Being a toastmaster means more than giving speeches and the occasional evaluation. These meetings don’t happen by themselves, you know. Club meeting roles are important.
Club Meeting Roles
If you’ve attended a meeting, you know there’s a Toastmaster of the day – a ringleader or MC who manages part or all of the meeting.
There’s a table topics leader who poses the prompt for the impromptu speeches – and who may call for votes to be sent in to pick a winner.
The general evaluator might lead the 2nd portion of the meeting – the evaluation section. This person may call up the speech evaluators, the grammarian and ah-counter and the timer to give reports on how well the club meeting was handled. This is handled in different ways within clubs – be aware of how your club manages these reports.
All of these roles are important for you to take – even if you don’t think you’re ready to do it.
Mastering Club Meeting Roles
Do you know the value of taking these club meeting roles?
Do you struggle with nerves? Stage fright?
We’ve talked a bit about stage fright in previous episodes, but this isn’t just stage fright. This is the pressure you feel when you’re expected not just to give a speech, but to perform a task at the same time.
This is a whole nother level of public speaking. And honestly, this can be the fun part of the club meeting.
Each of these roles does require the member to stand up and speak without much prep. It requires you to listen to the other speakers, to pay attention to the nuances of the meeting, and to be aware of how you fit into the whole of the meeting. Not to make you more stressed, but the club meeting roles are important for the meeting and for you to learn how to function better in a team role. When you learn how to make those fun, you’re improving the club experience for everyone.
How do you do that?
Table Topics, Timer, Grammarian Fun
If you’re table topics leader – find fun topics. Don’t default to the usual questions you’ll find on the Internet. Instead of asking about what would people do, try these instead.
- Give them a pair of sunglasses and tell them that they give the speaker superpowers – What superpower do they have? Would they use it for good?
- Give them a box with a random household item to open and challenge them to tell the members if it’s a birthday gift or a murder weapon – and who they’re going to give it to?
- Pick up a couple of color sample cards from the hardware store and ask people to describe the room they might paint that color.
If you’re the timer, relate the times that a person used to the topic of their speech. If I heard a speech about flying, I might say, “Chris’s speech flew past us in 7 minutes even.”
Grammarian has the easiest job to make fun. By focusing the most on the great uses of language, you can also make some puns – such as “sewing circle” for the people who abuse the word “so” or “You know how many times we used ‘you know’ in today’s club meeting?”
The fun in a meeting isn’t just the job of the joke master!
Club Meeting Roles Recordkeeping
I should use this time to also introduce you to the Level 3 requirement of filling certain club meeting roles. This sneaks up on you – I know a lot of Toastmasters who didn’t realize they needed to keep track of their club meeting roles.
It’s also sneaky where Toastmasters International hid the recordkeeping page. So let’s take a look at it. Go to the basecamp page (yes, log in) and at the top right of the screen, you’ll see a small button with a gear on it. You might think that these are settings… well, yes, you’re going to the My Account page. Scroll down a bit and you’ll see all of the club roles listed. All you have to do is go to the club meeting role you filled and enter the date. Be sure to scroll to the bottom of the page and hit the save button.
Ideally, if you fill in the agenda screen for your club, it would automatically populate this field here – but no. That doesn’t work. You’ve got to do this manually. Since you may be voluntold to fill a role at the meeting, you wouldn’t be on the agenda anyway.
Competent Leadership Manual vs. Pathways recordkeeping
For longtime Toastmasters, we’re used to the Competent Leadership manual. In the end, I think this is simpler because you’re not required to get someone to sign off on the work, but on the flip side, you’re also not getting any feedback for how you filled the club meeting role.
Whether you’re new or old, ask someone how you did and what you might do to improve. The general evaluator is a good person to ask since it’s their job to evaluate the meeting as a whole.
Sign Up Anyway
Even if you don’t think you’re ready – sign up for a role next week. The only way you’ll learn how to do these tasks and give the reports – is to do them. Yes, being grammarian requires you to listen actively and report what you heard. Timers have to watch the clock and not get caught up in the speeches and forget to note the time. But these skills are learned on the job. If you feel unprepared, try to sit next to the member who is filling that role at the next meeting and watch them. Get some on the job training and sign up for next week. Have fun with it!
Talking about having fun – let’s talk about the funniest part of Toastmasters in our next podcast.