Meeting Roles

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

To fulfill a role, simply log in to Turbobase. Select a meeting & modify. Choose your role and then select your name from the dropdown. Click MODIFY at the bottom of the page. You are set.

As Toastmasters transitions from the old program to Pathways you can still use a Competent Leadership (CL) manual. Each member completes their CL step by step by asking another member to evaluate them every time they do a meeting role.

In Pathways, roles are completed by adding them to your Pathways transcript. In Pathways, click on the gear symbol and then my account.

For more information on the responsibilities for the various roles, click on a link below. Also, visit the link section to the right for meeting agenda and role templates.


Sergeant at Arms Toastmaster Grammarian
Timer Inspirator Speech Evaluator
Speaker Table Topics Master Table Topics Evaluator
Jokemaster Quizmaster General Evaluator

Have additional questions regarding meeting roles and responsibilities? The VP of Education  or an assigned mentor are great resources for further information. Other possibilities would be to ask a quick question of any experienced member before or after a meeting. All club members are part of creating a club culture of support and encouragement.

General Guidelines

The Grammarian, Timer, Jokemaster, and Quizmaster stand and speak in place.

Speech Evaluators introduce the speech project in place but do the evaluation at the lectern. The Sgt at Arms, Toastmaster (Chair), Inspirator, Table Topics Master, Table Topics Evaluator, and General Evaluator all speak from the lectern.

TIP: If your speaking time is 2 minutes or less, you stand in place at your chair — except for the Inspirator.

In order to help with timing and keep the meeting on track, all members who speak from the lectern are encouraged to begin to move to the front during the Chair’s introduction of their speech or role.

Each member who goes to the lectern for their role will shake the hand of the Chair who will then step aside. When members have completed their role they shake the hand of the Chair before leaving the lectern. This protocol means there is always someone at the front who has the authority, and the handshake passes the authority from one person to another.

Sergeant at Arms
The Sergeant at Arms establishes the all important first impression in the club.

The Sgt at Arms prepares the room for the meeting and acts as the greeter for arriving members and guests.

The Sgt at Arms gives a warning five minutes before the meeting start and reminds people to pass their CL to another person for evaluation. He or she introduces the beginning of the meeting with a short 30 to 60 second thought and then announces the Chair.

The Sgt at Arms will assist any member during a meeting if a projector or screen is required or the lectern needs to be moved for their speech. It’s up to the speaker to inform the Sgt at Arms in advance in order to be prepared.

**Please note that this position is actually a member of the board and not one of the usual positions open for volunteering.

The Toastmaster (or Chair) performs all the behind-the-scene work prior to the meeting to make sure it comes together smoothly.

The Toastmaster monitors Turbobase to see if the roles are filled, emails or phones members to complete the agenda if not, prepares and prints the agenda for all members (agenda template available from the VP of Ed), and communicates with the
speakers to get their speech introductions. If there are guests, the Chair makes sure that someone is prepared to introduce them.

The role of the Chair is to act as the Master of Ceremonies. The Chair opens the meeting by identifying the club, area, division, district and region and then delivers a 2 min introduction to the meeting theme.

Any guests are welcomed and introduced by the designated person. If there are any inductions of new members, the Chair introduces the VP of Membership who takes over and performs the induction. If there are any awards the Chair introduces the member who will present the awards.

The Chair introduces all speakers, evaluators, and other meeting participants. The Chair supplies smooth transitions between speakers or roles by drawing on what has just gone before or by citing another interesting fact or insight about the theme.

At the end, the Chair elicits guest and member comments, gets a Chair for the following week, does the 50/50 draw, and formally closes the meeting.

The Grammarian provides the Word of the Day for each meeting. The Grammarian writes the word of the day on the white-board before the meeting begins, and passes it to the Chair to place on the front of the lectern during the Grammarian’s explanation of the role.

The Word of the Day is generally a word that is less commonly used but not completely obscure, and is connected to the meeting theme. Everyone is encouraged to use the word throughout the meeting.

The Grammarian tracks interesting phrases, evocative language, inventive word choice, and speech creativity in general. The Grammarian also notes any incorrect grammar and word usage that occurs.

At the end of the meeting, the Grammarian reports on Word of Day usage, grammar and language, and occasionally reminds the members in general terms about space fillers such as um, uh, and so.

In Toastmasters it’s important to be aware of the amount of time you have been given to speak.

The Timer assists the Chair in making sure the meeting stays on track and ends on time.

The Timer’s tools are a stop watch, timing lights, a bell and a timing information card. The timings for each speech or role will be found on the agenda and the lights are explained on the timing information card.

The Timer lets all speakers and participants know if they are still within their allotted time. The Timer shows the speaker a green light once they have reached their minimum required time, a yellow light once the speaker is between the minimum and maximum time, and a red light once they have reached their maximum time. When a speaker has gone an additional 30 seconds beyond their allotted time, the timer rings a bell.

The Timer explains the role at the beginning of the meeting and reports near the end of the meeting on the timing for each meeting participant. All roles are timed including the General Evaluator who comes after the Timer’s report. During Table Topics, individual speakers are timed rather than the overall length of Table Topics.

The Timer on occasion must turn the timing device to face the current speaker.

