2. If any bulbs are not working, replace the bulbs from the spares in the club boxes. In the unlikely event that the lights won’t work and we can’t change the fuse, the VPE should have some coloured cards to use instead.
3. Decide which timing device you want to use; there is a stopwatch, but many people like to use their smartphone. If you do this, have your phone on silent and turn off any autolock.
4. When the meeting starts, the TME will ask the Timekeeper to explain and demonstrate the lights. Explain that “The green light will come on when the speaker has reached the minimum time they are to be speaking; the amber will come on as they approach the end of their allotted time, and the red light will indicate that time is up, but that they have a further 30 seconds to wrap up. In a contest if you go over that 30 seconds, you would be disqualified; but since this is a club meeting, I have a bell, which I will ring for anyone going on after this!”
You don’t have to stick to this word for word, use our own words, but this is the information you need to communicate. Speak clearly and with enough volume so that all can hear. If you can use the Word of The Day, please do!
5. As you say your piece, demonstrate the lights, having only one light on at a time, and the bell.
6. You will be timing the Round Robin (30 secs ring bell), Table Topics Speakers (1, 1.5, 2 mins), the Table Topics evaluator (3,4, 5 mins), (red only, or bell, at 45 seconds unless the TTM asks for something else) the Speakers (these should be timed according to the times on the agenda, but the evaluator or the speaker may ask for different times, in which case go by what they say), the Speech Evaluators (2, 2.5, 3 mins), the Wordmaster’s report at the end, (1,1.5, 2 mins) and the General Evaluator (5,6,7 mins).
7. When the green light comes on, leave it on until the amber comes on, then leave the amber on until the red comes on. Leave the red on until the speaker finishes. Note down the time when the speaker finishes and turn off all the lights. If you have to use the coloured cards, hold up each one for the full time until the next one is due, and the red until they finish.
8. The bell- use your judgment about this; if they are clearly coming to the end, there’s no need to ring it, but if it looks like they are still in full flow after their extra 30 seconds, give it a ring.
9. For each of the Table Topics, Speakers, and Speech Evaluators, make a note of the names, the name of the topic or title of the speech, and the time for which each speaker speaks for.
10. Start the timer from the speaker’s first verbal or non-verbal communication; sometimes people might start off with a bit of play acting. Use you best judgement on this, but don’t worry too much about it, the odd few seconds don’t matter!
11. When requested by the TME, which will be after each of the three sections (TTs, Speeches and Evaluations) give the names, topic name or speech title, and the time taken by each speaker.
12. You will not be asked to report on the times of the Wordmaster or General Evaluator.
The main purpose of the Topics Evaluator role is to provide a short evaluation for each of the table topics speakers in the form of a spoken report.
The main responsibilities of the Topics Evaluator are:
• To take notes during the table topics section of the meeting
• To prepare a short evaluation for each speaker giving constructive feedback and encouragement
• To deliver all of the evaluations within the allotted time
During the table topics session make notes on each of the speeches, ensuring that you watch the speaker as well as listen.
Identify possible commendations (positive comments) and recommendations (suggestions for improvement) for each speaker. Remember to make a note of the topic each speaker was invited to tackle – when you give your report it is important to be able to remember who spoke about what!
Prepare your evaluations
The amount of time you have for each speaker will depend on the number of speakers, but in any case these evaluations will need to be less detailed than a full speech evaluation.
A typical session could have as few as four speakers and as many as eight or even ten, but the allocated time will generally stay the same, so tailor your evaluations accordingly. Make sure you do not run out of time or a speaker may miss out on being evaluated!
Try to identify at least one commendation and one recommendation for each speaker. If there is time, sandwich your recommendation between two brief commendations but keep it focussed – typically you will have a minute or less for each speaker.
As far as possible try to finalise your notes for each speaker on the fly. The time available between the final topics speaker and your report is quite limited – just the Timekeeper’s summary of the speech timings followed by a minute for voting.
Give your evaluations
Give a brief introduction, such as “In our table topics session today we six speakers gave impromptu speeches on the theme of ‘super powers’. As Topics Evaluator it is my job to provide feedback for each speaker.”
Also try to introduce each speaker in a consistent way, for example: “Our first speaker was Aaron who told us what he would do if he was invisible for a day.” As with a full speech evaluation, do not waste time by summarising what the speaker said – the audience knows this already.
Wrap up your report with a general positive comment such as: “Well done to all of our speakers – I thought everyone responded very creatively to a challenging topic!”
It is your job to evaluate the topics speakers, not the Topicsmaster. By all means make a brief comment in your introduction that you found the session “enjoyable”, “challenging” or perhaps “highly topical” but do keep it brief and do not offer any recommendations for the Topicsmaster – that is for the General Evaluator to do.
