Remember when you took the Pledge to be a full participant in your local Toastmasters Club? Perhaps you even recited the “Toastmasters Promise” if not required to also sing your club’s favorite song! One of those commitments was to “prepare for and fulfill meeting assignments”.
Last week I served as the Carrollwood Toastmasters Club #5083 Toastmaster of the Evening, an open role I filled just two days before our Wednesday evening meeting. I suggested that newer members and other members who have never taken on this role give it a try! I told my club that the Toastmaster just needs to choose a theme and the pick a Word of the Day to go with it! I know that’s an oversimplification. Newer members can touch base with their Mentors to feel more confident in serving as Emcee of the meeting.
The main purpose of the Toastmaster role is to act as the meeting’s genial host, introducing participants and making sure everything runs on time. The main responsibility of the Toastmaster is To give an introduction which sets the tone for the meeting. The club president or presiding officer introduces the Toastmaster at the beginning of the meeting so it’s good to send her/him your Introduction before the meeting (always bring a printed copy just in case!) Your Introduction should include a link to why you chose your Meeting Theme or Topic.
The Toastmaster selects the theme of the day. Choose a theme that will let the people’s imagination roam. Contact each speaker to remind them they are delivering a speech. Interview them to find out something interesting which you can use when introducing them hopefully along with the theme. For example if you chose your theme from This Day In History and it’s National First Love Day on September 18th include a sentence or two on the speaker’s first love! Make sure you know their Manual and project number, Title of the speech, Time allotted and Speech objectives.
Participants ought to be introduced in a way that excites the audience and motivates them to listen. The Toastmaster creates an atmosphere of interest, expectation, and receptivity.
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 or if you really like coloring outside the lines and challenging yourself. Ask your Mentor or the club’s Vice President of Education (VPE) for pointers well before the meeting.
Before the Meeting
Begin preparing for your role several days in advance. You can use the Toastmaster’s Check List at Toastmasters International’s website 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. Some clubs have printed agendas for all participants while others use a white board. Oftentimes the individual times are posted to your club’s website.
As the Toastmaster, you’ll introduce each speaker. If a speaker does not write his or her own introduction, you will have to use your creativity to write a very brief one. Introductions must be brief and carefully planned. Contact speakers several days before the meeting to ask about:
Speech topic and title Manual and project title
Speaker’s personal objectives
You need all of these elements to create your introductions. Remember to keep the introductions between 60-90 seconds in length.
Think about how you want to welcome participants and attendees, and how you want to close out the meeting. Usually if you award ribbons the Toastmaster will unveil the names of the winners; (check if any ties) Best Topic winner, Best Speech winner, Best Evaluation winner. If there are Only Two in each category then you’re club is picking the “Better”.
For more information about introductions see When You’re the Introducer (Item 1167E), Introducing the Speaker (Item 111) and The Better Speaker Series module creating an Introduction (Item 277)
Of course, you want to avoid awkward interruptions or gaps in meeting flow so your last preparation step before the meeting is to plan remarks you can use to make smooth transitions from one portion of the program to another. You may not need them, but you should be prepared for the possibility of awkward periods of silence.
The Day of the Meeting: “The Big Show”
On meeting day, show up early. You’ll need time to make sure the stage is set for a successful meeting. To start, check with each speaker as they arrive to see if they have made any last-minute changes to their speeches – such as changing the title.
You and the speakers will need quick and easy access to the lectern. Direct the speakers to sit near the front of the room and make sure they leave a seat open for you near the front.
When it’s time to start the program, the club president calls the meeting to order. Sometimes he or she will make announcements, introduce guests or conduct other club business before introducing you. When you’re introduced, the president will wait until you arrive at the lectern before being seated. (This is why you should sit at the front of the room.)
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. You introduce the Table Topics Master. At the conclusion of the speaking program, request the timer’s report and vote for the best Table Topics.
Double-check pronunciation. Pay close attention to time. Lead the applause.
Some Famous Toastmasters
Some well-known people from various fields have been Toastmasters. These include:
Tim Allen – Actor, star of television series, “Home Improvement”
Everett Alvarez – American POW during the Vietnam War; former Deputy Director of the Peace Corps and Veterans Administration
James Brady – Two-term press secretary for U.S. President Ronald Reagan; author of the Brady Bill,
Nancy Brinker – Founder of the Susan G. Komen Breast Cancer Foundation; former U.S. Ambassador to Hungary
Peter Coors – Chairman of Coors Brewing Company
Debbie Fields Rose – Founder, Mrs. Fields Cookies
Napoleon Hill – Best-selling author of “Think and Grow Rich;” presidential advisor
K.C. Jones – Former basketball coach for NBA team, Boston Celtics
Linda Lingle – Former Republican Governor of Hawaii
James Lovell – Former U.S. astronaut; missions included Apollo 13
Chris Matthews – Author and host on MSNBC’s “Hardball with Chris Matthews”
Leonard Nimoy – Was Actor and star of television series “Star Trek”
Walter Schirra – Late former U.S. astronaut; Flew in three space programs, Mercury, Gemini and Apollo