Can you imagine a chapter meeting without a Toastmaster of the Evening to guide us through the programme? Or a chapter meeting with no food during the break because there is no Sergeant-At-Arms? Or even a chapter meeting without evaluators to evaluate the speakers? Indeed, a Toastmaster chapter meeting cannot possibly run smoothly without the appointment holders.
The different appointment roles that play a role in a chapter meeting are as listed below. Please refer to the Toastmasters website for a more detailed guide: http://www.toastmasters.org/Members/MemberExperience/MeetingRoles.aspx.
The purpose of the Ah-Counter is to note any word or sound used as a crutch by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Words may be inappropriate interjections, such as and, well, but, so and you know. Sounds may be ah, um or er. You should also note when a speaker repeats a word or phrase such as “I, I” or “This means, this means.” These words and sounds can be annoying to listeners. The Ah-Counter role is an excellent opportunity to practice your listening skills.
Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone for sounds and long pauses used as fillers and not as a necessary part of sentence structure. Write down how many filler sounds or words each person used during all portions of the meeting. When you’re called on by the general evaluator during the evaluation segment, stand by your chair and give your report.
People join Toastmasters to improve their speaking and leadership skills, and these skills are improved with the help of evaluations. Members complete projects in the “Competent Communication” and “Competent Leadership” manuals and you may be asked to evaluate their work. You will provide both verbal and written evaluations for speakers using the guide in the manual and a written evaluation for leadership roles. By giving feedback, you are personally contributing to your fellow members’ improvement. Preparing and presenting evaluations is also an opportunity for you to practice your listening, critical thinking, feedback and motivation skills.
Study the project objectives as well as the evaluation guide in the manual. Record your impressions in the manual, along with your answers to the evaluation questions. If you’re giving a verbal evaluation, stand and speak when introduced. After the meeting, return the manual to the speaker or leader. Add another word of encouragement and answer any questions the member may have.
Being general evaluator is a big responsibility and it is integral to the success of every single club member. People join Toastmasters because they have a goal – they want to learn something. The club is where they learn. If the learning environment isn’t focused and fun, members won’t learn what they joined to learn. Your observations and suggestions help ensure the club is meeting the goals and needs of each member.
During the meeting, use your checklist and take notes on everything that happens (or doesn’t, but should). For example: Is the club’s property (e.g. trophies, banner, educational material) properly displayed? Were there unnecessary distractions that could have been avoided? Did the meeting, and each segment of it, begin and end on time? Study each participant on the program, from the person giving the invocation or thought for the day to the last report by the timer. Look for good and less than desirable examples of preparation, organization, delivery, enthusiasm, observation and general performance of duties.
One benefit of Toastmasters is that it helps people improve their grammar and word use. Being grammarian also provides an exercise in expanding listening skills. You have several responsibilities: to introduce new words to members, to comment on language usage during the course of the meeting, and to provide examples of eloquence.
Before the meeting, select a “word of the day” 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. During the meeting, 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. Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone’s word usage. Write down any awkward use or misuse of the language. Also take note who used the word of the day (or a derivative of it) and note those who used it correctly or incorrectly.
One of the skills Toastmasters practice is expressing a thought within a specific time. As timer you are responsible for monitoring time for each meeting segment and each speaker. You’ll also operate the timing signal, indicating to each speaker how long he or she has been talking.
Throughout the meeting, listen carefully to each program participant and signal them. Generally, Table Topics speakers should be +/- 15 seconds of allowed time; prepared speakers must be +/- 30 seconds. In addition, signal the chairman, Toastmaster and Topicsmaster with red when they have reached their allotted or agreed-upon time. Record each participant’s name and time used. When you’re called to report by the Topicsmaster, Toastmaster or general evaluator, announce the speaker’s name and the time taken. Mention those members who are eligible for awards.
The Toastmaster is a meeting’s director and host. Serving as Toastmaster is an excellent way to practice many valuable skills as you strive to make the meeting one of the club’s best. Preparation is key to your success.
Pay attention to the time. You are responsible for beginning and ending the meeting on time. You may have to adjust the schedule during the meeting to accomplish this. Make sure each meeting segment adheres to the schedule. Introduce each speaker and appointment role for the different segments.
TABLE TOPICS MASTER
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. This role provides 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.
Select subjects and questions that allow speakers to offer opinions. Don’t make the questions too long or complicated and make sure they don’t require specialized knowledge. Phrase questions so the speakers clearly understand what you want them to talk about. Give each speaker a different topic or question and call on speakers at random.