If you are registered for Pathways, firstly, please review the “How to Evaluate” Tutorial on Base Camp.
You will be asked by the TME to introduce the speech to the meeting, which means giving the manual or Path name, and the what the project is, outlining some of the objectives of the project, and anything else the speaker wants you to watch out for, unless they ask you not to mention any particular aspects of that. The project details will be in manual from the traditional program, or in the Project description and Evaluation resource for a Pathways speech- the speaker should provide you with this information if you don’t have access to it yourself, so you can prepare in advance. You should also give the timing of the speech, the title. However, you aren't introducing the speaker, the TME will do that, so you don't do the "Please welcome..... " bit.
As you listen to his speech, make some notes in whatever way suits you, and plan a 2-3 minute evaluation. The important points are to be really encouraging, point out all the things the speaker did well, what you liked about the speech, what you felt about the speech; you can cover the structure and organisation; aspects of the delivery, such as language, eye contact, volume, etc, (which are all specified it a Pathways speech) Aim to come up with at least two or three things you can suggest that the speaker could work on, or do differently, and deliver the suggestions in a positive way.
With a Pathways speech, you don’t share the actual scores in your verbal evaluation, they are for the speakers own information; but also be aware that a score if 3 is “Accomplished” so don’t feel that you have to give scores of 4s and 5s, unless they really cannot improve that particular aspect of the speech or delivery. Remember too that the speaker will welcome constructive suggestions, because they wants to improve! In particular, address whether the speaker met the objectives of this project. There isn't time to cover everything, so watch the lights, its green at 2, amber at 2.5, and red at 3, one can often be taken by surprise by the red light!
Lastly, complete the evaluation page in the manual, or on the Evaluation resource, and return to the speaker. In Pathways, you do have the option of completing the PDF on line and emailing it to the speaker, but if you choose this option (after discussion with the speaker) please ensure that you do this no later than 24 hours after the meeting,
The following are some extracts from an evaluation workshop recently presented:
Providing immediate feedback: when memories are fresh
The two elements of feedback are:
1. POSITIVE feedback- letting speakers, particularly inexperienced ones, know what they are doing well. Speakers don’t always realise what they are doing well, if it comes naturally, and will naturally focus on what they are not doing so well- to appreciate something that is working is a great confidence booster
2. Offering suggestions for improvement- giving the speaker a new perspective- as the speaker, you are the one person who cannot experience how your speech came over, or be objective about areas for improvement. Your evaluator can help you to recognise difficulties and shortcomings, and offer suggestions about what you can do to improve
How to evaluate effectively: Before the speech, talk to the speaker about the manual objectives
and evaluation guidelines
Each project has specific objectives, and evaluation guidelines, and must be evaluated according to these specifics- if it isn’t, your evaluation will be at best less effective than it might have been, and at worst, useless, because the evaluator won’t have understood what the speakers aims and objectives are.
Also talk about any specific concerns the speaker has, anything they particularly want you to watch out for, which may not be specific to this project, but they are addressing for their individual progress as a speaker.
How you says it is of great importance! This is YOUR PERSONAL view of the speech, it is only your opinion and the words chosen should reflect this, so use “I felt that…” “ I liked…” “ My reaction was….” Etc. Focus on the “What I saw, what I heard, what I felt” approach. Praise and suggest in turn- the sandwich technique: Commend, recommend, commend
“I liked very much the way you used descriptive words to give a clear picture of events, but I thought perhaps you could have been more expressive with your hand gestures which would have emphasised even more the real drama of your story”
Negative, personal or judgemental words to avoid! “You should have…” “You didn’t……” “you failed…..” “Your speech could have been better if………” “…… wasn’t very good” “what went wrong was…..” “one criticism I have is that…….”
Instead use “ Next time, you could try…” “ A suggestion might be to…..” “ I felt that what might work better would be to …….” “ Perhaps you could try……” “Something to work on might be…..” I suggest…..” “ You could consider” “ I have found myself that……..”
Where you can, explain how a change might enhance the speech, eg, “your eye contact with the audience was good, but if you had held that eye contact for a few seconds longer, it would have given your speech even more impact by making it more personal for the audience”
Firstly, there is some information here, from EasySpeak, but you can ignore the last two points, these refer to the S@A Committee role, not the meeting one. We do have the S@A open the meeting.
Aim to arrive no later than 7.15, a bit earlier if you can. Set up the banner, lectern, gavel and mallet at the front of the room; and the stand for the Word on the desk in front of the bench. Set up lights and check that they work.
