Meeting roles

Meeting presider

The meeting presider opens the meeting with the gavel and some topical comment, then welcomes members and guests, announces briefly results of important events (e.g., contest winners, officer elections), and introduces the toastmaster of the evening. At the end of the meeting prior to closing and if necessary, the meeting presider calls attention to upcoming events and discusses club business. Then he/she closes the meeting and invites people to stay longer and chat over some food and drinks. The club president holds the meeting presider role. If the club president is absent, the vice president education replaces him/her, followed by the vice president public relations and the vice president membership. If none of the officers are present, the toastmaster may fill him/herself the role of meeting presider.


The toastmaster organizes and chairs the meeting.

Prior to the meeting the toastmaster assigns the meeting roles ensuring that selected members can attend, understand the duties of their role and have sufficient experience to exercise the role. As a guideline, supporting roles (ah-counter, grammarian, timekeeper, trophy master, video camera operator) require little experience, whereas the table topic master, the general evaluator and evaluators benefit from active participation in past meetings. Ideally, evaluators have given at least three speeches themselves before evaluating speeches, and are more advanced speakers than the members they are evaluating. Once speakers and evaluators confirmed their attendance, the toastmaster puts each speaker-evaluator pair in contact. The toastmaster sends out the meeting agenda to all members several days before the meeting, and ideally an additional reminder on the day before the meeting. He/she prints out the meeting agenda for all the present members and possible guests. The toastmaster may use the External link easy-speak meeting planner to help him/her organize the meeting, recruit volunteers for roles, and inform members of the meeting agenda.

On the meeting day, when called by the meeting presider, the toastmaster welcomes members and guests, presents the meeting agenda and structure and explains the function of supporting roles or requests the assigned members to explain their role. Next, for each speaker, the toastmaster introduces the speaker, asks the assigned evaluator to present the speech objectives and calls the speaker on stage. After all speakers spoke the toastmaster request the timer report and asks members to vote for the best speaker among all qualified speakers. After voting, the toastmaster introduces the table topics master, who handles the table topics session. After the table topics session, the toastmaster either proceeds with the evaluation session, or, in case of an agreement with the general evaluator, lets the general evaluator chair the session and resumes control after it. If the toastmaster chairs the evaluation session, he/she starts by briefly explaining the purpose of evaluations, and then introduces the assigned evaluator of each speaker. After all evaluators spoke the toastmaster requests the timer report and asks members to vote for the best evaluator among all qualified evaluators. Next, the toastmaster calls the general evaluator on stage. After the general evaluation, the toastmaster asks the reports of the grammarian and ah-counter, calls the trophy master on stage, and after that offers his/her closing comments and returns control to the meeting presider. External link Read more on TMI website

After the meeting, the toastmaster updates the data of the meeting on easySpeak (actual participants of the meeting, roletakers, word of the day, and award results).


The speaker presents a prepared speech from either the Competent Communicator Manual (CC), from one of the Avanced Communication Series, or gives an educational talk from one of the Leadership manuals. Except for intentional impromptu speeches, the speaker prepares in advance his/her speech based on the guidelines of the manual and feedback received in the past. The speaker may consult his/her mentor for help and advice concerning the preparation and delivery of the speech. The speaker informs his/her assigned evaluator concerning specific aspects he/she wishes the evaluator to focus on during the speech delivery. On the meeting day when called by the toastmaster the speaker comes on stage and delivers his/her speech. External link Read more on TMI website

Speech Evaluator

The speech evaluator highlights strong points of a speech and gives recommendations for future improvements. Prior to the meeting the evaluator familiarizes his/herself with the project to be evaluated and contacts the speaker to find out whether there are specific aspects he/she would like the evaluator to pay attention to during the speech. Before the speech, when called by the toastmaster, the evaluator briefly explains the objectives of the speech, and if the project differs from the usual speech format briefly explains the nature of the project (e.g. facilitating discussion projects, interpretive reading projects, etc.). During the speech the evaluator listens carefully and takes notes on good points and on aspects to improve. When called by the toastmaster or general evaluator, the evaluator presents his/her feedback to the audience and the speaker taking care to give constructive feedback that is both analytical and motivating. External link Read more on TMI website

