Role Descriptions

At each Toastmasters meeting most every attendee has a role to play.  This gives members experience speaking to the group.  Performing a role not only gives the participant experience, but you learn the important concepts of speaking clearly by concentrating on the roles.

For example, when you do the ah-counter role, you learn to listen to the filler words that people use.  Words like “Ah”,  “Um”, “basically”, “OK”, false starts, long sentences connected together with “ands” and “So’s”

New members normally shadow experienced members in all their roles so they can learn and put to practice the skills and techniques that make for a successful meeting. Maria Pedro Vicente had watched other members present the word of the day in various meetings before she took on the introduction of “amalgam” as a word for members to incorporate in their speeches during this meeting.


The following is an amalgam, a combination of diverse elements, the various roles in alphabetical order: Ah– Counter, Evaluator, General Evaluator, Grammarian, Greeter, Speaker, Table Topics Master, Timer, Toastmaster, Wordmaster

 The Ah Counter is to note words and sounds used as “crutch” words or fillers by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Words may be inappropriate interjections such as “and, well, but, so, you know.” Sounds may be “ah, uh, er.” You should also note when a speaker repeats a word or phrase such as “I, I” when repetition is not called for. Note if there are false starts and if there are tongue clicks. Also note if there is a long pause, as for a memory lapse.

Prior to the meeting — Prepare a brief explanation of the duties of the Ah Counter for the benefit of guests. You may copy the Ah-Counter Tally Sheet. You can print it from here. Ah-Counter Tally Sheet

During the meeting — When introduced prior to Table Topics, explain the role of the Ah Counter. Please limit your explanation to about 15 seconds. Give an auditory signal for EACH AND EVERY ah, um, “filler word” or long pause during the meeting. Start at the very beginning of the meeting and continue through to the very end. Try not to miss a single Ah! Consistency is important.

The only exceptions are: Visitors, Ice Breaker speeches, Speeches where the speaker has requested to have no auditory signals (In this case, still count and report on the number of filler words.)

The Evaluator

The EVALUATOR will evaluate one of the prepared speakers for the meeting. In addition to your oral evaluation, you will give the speaker a written evaluation using the guide in the manual. The evaluation you present can make the difference between a worthwhile or a wasted speech for your speaker. The purpose of the evaluation is to help the speaker become less self-conscious and a better speaker. This requires that you be fully aware of the speaker’s skill level, habits, and mannerisms, as well as his or her progress to date. If the speaker uses a technique or some gesture that receives a good response from the audience, tell the speaker so he or she will be encouraged to use it again.

Prior to the meeting — Review carefully the Effective Speech Evaluation manual which you received in your New Member Kit. Talk with the speaker to find out the manual project he or she will be presenting. Review the goals of the speech and what the speaker hopes to achieve. Find out exactly which skills or techniques the speaker hopes to strengthen through the speech. Evaluation requires careful preparation if the speaker is to benefit. Study the project objectives as well as the evaluation guide in the manual. Remember, the purpose of evaluation is to help people develop their speaking skills in various situations, including platform presentations, discussions, and meetings. Achievement equals the sum of ability and motivation. By actively listening and gently offering useful advice, you motivate members to work hard and improve. If the speech is from an advanced manual, rather than the basic Competent Communicator manual, the speaker will have to describe the goals to you.

When you enter the meeting room — Look for the speaker and get his or her manual. Then confer with the speaker one last time to see if he or she has any specific things for you to watch for during the talk. During the meeting — Record your impressions of the speech in the manual along with your answers to the evaluation questions. Be as objective as possible. Remember that good evaluations may give new life to discouraged members, and poor evaluations may dishearten members who tried their best. Remember, always leave the speaker with specific methods for improving. When introduced, come to the lectern and give your oral evaluation. Begin and end your evaluation with a note of encouragement or praise. Though you may have written lengthy responses to manual evaluation questions, don’t read the questions or your responses. Your oral evaluation time is limited. Don’t try to cover too much in your talk — possibly one point on organization, one on delivery and one on attainment of purpose with a statement about the greatest asset and a suggestion for future improvement. Praise a successful speech and specifically tell why it was successful. Don’t allow the speaker to remain unaware of a valuable asset such as a smile, a sense of humor or a good voice. Don’t allow the speaker to remain ignorant of a serious fault or mannerism; if it is personal, write it or discuss it privately, but don’t mention it aloud to the group. Give the speaker the deserved praise and tactful suggestions in the manner you would like to receive them when you are the speaker.

After the meeting — Return the manual to the speaker. Add a verbal word of encouragement to the speaker, something that wasn’t mentioned in the oral evaluation.


