The main purpose of the Toastmaster role is to act as the meeting’s genial host, introducing participants and making sure everything runs to time.
The main responsibilities of the Toastmaster are:
Although a very experienced Toastmaster can run a meeting “on the fly” in most cases it is recommended to prepare your introduction in advance.
Your introduction will follow any opening words from the club’s president and should create an atmosphere of interest, expectation and attentiveness.
As a general rule of thumb, the Toastmaster’s introduction will focus on the meeting at hand, whereas the President will cover more general topics relating to the club or Toastmasters as a whole, or news or events outside the meeting itself.
There is no rigid structure for the Toastmaster’s introduction – and you are encouraged to create an introduction in your own personal style – but be sure to include:
Contact each speaker prior to the meeting in order to gather information which may be used in your introduction before their speech.
In particular, make sure you know some basic information about their Toastmasters career, e.g. how long they have been a member.
You might also want to find out some particularly interesting piece of personal information such as an unusual achievement or hobby.
Some Toastmasters will ask each speaker (and the other functionaries) to answer a simple question – for example “What is the quality you most admire in other people?” – and include their answer in their speech introduction.
Make sure to include some complimentary words to build the speaker’s confidence. Also, it can be particularly effective to give your introduction a personal touch by saying something about the speaker from your own perspective.
Obtain a copy of the meeting agenda and check with participants for any last-minute changes.
Update your own copy of the agenda with any changes, so that you can easily explain these to the audience during your introduction.
Make the General Evaluator feel welcome and thank them for taking the time to visit the club. Remember, they are giving up their time to help our club.
Find out which club they belong and make sure you know how to pronounce their name correctly!
When introduced by the President, shake his or her hand, then give your introduction, beginning with “Mr/Madam President, fellow Toastmasters and most welcome guests…”
After your introduction, point out any changes to the agenda.
Remind people to switch their mobile phones off, or at least switch them to silent.
Introduce the first functionary role – usually the Timekeeper – and lead the applause.
After the functionaries have completed their introductions, but before you introduce the first speaker, explain that each speech has a particular purpose and draw the audience’s attention to the objectives printed on the reverse of the agenda.
For each speaker:
When the speaker hands back to you:
While feedback slips are being collected for the final speaker, take the opportunity to remind all speakers to have their speech manuals completed by their respective evaluators.
Your introductions for other functionaries, such as Timekeeper, Harkmaster and Evaluators should be shorter than for the speakers.
When it comes to introducing the General Evaluator, remember that they have generously volunteered their time to help the club. Emphasise the importance of their role in your introduction and be sure to mention which club they belong to and invite audience members to visit.
After each of the Timekeeper’s timing reports – i.e. the prepared speeches report, the table topics report, and the evaluations report – ask the Timekeeper for one minute on the clock so that audience members may vote for best speaker, best table topic speaker and best evaluator respectively.
Make sure you have arranged for someone to collect voting slips. These should be given to the President for counting.
Prompt audience they will be voting shortly e.g. "So to help remind us of the names and give the timings report for the speeches please welcome back Cheryl our Timekeeper."
At the end of the first half, announce that there will be a short break for refreshments:
At the start of the second half, remind audience members to turn their phones off again, in case they switched them on during the break.
After the last functionary report (usually Grammarian or Harkmaster) remind all functionaries to have their Competent Leadership manual completed by their mentor, or other club member.