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:
You need all of these elements to create your introductions. Remember to keep the introductions between 30-60 seconds in length.
With TABLE TOPICS™, the Topicsmaster gives members who aren’t assigned a speaking role the opportunity to speak during the meeting. The Topicsmaster challenges each member with a subject, and the speaker responds with a one- to two-minute impromptu talk.
Some people underestimate the Topicsmaster role’s importance. Not only does it provide you with an opportunity to practice planning, preparation, organization, time management and facilitation skills; your preparation and topic selection help train members to quickly organize and express their thoughts in an impromptu setting.
Preparation is the key to leading a successful Table Topics session:
Remember, too, that your job is to give others a chance to speak, so keep your own comments short.
Table Topics usually begins after the prepared speech presentations, but there are variations from club to club. Ask the Toastmaster or vice president education if you’re unsure of when your portion of the meeting begins.