The General Evaluator is just what the name implies – an evaluator who assesses how, in general, the meeting went. The responsibilities of the General Evaluator are great, but so are the rewards.

The General Evaluator should act as a positive force during the meeting. He/She should provide comments and assessments in a manner that helps his/her fellow Toastmasters develop their speaking skills. He should make his/her observations in a way that builds, or at least preserves, the speakers’ self-esteem. Although he/she needs to make the meeting’s participants aware of their weaknesses and bad habits, he/she cannot dwell on those things; he also has to draw their attention to their strengths and good habits.

Upon arrival at the meeting — Sit near the back of the room to allow yourself full view of the meeting and its participants.

During the meeting —Take notes on everything good and bad that happens before and, especially, during the meeting.

Did the Sergeant at Arms have everything set up before the meeting began?

Was a greeter present to welcome members and guests?

Did everybody arrive on time?

How well did the Toastmaster lead the meeting?

Did the eyes and ears team do what it was supposed to do?

Was there anything special about what the Joke Master and/or the Word Master did or did not do?

Can you comment on the contributions of the Table Topics Evaluator; was there something he or she did exceptionally well? Anything that could be improved?

Can you comment on the quality of the speech evaluations? Were they upbeat? Did they provide advice that the speakers could use to improve their speaking abilities? Did they miss anything in their evaluations? Remember that you do not have to comment on all of them and that you should not reevaluate the main speakers. Try to give specifics rather than generalities. Look for good and less than desirable examples of preparation, organization, delivery, enthusiasm, observation skills, and the participants’ general performance of their duties.

Wrap up you general evaluation of the meeting by saying something positive.


Being grammarian is truly an exercise in expanding your listening skills. Your basic responsibility is to comment on the use of English during the course of the meeting. Prepare a brief explanation of the duties of the grammarian for the benefit of the guests.

Upon being introduced as the grammarian – Get a blank piece of paper and pen ready on which to make notes.

During the meeting — When introduced, briefly explain the role of the grammarian. Please limit your explanation to about 15 seconds.

Throughout the meeting — Write down the names of all the Toastmaster members at the meeting who will have roles that require them to do some speaking (Toastmaster, members of the eyes and ears team, Word Master, Joke Master, speakers working on projects in the manuals, Table Topics Master, Table Topics speakers, speech evaluators, general evaluator).

Listen to them during the meeting and next to their names write down any awkward use or misuse of the language incomplete sentences, sentences that change direction in midstream, incorrect grammar, malapropisms, wrong pronunciation, etc.) and instances when they use the English language creatively.


Arrive at least 10 minutes early to help set up the Greeter’s table.

Materials kept in blue bin

Guest Sign-In sheet

Name Tags and red pen (for guests)


Packets for Guests (includes brochure, magazine & application)

Timer’s Kit

Ah Counter’s Bell or Clicker

Brief Evaluation sheets

Agenda of the Day (from Toastmaster)

Members’ Name Tags

Stay by the Greeter’s table to welcome guests and members. Ask guests to fill out the contact information sheet and to make a name tag. Give them a guest packet. If possible, introduce the guest to other members and ask someone to sit with them. Write the guests’ names and give to the President prior to the meeting, so the guest can be introduced.

Remember to sit near the guest table so that you can welcome late-arriving guests. Help put away materials after the meeting.

JOKEMASTER   This site gives examples of clean jokes, but there are many other sites available.    The key is often to personalize the joke, to make it seem like the humorous incident happened to you.  This can be a short story, a set of similar shorter stories, a riddle, etc.  It is to start off the meeting in a light sort of way, with some laughter, in one to two and a half minutes.



A major portion of each meeting is centered around two or three speakers. Their speeches are prepared based on assignments in the basic Communication Program or advanced Communication Program manuals. Preparation is essential to success when you are the speaker.

Prior to the meeting — Check the meeting schedule to find out when you are to speak. In order to get the most benefits from the program, prepare a speech based on a manual project. Present the speeches in numerical order because each project builds on the skills learned in previous projects.

Before your meeting speak to your evaluator and talk about the manual speech you’ll be giving. Discuss with the evaluator your speech goals and personal concerns. Emphasize where you feel your speech ability needs strengthening. Remember to bring your manual to the meeting.

Write your own speech introduction and email it or give it to the Toastmaster before the meeting.

When you enter the room — Arrive early. Check the microphone, lighting, etc. before everyone arrives. Protect yourself as much as possible from the problems that could disrupt your talk. Sit near the front of the room for quick and easy access to the lectern. Carefully plan your approach to the lectern and speech opening. Be sure that you give your manual to your evaluator before the meeting starts. If you don’t write your own speech introduction, make certain that the Toastmaster of the meeting has prepared a good one for you.

