Club Meeting Roles

The success of a club meeting depends on the program participants. In Toastmasters, you learn by participating. There are many meeting roles to fill and all meeting participants play an important part in making the club experience educational and enjoyable.

Following are the roles you will be called upon to fulfill and tips for doing a good job.

List of meeting roles are:

  • Ah Counter
  • Grammarian
  • General Evaluator
  • Speaker
  • Timer
  • Speech Evaluator
  • Table Topicsmaster
  • Toastmaster
  • Hot Seat

Ah Counter: Helping members off their crutches

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.

At the meeting:

When introduced: Explain the role of the Ah-Counter.

Explain the role of the Ah-Counter.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. Stop counting at five filler words and in the report say “more than five filler words.”

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. Stop counting at five filler words and in the report say “more than five filler words.”

When you’re called on by the Toastmaster during the evaluation segment, stand by your chair and give your report.

Grammarian: The syntax sentinel

Toastmasters 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.

At the meeting:

When introduced:

  • 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.
  • Briefly, explain the role of the grammarian.

Throughout the meeting, listen to everyone’s word usage. Write down any exceptional or improper uses of the English language.

Write down who used the word of the day (or a derivative of it) and note those who used it correctly or incorrectly.

When called on by the general evaluator during the evaluation segment:

  • Stand by your chair and give your report.
  • Try to offer the correct usage in every instance of misuse (instead of merely announcing that something was wrong).
  • Report on creative language usage and announce who used the word of the day (or a derivative of it) correctly or incorrectly.

General Evaluator

Improving the process while overseeing the execution.

At the Meeting

  • Sit near the back of the room to allow yourself full view of the meeting and its participants.
  • Take notes on everything that happens (or doesn’t but should).
  • Look for good and unacceptable examples of preparation, organization, enthusiasm, delivery, observation, and general performance of duties. You are not to re-evaluate the speakers.
  • Comment on the quality of the evaluations. Did they point the way to improvement?
  • Give your report at the end of the meeting when called upon by the Toastmaster. Your report should be 2-3 minutes.

Points to consider:

  • Start/Stop on time
  • Appropriateness of inspiration
  • Table Topics: appropriate questions?
  • Evaluations: Were they positive, encouraging? Did they offer specific suggestions for improvement? Did they summarize strengths and weaknesses?
  • General: Participants’ preparation and delivery, Guests welcomed and introduced, Administrative details handled smoothly

Request the Grammarian, Ah Counter, and Timer report.


Each meeting has 1-3 prepared speeches. Speakers use the guidelines in the Competent Communication (CC) manual and the Advanced Communication Series (ACS) manuals to fully prepare their presentations. The CC manual speeches usually last 5-7 minutes. ACS manual project speeches are 5-7 minutes or longer depending upon the assignment.

Before the Meeting

  • E-mail your Toastmaster and Evaluator your speech introduction including title, length, and project number from the manual you are working from.
  • Send your Evaluator any personal goals or concerns that should be monitored in your speech.
  • Remember to bring your manual to the meeting!
  • Prepare your speech. Write it, edit, practice out loud, revise it, present to your mentor and keep practicing. Make sure to time your speech when you practice.

At the Meeting

  • Arrive early, set up any equipment or props needed
  • Give your manual to your Evaluator
  • Sit close to the front of the room
  • When you are introduced, walk confidently to the front of the room. Walk with confidence back to your seat after you have finished.
  • During your evaluation, listen intently and take notes
  • At the end of the meeting, have the VP Education initial the Project Completion Record at the back of your manual


Prepared speeches, Table Topics, and evaluations are timed. The timer will sit in front of the speakers and turn on/off a green, amber, and red lightbulb as the speaker hits each time limit.

Prepared Speeches (usually 5-7 minutes but always check with the speaker)

  • Green light – 5 minutes    Ice Breaker – 4 minutes
  • Amber light – 6 minutes   Ice Breaker – 5 minutes
  • Red light – 7 minutes       Ice Breaker – 6 minutes

Table Topics

  • Green light – 1 minute
  • Amber light – 1 1/2 minutes
  • Red light – 2 minutes

Evaluations/ General Evaluation

  • Green light – 2 minutes
  • Amber light – 2 1/2 minutes
  • Red light – 3 minutes

When asked for a report by the Toastmaster, summarize the speakers’ time.

For example “All speakers were within time”.

Speech Evaluator

Evaluate to Motivate

Several days before the meeting, review the Effective Evaluation manual you received in your New Member Kit. Talk with the speaker or leader you’ve been assigned to evaluate and find out which manual project they will present. Review the project goals and what the speaker or leader hopes to achieve.

