Meeting Roles Explained

Please note that the following are brief descriptions for Toastmasters functionary roles. To read complete descriptions, please refer to your Toastmasters competent communicator manual.

Roles include: Ah-Counter, Evaluator, General Evaluator, Speaker, Table Topics Master, Timer, Toastmaster of the Day, Vote Counter, and Word of the Day/Grammarian. These descriptions are customized reflect the unique culture of the Park City Toastmasters club and may differ from roles used in other clubs.


Purpose: To note words (and, but, so, you know, like, etc) and sounds (ah, um, er) used as a “crutch” or “pause-fillers” by anyone who speaks during the meeting. Our goal as a Toastmaster is to avoid use of these filler words.

  • When guests are present, give a brief explanation of the duties of the Ah-Counter when called upon by the Toastmaster.
  • Make note of the number of inappropriate pauses or filler words for each attendee, including guests.
  • Near the end of the meeting the Toastmaster will ask you to provide a report on all speakers and the number of “infractions” committed.
  • Provide a count of the exact number of “crutch” or “pause-fillers” used by anyone who speaks during the meeting.
  • If there is a specific word used by any one member, note these tendencies for the benefit of the speaker. For instance, if a member uses the filler word “ah” much more frequently than other words, make sure the speaker is aware of this habit so it can be corrected.
  • If a member spoke during the meeting without using a pause-filler, make sure to note his/her achievement in your summation.
  • Your report should be 1-2mn in length; brevity is vital to well run meetings.


Purpose: To provide a verbal evaluation of the speech during the meeting. You are also responsible for providing a written evaluation in the speaker’s manual. Your goal is to help the member become more confident and effective in speaking.

  • Review the Effective Evaluator manual that you received in your membership kit.
  • Each evaluator is responsible for contacting their speaker prior to the day of their speech in order to, review their speech subject, number and purpose, determine the focus of the evaluation, provide beneficial tips and suggestions.
  • Before the meeting begins, confer with the speaker to be clear about his/her goals, get the Speaker’s manual and review the evaluation guide for the specific Manual speech being given.
  • When evaluating, frame your verbal comments into a sandwich:
    1. What went well? (positive)
    2. What could be done differently to make the speech effective? (improvement area)
    3. What also went well? (positive)
  • Record comments and observations about the speech in the Speaker’s speech manual and return the manual to the Speaker after the meeting.

General Evaluator

Purpose: To watch the whole meeting and provide feedback on the activities in order to continually strengthen the quality of the meeting. The GE is responsible to make sure the evaluation team (evaluators, ah master, word of the day/grammarian, and timer) are recruited and prepared for the meeting. The GE is giving feedback to the Toastmaster of the Day on how they ran the meeting.

  • Provide an introduction of yourself to the Toastmaster of the Day in advance of the meeting day.
  • Review the information provided in the Competent Communication manual or view the materials provided on the Toastmaster website regarding how the meeting should run and each functionary role.
  • During the meeting, make note of all members performing a functionary roles. Each functionary should be familiar with their role and know what is expected of them.
  • Look for examples of both strengths and opportunities to improve throughout the meeting (timeliness, preparation, organization, delivery, performance of duties, etc).
  • Be prepared to give a general summation of the meeting when asked by the Toastmaster after you have called on the evaluators, timer, ah master, and word of the day/grammarian. In the summation, answer the following questions with specific examples:
    1. What went well during the meeting?
    2. What could be done differently to make the meeting more effective?
    3. Did those members performing a functionary role effectively explain and execute each role?
    4. How did the evaluators perform? (Briefly evaluate the evaluators.)
  • Shake the hand of the Toastmaster of the Day before and after leading the evaluation phase of the meeting.


Purpose: To prepare and present a speech during the Toastmaster meeting. Prepare a written introduction of yourself to give to the Toastmaster of the Day in advance of the meeting. Include the title of your speech, the Manual speech number, your goals and objectives as they pertain to the objectives of the speech you are delivering, and something personal about yourself. The following is a sample introduction:

“Our next speaker is [insert name]. He/she [add some interesting personal information about the speaker, such as why they are credible to talk on this subject- keep it brief]. He/she is giving his/her [insert speech number from the Manual] from the [name of] Manual. The objectives of the speech are [list objectives]. The title of his/her speech is [insert title of speech] and it is _ to _ minutes in length. Please join me in welcoming [name of speaker].”