During the meeting — Give your full attention to the speakers at the lectern. Avoid studying your speech notes while someone else is talking. When introduced, smoothly leave your chair and walk to the lectern as planned. As you begin your speech, acknowledge the Toastmaster and the audience (Toastmasters and guests). When finishing your speech, wait for the Toastmaster to return to the lectern, then return to your seat.

During the evaluation of your speech, listen intently for helpful hints that will assist in building better future talks. Pay attention to suggestions from other members.

After the meeting — Get your manual from your evaluator. At this time discuss any questions you may have concerning your evaluation to clarify any misinterpretations. Have the Vice President Education (or other current club officer if you are the Vice President Education) initial the Project Completion Record in the back of your manual.


A goal for each Toastmasters meeting is that every member should have an opportunity to speak. Table Topics is that segment of the meeting which assists in reaching this goal. The special feature of this segment is that participants must “think on their feet” and extemporaneously speak for one-to-two minutes.

Participation in Table Topics helps participants develop poise and confidence. As Table Topics Master, you prepare and issue the topic or question that serves as a basis for each of these mini-speeches.

Preparation In advance of the meeting: Check with the meeting Toastmaster (TM) to find out if a meeting theme is planned and also approximately how many minutes the Table Topics (TT) segment is allotted in the meeting agenda. Prepare topics/questions consistent with the theme and enough of them to fill the allotted time (use 1 ½ minutes per participant) plus one or two extras.

If no theme is planned by the TM, choose topics as desired. When choosing your specific questions or topics, select ones that will inspire the speakers to expound on their opinions. Don’t make the questions difficult, too long or complicated. Phrase them in such a way that the participant will easily know what you want them to talk about. The idea is not to “stump the chump”, but to enable the participant to think and communicate in the form of a brief speech.

Preparation at the meeting: There are two tasks:

(1) Just before the meeting, check with the TM to confirm that the allotted time for TT segment still holds. In the unlikely event of a last-minute cancelation by a scheduled speaker, the TM may need the TT segment to stretch for a longer period. In this case, you will likely need to prepare a few additional topics/questions prior to the beginning of the TT segment.

(2) As the meeting begins, make note of attendees who do not have assigned roles. Select these as your first TT participants. If additional participants are needed to fill the allotted time, select those attendees who have had roles that have been completed such as the Greeter and the Joke Master. Lastly, select from the Eyes and Ears team. Avoid calling on the Toastmaster, scheduled Speakers or Evaluators.

Table Topics Segment: After your introduction by the TM, state the purpose of the session and set the stage for your topics program. Keep these remarks, as well as the statement of each topic/question, brief but enthusiastic. First state the topic/question and then call on a respondent. This order accomplishes two purposes: it holds everyone’s attention, and it adds to the training value of the impromptu element by giving everyone an opportunity to improve listening and creative thinking skills. Don’t call on the person first, and then tell them the topic.

Use proper lectern/”floor” etiquette: do not leave the lectern/”floor” unattended and transition with each participant with a handshake. Remind each participant to use the Word-of-the-Day.

Once into the sequence of participants, be attentive to the TM for a signal indicating the final topic/question for the segment. Upon its completion, welcome the TM back to the lectern.

timer (1)

Timer for 8-26-15, Jackier Branscum, shows use of the “stoplight” for signaling the green minimum or the red maximum for different speeches


Responsibilities: To time, record, signal and report on the time used by Speakers, Table Topic Speakers, written evaluations, Evaluators, and the General Evaluator

Materials: Stopwatch Instruction sheet in the kit Green, Yellow and Red signal cards (Have an empty chair beside you to hold materials (since we are not at tables).

Time Limits Speeches: If it is the 4-6 minute Ice Breaker: light Green at 4-minutes Yellow at 5-minutes Red at 6- minutes~ Record actual time. If it is a regular 5-7 minute speech: light Green at 5 Yellow at 6 Red at 7 ~ Record actual time.

Advanced speeches for experienced Toastmasters vary in time. Speakers who need a different amount of time than the above time limits should let the Timer know in advance of the meeting. It the Timer is not sure of requirements, ask speakers before the meeting about their time limits and exactly when they would like the color signal lights. Note that speakers are allowed + or – 30 seconds “grace period.”* If a speaker goes over the grace period, wave the red card until the speaker stops.

We are allowing 1 ½ minutes for written evaluations after each speech. Signal the Toastmaster when this time is up.