Contact speakers several days before the meeting to ask about:

  • Speech topic and title
  • Manual and project title
  • Assignment objectives
  • Speaker’s personal objectives
  • Delivery time

You need all of these elements to create your introductions. Remember to keep the introductions between 30-60 seconds in length.

Evaluation requires careful preparation if the speaker or leader is to benefit. Study the project objectives as well as the evaluation guide in the manual. Remember, the purpose of evaluation is to help people develop their speaking or leadership skills in various situations. By actively listening, providing reinforcement for their strengths and gently offering useful advice, you motivate members to work hard and improve. When you show the way to improvement, you’ve opened the door to strengthening their ability.

When you arrive at the meeting, speak briefly with the general evaluator to confirm the evaluation session format. Then retrieve the manual from the speaker or leader and ask one last time if he or she has any specific goals in mind.

Record your impressions in the manual, along with your answers to the evaluation questions. Be as objective as possible. Remember those good evaluations may give new life to discouraged members and poor evaluations may dishearten members who tried their best. Always provide specific methods for improving and present them in a positive manner.

When you’re giving a verbal evaluation, stand and speak when introduced. Though you may have written lengthy responses to manual evaluation questions, don’t read the questions or your responses. Your verbal evaluation time is limited. Don’t try to cover too much in your talk; two or three points is plenty.

Begin and end your evaluation with a note of encouragement or praise. Commend a successful speech and describe specifically how it was successful. Don’t allow the speaker to remain unaware of a valuable asset such as a smile or a sense of humor. Likewise, don’t permit the speaker to remain ignorant of a serious fault: if it is personal, write it but don’t mention it aloud. Give the speaker or leader deserved praise and tactful suggestions in the manner you would like to receive them.

After the meeting, return the manual to the speaker. Add another word of encouragement and answer any questions the member may have.

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. And when the time comes to receive feedback, you’ll have a better understanding of the process.

Table Topicsmaster

For the Table Topics part of the meeting, 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.

Preparation is the key to leading a successful Table Topics session:

  • Several days before the meeting, check with the Toastmaster to find out if a theme meeting is scheduled. If so, prepare topics reflecting that theme.
  • Confirm who the prepared speakers, evaluators and general evaluator will be so you can call on other members at the meeting to respond first. You can call on program participants (speakers last) at the end of the topics session if time allows.
  • 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.


Remember, too, that your job is to give others a chance to speak, so keep your own comments short.

Table Topics begins after the prepared speech presentation.

When the Toastmaster introduces you, walk to the lectern and assume control of the meeting:

  • Briefly, state the purpose of Table Topics and mention any theme.
  • If your club has a word of the day, encourage speakers to use that word in their response.
  • Be certain everyone understands the maximum time they have for their response and how the timing device works (if the timer hasn’t already done so).

Then begin the program:

  • Give each speaker a different topic or question and call on speakers at random.
  • Avoid going around the room in the order in which people are sitting.
  • Don’t ask two people the same thing unless you specify that each must give opposing viewpoints.
  • State the question briefly – then call on a respondent.

Watch your total time. You may need to adjust the number of questions so your segment ends on time. Even if your portion started late, try to end on time to avoid the total meeting running overtime.

Table Topics Speaker

Table Topics is the impromptu speaking portion of the meeting.

Table Topics begins after the prepared speech presentations. The Toastmaster of the meeting will introduce the Topicsmaster who will walk to the lectern and assume control of the meeting. The Topicsmaster will give a brief description of the purpose of Table Topics and mention if the topics will carry a theme.

The Topicsmaster will state the question or topic briefly and then call on a respondent. Each speaker receives a different topic or question and participants are called on at random.

When you’re asked to respond to a topic, stand next to your chair and give your response. Your response should last one to two minutes.


You are the Emcee

The Toastmaster is a meeting’s director and host.

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.

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.

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.

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 meeting roles and ask for descriptions: Grammarian, Ah Counter, Timer, and General Evaluator

Introduce prepared Speakers

Introduce Topicsmaster

At the conclusion of the speaking program, vote for the best Table Topics.

Briefly, reintroduce the general evaluator.

At the conclusion of the speaking program, vote for the winner of the Cow Trophy. Club member that exhibited excellent speaking and/or leadership skills.

Hot Seat

It is inevitable that someone assigned a role in the meeting will have a last-minute conflict and that role will be vacated.  The Hot Seat is the person ready to fill any vacancy with little notice.

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