On the table, set out some Guest packs, a few magazines, members badges, blank badges for guests with thick markers, and some agendas.
Distribute voting slips and agendas on the benches, about 3 or 4 along each bench. Find the award cards for Best Speaker, Best Table Topic Speaker and Best Evaluator- get two for each in case there is a tie.
Just before 7.30, check that the President and TME are ready, and if so bang the gavel at 7.30 precisely to start the meeting, with a few very brief words of your choosing such as “Ladies and gentlemen,” or “Toastmasters and guests,” “welcome to our meeting”- anything you feel inclined- and then say “please welcome our President …………………………..”
Lead the applause, and stay there until the President comes up and shakes hands, and then return to your seat (I recommend the end of a row, near the door, so you can speak to any guests who come in late and tell them where to sit).
Once Table Topics is over, the TME will ask the timekeeper to announce the times, for everyone to vote for the best TT; at this point, stand up and go round to collect all the votes. Discreetly check them and decide who's the winner, fill in the award card.
After the break (the TME should say what time to reconvene), check that the TME is ready, bang the gavel, wait for everyone to settle, and say something like “Welcome back to the second half of the meeting, and to your Toastmaster of the Evening, …………….” Sound very enthusiastic! Wait for the TME to come up to you at the lectern, shake hands, and return to your seat. There will be votes for best speaker, and best evaluator, and for each of those you again collect the votes, work out the result, and complete the award cards.
At the end of the meeting, help to clear things away, in the boxes/places they were in originally. Others will help.
Here is a link to some advice about the role:
In this link, though, the roles of um /ah counter and grammarian are two separate roles; we combine the two. And we don’t have an um/ah log.
This briefing tells you everything that the Grammarian/Wordmaster/Ah counter does. We do always have a "word of the day", and there should be a theme for meeting, which you can pick if there isn’t one already. The theme can be anything at all, perhaps relevant to the season, or some world event, or something uplifting. If you’d prefer not to choose a theme, let the VPE know and they will think of something. Link your word to the theme if you can, however loosely, but that’s not critical.
It’s good to choose a word that can have more than one form, eg verb, noun, adjective, (as in, eg, Conspire, Conspiratorial, Conspirator). If you can, print the word in huge letters do it can be easily seen, and if you can do it so that the display can be seen from both sides, that's really helpful. If you can’t print, write it clearly in large letters with a black marker pen.
You will be called up by the Toastmaster of the Evening (TME) during their introduction. Come up to the front, (but not up to the bench) and begin- you can start with “Mr TME, Fellow Toastmasters, welcome guests” if you wish, but you don’t have to. You get two minutes to introduce your word, and tell the meeting about the other aspect of your role, as Ah Counter; watching out for and noting use of and ums and aahs and other “Filler words” or verbal "crutches" such as "sort of" "you know" "OK" "I mean" “like”.
When introducing the word, give its definition, any variations of the word you are allowing, some examples of its use in sentences, and if you wish a brief word about its origin or derivation.
Throughout the meeting, make a note of every use of your word, and also make note of the ums and aahs and other "filler" words that people use. You don't have to count every one, though you can; and it's up to you if you want to give everyone's score in your end-of-meeting report, or just pick out the worst offenders and those who didn't use any at all.
In your report, try and mention by name everyone who used the word, especially those who used it more than once. It’s a good idea to ask if you’ve missed anyone, because it is disappointing for the speaker if they have used the word and the grammarian hasn’t noticed. You've got two minutes for your final report, we don't usually give lights for that but we can ask the timekeeper to give you lights if you think that would be helpful.
If there is time, in addition to use of the word, and your um/ah report, you can also mention any good words and phrases that you liked, but this is optional. Any questions, ask the VPE.
1. Evaluate the meeting, e.g. start time, guests being looked after- efficient Sergeant at Arms?
2. TME- any suggestions?
3. Grammarian- good word, identified filler words, good report?
4. Timekeeper- good clear reports?
5. Table Topics- this is to evaluate the session overall and the TTM - not the speakers, they have already been evaluated. You’re looking for things like a good explanation of the purpose and the process, for the benefit of guests; clear explanation of timings, a theme, difficulty or otherwise of the topics, fun, good choice of speakers (e.g. don’t choose guests first, choose members who aren’t otherwise on the program first); did the evaluators make a good job of coming up with suggestions for improvement? Special praise for first time speakers or guests taking part.
6. Evaluate the speech evaluators, do not to re-evaluate the speeches. Aim to follow the usual method, of giving both praise and suggestions for how the evaluator might improve. You don’t have much time though, so keep it brief.
7. Thank everyone for a fantastic meeting!
Any questions, just ask!
• Above all have fun ! This is a warm up session.