The Inspirator tells an inspiring two-minute story or anecdote based on the meeting theme.

The speech sets the tone for the day’s meeting and includes a toast.

After the anecdote, the Inspirator invites all members to stand, charge their glasses and make a toast related to the anecdote and the theme. The more succinct and to the point the toast is, the better.

Speech Evaluator
In Toastmasters everything is evaluated, both for the purpose of learning to give positive feedback, and for improving our speaking by receiving feedback.

An Evaluator has the option of meeting with the speaker prior to the meeting to discuss any potential areas of focus. It’s a good idea to review the speaker’s project and know their objectives in advance of the meeting.

There are two steps to doing a speech evaluation. The first step is to briefly (30 seconds) outline the project the speaker is doing, and give the timing of the speech. This is done standing in place.

The second step is to evaluate the speech after it’s been delivered. The evaluations are three minutes and are presented at the lectern.

Typically, the Evaluator needs to briefly recap the main points of the speech, highlight the speaker’s strengths, and offer one or two suggestions for improvement, and conclude with a positive statement about the overall effect of the speech. For beginner Evaluators, simply answering the questions on the evaluation page is a great place to start.

The evaluation should be matched to the experience level of the speaker. If someone is delivering an Icebreaker speech, their evaluator is especially encouraging. Similarly, if the speaker is quite experienced, then the evaluator should not be afraid to provide a more thorough critique, although still motivating. The objective is always to
encourage and motivate.

Any speech that is a milestone should be acknowledged by the Evaluator, eg someone achieving their Competent Communicator (CC), or any Advanced Communicator level.

In each meeting there is room for three 5-7 minute speeches or the equivalent. As each member signs up for a speech in Turbobase, they indicate the speech length in the notes so others know if they can add a speech or not.

Each speaker writes an introduction for their speech to give to the Chair prior to the meeting. The goal of the introduction is to grab interest but not give the plot away, and to let people know the speech title.

If any audio visual equipment is required, each member must make arrangements well in advance, and arrive early to test everything out. (The VP of Education has the information about equipment.) Any other special requirements (special timing, lighting cues, planted audience participation), are discussed with the Chair or any other appropriate member before the meeting starts. Each speaker prepares well and has a backup plan just in case something goes wrong, eg projector or powerpoint.

If there is something in particular the Speaker wants the Evaluator to watch for, it’s a good idea to have a quick chat with their Evaluator ahead of the meeting. Each Speaker is also responsible for informing the Timer of any special timing requirements.

If for any reason a member has to cancel their speech, they inform the Chair a couple of days ahead so the Chair can adapt and make other arrangements.

Table Topics Master
Table Topics is an opportunity to practise impromptu speaking and is meant to develop members’ ability to present a short, coherent speech even under pressure.

The Table Topics Master prepares three or four questions based on the meeting theme.

The Table Topics Master gives a brief introduction but moves to the questions quickly as the point is to have as many Table Topics speakers as possible. The protocol is to ask the question first and then call on someone so that all members remain attentive to the question.

Generally The Table Topics Master asks those people who don’t already have a role so that all members have a chance to speak at each meeting.

Each Table Topics Speaker will have 2 minutes to speak about the topic. After all the participants have spoken, the Table Topics Master will briefly summarize the main points of the participants’ impromptu speeches in order to bring Table Topics to a close.

Table Topics Evaluator
Since Table Topics provide members with a chance to improve in impromptu speaking, the evaluations are given with that thought in mind.

The Table Topics Evaluator usually has three minutes to evaluate all the Table Topics speakers. They do not evaluate the Table Topics Master.

If there have been more than four speakers, the Chair can instruct the Timer to extend the time for the Table Topics Evaluator.

Each speech during Table Topics is treated just like any other speech for the purposes of evaluation. The Table Topics Evaluator notes the speaker’s positive strengths and offers constructive suggestions.

The Jokemaster presents a joke or humorous story that is uplifting and funny. A guideline for choosing the joke would be to ask if the joke marginalizes or stereotypes any group or person.

The role is often chosen by newer members because it gives them a chance to do a role to get their feet wet.

The Quizmaster asks a series of questions to challenge members to listen intently and recall meeting content.

The Quizmaster makes note of interesting facts and figures mentioned throughout the meeting and writes down questions. Variations on simple questions are, “Who said ‘________’?” Or ask your question by calling on members to fill in the blanks.

A good quiz will have between five to ten questions, and the questions will vary in difficulty—some easy, some moderately challenging, and possibly one or two stumpers.

The role of Quizmaster is another role that can be taken on by new members.

General Evaluator
The General Evaluator’s (GE) role is to evaluate and give feedback to anyone who has not already been evaluated, IE, Sgt at Arms, Chair, Inspirator, Speech Evaluators, Timer, Table Topics Master, Table Topics Evaluator, Grammarian, Jokemaster, and Quizmaster. For newer members, it’s a good idea to have had some experience with many of the roles before taking on this advanced role.

For individuals who have done roles in the meeting, the same principles of evaluation apply in that the GE notes what members have done well and offers some suggestions for improvement. (Members can obtain a template for the GE role from the VP of ED.)

The GE also gives an overall assessment of how the meeting has run. They may comment on the overall planning, preparation, atmosphere, or dynamics of the meeting.