Table Topics Speakers: Green at 1:00 Yellow at 1:30 Red at 2:00 ~ Record actual time. Note that TT speakers are allowed + / – 15 seconds grace period.* If a speaker goes over the grace period, wave the red card until the speaker stops.

Speech Evaluators : Green at 2:00 Yellow at 2:30 Red at 3:00 ~ Record actual time. Note that Evaluators are allowed + / – 15 seconds grace period. * If a speaker goes over the grace period, wave the red card until the speaker stops.

General Evaluator: Green at 3:00 Yellow at 3:30 Red at 4:00 ~ Record actual time. * If a speaker goes over the grace period, wave the red card until the speaker stops.


The main duty of the Toastmaster is to act as a genial host and conduct the entire program, including introducing participants. If the Toastmaster does not perform the duties well, an entire meeting can end in failure. For obvious reasons this task is not usually assigned to a member until he or she is familiar with the club and its procedures, after at least three speeches. Program participants should be introduced in a way that excites the audience and motivates each member to listen. The Toastmaster creates an atmosphere of interest, expectation and receptivity.

Prior to the meeting — Email each of the program participants to remind them of their assigned role, and get assurance that they will attend and perform their role.

Call or email each speaker in advance to get a copy of their introduction. You should copy and paste the introduction into the agenda that you will prepare. The speaker’s introduction should include the speech title, manual’s project number, purpose to be achieved, and the time allowed in the project.

Some speakers will request a longer speaking time. Perhaps, for example, the project specifies 5 to 7 minutes, but the speaker may want 8 to 10 minutes. As a general rule, they will not be allowed the extra time. They need to learn to fit their speech into the time allowed for the project.

Create the Agenda –Once you have edited the template with the current date, Theme, and the names of the people assuming the roles, print about thirty copies of the agenda. Remember to adjust the times to fit the roles. Bring the copies of the agenda to the meeting so that each attendee will have a copy. (Use the Agenda Template)

Prepare remarks which can be used to bridge the gaps between program segments. You may never use them, but you should be prepared to avoid possibly awkward periods of silence. You may have a theme assigned, or you may choose one of your own, although this is not necessary. If there is a theme, suggest that the Table Topics Master and Word Master use the theme if possible.

Remember that performing as Toastmaster is one of the most valuable experiences in your club work. The assignment requires careful preparation in order to have a smoothly run meeting.

At the meeting — Arrive early in order to finish any last-minute details. Check with the speakers for any last-minute changes. Remember as toastmaster, you are in charge. Ask for help if you need it. Sit near the front of the room and have your speakers do likewise for quick and easy access to the lectern. Check to make sure that the people who are assigned roles actually show up. If they don’t show up to the meeting at all, or on time, you will need to replace them, if possible with someone else.

For example, if the grammarian doesn’t come to the meeting, or is late, you should assign that role to someone else who is there at the meeting. This isn’t done if the person who doesn’t show, has a formal speech role.

During the meeting — Preside with sincerity, energy and decisiveness. Take your audience on a pleasant journey and make them feel that all is going well. Make adjustments if needed during the meeting to end the segments on time.

Always lead the applause before and after the Table Topics session, each prepared speaker, and the General Evaluator. Remain standing near the lectern after your introduction until the speaker has acknowledged you and assumes control of the meeting; then be seated.


Your role is to do everything involved with the Word of the Day. In letters large enough to be seen from the back of the room, please make two copies of the word. In the printed copies, show the word’s part of speech, (adjective, adverb, noun, etc., and a brief definition.)

Tape one to the lectern, preferably before the meeting starts, and one on a chair toward the back of the audience, so that Table Topics participants can see it from the front of the room.

Prior to the meeting — Select a “Word of the Day”.. It should be a word that will help members increase their vocabulary — a word that can be incorporated easily into everyday conversation but is different from the way people usually express themselves. An adjective or adverb is suggested since each is more adaptable than a noun or verb, but feel free to select your own special word.

NOTE: Please do choose a word that easily fits into everyday conversation. The idea is not to stump the members, but to choose a word that any member might add to his vocabulary. Prepare a sentence showing how the word is used.

During the meeting — When introduced, announce the “Word of the Day:’ state its part of speech, define it, use it in a sentence, and ask that anyone speaking during any part of the meeting use it.. Please limit your explanation to about 15 seconds.

Throughout the meeting —Write down who used the “Word of the Day” (or a derivative of it) and note if anyone used it correctly.

When called on during the evaluation segment, stand by your chair and give your report, announcing who used the “Word of the Day” (or a derivative of it) correctly or incorrectly. Diplomatically point out if the member used the word, but pronounced it incorrectly, or misunderstood the meaning.