• Sit near the front so that you move easily to and from the lectern between
• Prior to the meeting chose a theme for the Round Robin and 5 or 6 individual
• Use topic subjects that are anything from a single word to a short sentence;
not too long or too specific. (These could be developed from the original
Round Robin theme, but do not have to be.)
• Before the meeting starts, discreetly check with each guest whether they want
When called up to the lectern begin with the Round Robin.
• Explain that this is a single general theme for everyone to speak for 30
seconds in turn.
• At the start of the Round Robin ask the timer to ring the bell after each 30
seconds as each member speaks.
• Then give the theme and instruct members to take turns (anti-)clockwise.
Next start the topics session.
• Explain the purpose of Topics: to practise speaking impromptu, to trust your
improvisation skills, to speak without notes, to develop a good speech form, to
use humour and personal experience.
• Ask the timer to explain the timing of the lights for topics.
• Choose an experienced speaker for your first topic, but try to choose people
who are not giving a speech, also avoid the Topics Evaluator and the
Toastmaster of the Evening,
• When each speaker comes to the lectern shake hands and then return to your
seat. Sit down when the speaker begins, After each topic, walk up to the
lectern and again shake hands.
• If you can, try to link what each speaker has just said to your next topic, but
without evaluating them (that’s for the Topics Evaluator to do).
• Do not comment on the how well each speaker tackles their topic, leave this
for the Topics Evaluator.
After 5 or 6 topics hand back to the Toastmaster of the Evening with the phrase: “Mr (or Madam) Toastmaster” and then hold out your hand to be shaken.
• Check key roles have arrived and that Timer has equipment including bell for word
and round robin, and knows how to use it all.
• Make sure the Timer understands that for Topics they should make a note of timings,
topic titles and speakers’ name.
• Note the names of any guests and make sure you know how to pronounce all the
names of the people you will introduce.
• Start the evening with the refrain “Mr President, Fellow Toastmasters, and welcome
• When introducing people use their complete name (remember guests do not know
these people and it can make them feel excluded if we are all on first name terms
• Try to end each introduction with a rousing, “Please welcome [FirstName Surname]!”.
• Never leave the lectern unattended, always shake hands when handing over.
Explain how the evening will work - broken into 2 halves:
• Round Robin – chance for everyone to say a few words – 30 seconds on a
theme that will be given to you.
• Table Topics – people randomly selected to speak for up to 2 minutes on a
• We ask people to vote for the best short speech, by writing on a piece of
• Table Topics Evaluation – the Round Robin and Table Topics are evaluated.
• Everything we do is timed – introduce Timekeeper. Thank Timekeeper.
• Also very keen to improve our vocabulary and make sure grammar is correct
– introduce Word and Grammarian (explains role and introduces the word
for the evening)
Then we break for tea and biscuits
Second half of the evening
• More formal prepared speeches usually taken from one of the Toastmasters
• Few words about the manual (if guests are present)
• For each speech there is an Evaluator, who will be briefed on what the
speaker will be talking about and if there are any particular improvements
that the speaker is hoping to work on.
• Introduce Topics Master, who will run the Round Robin and Table Topics
• Receive control back from Topics Master
• Ask the Timer for timings, titles and speakers names for Table Topics.
• Ask people to vote for the best Table Topics short speech; pass to (Sergeant at Arms)
• Introduce Topics Evaluator
• Receive control back Topics Evaluator
• Ask for timing of Topics Evaluator
• Introduce break – please be back in seats by … (Normally 08:30 pm)
• Make sure you have the titles and times of all speeches for the second half.
• When introducing people use their complete name.
Introduce prepared speeches.
• Introduce Evaluator for Speaker 1 and ask to speak from chair. Make clear that you,
not the evaluator, will introduce the speaker.
• Introduce speaker. “Our next speakers is [Speaker1 full name] speaking about [title];
with his/her speech [title], please welcome [Speaker1 full name] !”.
• Receive control back Speaker 1
• Ask for timings for speech1
• Ask audience to write comments for speaker
Repeat the above for each speech.
Few words to explain why speeches are evaluated and guidelines in manual.
• Introduce Evaluator1
• Introduce speakers, “Our next speakers is [Evaluator1 full name] evaluating [Speaker1 full
name]’s speech [title]; please welcome [Evaluator1 full name] !”.
• Receive control back Evaluator1
• Ask for timings for evaluation1
Repeat the above for each evaluator.
Introduce Word and Grammarian – mistakes, umms, use of the ‘word of the evening’
• Ask people to vote for best contributor.
Introduce the General Evaluator – who will feedback on evaluators and the evening.
Hand back to President for Awards and Notices