Table Topics Master

The table topics master (TTM) challenges the members and guests with impromptu presentations on topics of his/her choice. Prior to the meeting, the TTM prepares a list of four to eight questions on a topic of his/her choice. The number of questions should be adapted to the length of the meeting, with only a few questions if there are three or more prepared speakers, and many questions if there is only one or no prepared speaker. The questions should be short and easy to understand, and the TTM should avoid topics that can cause discomfort among members and guests.
During the meeting the TTM begins the table topics section by explaining table topics for guests if the toastmaster has not done so yet. Then he/she briefly explains the chosen topic and reminds the members that they can interpret a question any way they want. Guests are welcome to participate in table topics but are free to decline, whereas members are expected to participate. The TTM randomly selects a speaker among the audience either by drawing from little papers with names, or by choosing him/herself a speaker. When choosing speakers, the TTM should preferentially choose members who do not have a scheduled role in the meeting. The goal is to encourage each present member to speak at least once during the meeting.
After the TTM has finished asking questions, he/she consults the timekeeper to find out whether all speakers were in time and are qualified for the best table topics award. The TTM then gives a short summary of who spoke on what question and asks members to vote for the best table topics speaker. External link Read more on TMI website

General Evaluator

The general evaluator (GE) assesses the quality and fluidity of the entire meeting from the opening by the toastmaster to the speech evaluations of the evaluators. When called by the toastmaster the GE provides his/her feedback and recommendations for improvement on the performance of the toastmasters, the table topics master and respondents, the speech evaluators, grammarian, timer, ah-counter and trophy-master. The GE can also give additional feedback to the speakers, but should keep it to a minimum because speakers were already evaluated, whereas other roles were not evaluated.
In agreement with the toastmaster, the GE may also lead the evaluation session. In this case, the GE receives the chair from the toastmaster after the table topics, and proceeds by introducing the evaluation session and the speech evaluators before giving his/her feedback on the meeting. After his/her evaluation the GE requests the reports of the grammarian and ah-counter, and then returns the chair to the toastmaster. External link Read more on TMI website


The meeting’s timekeeper records the speech duration of speakers, table topics respondents, evaluators and of the general evaluator. He/she signals the minimum duration by a green card, the time to conclude by a yellow card, the time to stop by a red card and rings the bell at the end of the grace period. The grace period is 30 seconds for speakers and evaluators and 15 seconds for table topics respondents. After each section, when called by the toastmaster or table topics master or general evaluator, the timekeeper reports how much time each participant took to give his or her presentation. External link Read more on TMI website


The grammarian selects a word of the day and explains its meaning and usage when called by the toastmaster of the evening. During the meeting, the grammarian notes mispronunciations and mistakes in grammar, keeps note of who uses the word of the day and also points out positive uses of language, including nice turns of phrase, clever formulations, and especially poetic or otherwise exceptional uses of language. At the end of the meetings the grammarian gives a short report on the grammar, pronunciation and English use during the meeting. External link Read more on TMI website

Ah Counter

The ah-counter keeps track of filler words and audible pauses such as “ah”, “er”, “um”, “euh”, “well”, “like” and “you know”, etc. These hesitations are also called embolalia, and often occur in speeches when the cognitive load of the speaker is high. The Ah-counter also keeps track of unintended repetitions of words (e.g. “I did… I did”), sometimes called “double clutching”. External link Read more on TMI website

Trophy Master

The trophy master collects the ballots after each section of the meeting, counts the votes, and announces the winners at the end of the meeting. In the rare event of a tie between two speakers during the ballot counting, the trophy master can break the tie and decide on the winner.

Video Camera Operator

The video camera operator films the speakers, the table topics respondants, the evaluators and the general evaluator. He/she asks at the beginning of the meeting whether everybody agrees to be filmed. To simplify the upload, films should be separated for each speaker.