  • Arrive early and make sure you’re comfortable with the setup of the room and any technology or props you plan to use.
  • Before the meeting, speak to your assigned evaluator about your objectives and concerns. Bring your Speech Manual to the meeting and give it to your Evaluator at this time.
  • Be sure to shake the hand of the Toastmaster before and after your speech.
  • After the meeting, ask that the Vice President of Education initials the Project Completion Record in the back of your Speech Manual.

Table Topics Master

Purpose: To lead a spirited and fast-paced session that requires participating members to speak for one to two minutes on a selected topic. There are two major purposes for the Table Topics session: Promote the improvement of impromptu speeches, and ensure that as many people at the meeting as possible participate. This is especially important for those who do not have a scheduled speaking, evaluation or functionary role during the meeting.

  • Bring 6 to 10 interesting topical questions to ask which are preferably appropriate to the theme of the meeting. When choosing your questions, select ones that will inspire the speakers to expound on them and give their opinions. Phrase each question in such a way that the speaker will know clearly what you want them to talk about. Avoid grandstanding and taking up too much time with preliminary comments; get to your questions quickly.
  • For the benefit of both Members and Guests, the Table Topics Master will briefly explain how the Table Topics session will proceed. Include information on the time as follows:
  • Each speaker must respond to the topic and speak for a minimum of 1 minute with a two minute maximum.
  • There is a 30 second grace period at the end of the two minute mark.
  • Participants must use the word of the day and be within time to qualify for the Best Table Topic award.
  • Only call on members – call on those without a functionary role first, and if you exhaust non-role members, then you can all on functionaries starting with the those with the smallest role like vote counter, ah master, timer, etc.
  • Keep the session lively and ask short but creative questions.
  • Make sure the session ends in a timely manner according to the prepared Agenda; be sure to look to the Toastmaster for clues whether they need you to stop or continue.
  • Shake hands with the Toastmaster of the Day before and after you lead Table Topics.
  • At the end of the session, the Toastmaster will call on the Timer and the Grammarian for reports to determine which participants qualify for the Best the Table Topics award.


Purpose: To keep the time for the various speeches and speaking functions during the meeting and to keep track of the actual time taken. Our goal as a Toastmaster is to be aware of and within the allotted time as often as possible.

  • Arrive early and set up the timing equipment – make sure you understand how to operate the stopwatch and any other signaling devices to be used.
  • Verify in advance the correct times for the formal speeches (check with the Toastmaster and/or with the individual speakers.)
  • Review the timings, if needed:
    1. Table Topics – 1 minute minimum (green), 1:30 (yellow), and 2:00 (red) with a 30 second grace period after 2 minutes
    2. Speeches – Ice Breaker 4-6 minutes, Speeches two through nine, 5-7 minutes, tenth speech 8-10 minutes. All speeches have a 30 second grace period at end
    3. Evaluations – 2 minute minimum with a 3 minute maximum with a 30 second grace period.
    4. Agenda – if the Toastmasters goes over the Agenda time constraints, raise the red card to cue them.
    5. Reports – Grammarian (2-3mn), Ah Master (1-2mn), Loud & Clear (1mn)
  • When timing our blind member it is necessary to pound the table once for a green light, twice for a yellow, and three times for a red.
  • Throughout the meeting, the Timer will be responsible to set and manage the time clock for all Table Topics participants, formal speeches and formal evaluations of speeches and meeting. Record the actual times for each speech, Table Topics response and evaluation.
  • It is the Timer’s responsibility to make it clear to speakers when they have exceeded their time and the “grace” period.
  • The Timer will report when called upon by the Toastmaster as to whether speakers stayed within the allowed time. Brevity is important to a well executed, timely meeting.

Toastmaster of the Day

Purpose: To conduct the meeting in an energetic, timely and professional manner.

  • During the week preceding the meeting, confirm with all Speakers and role holders that they know their assignments, understand their roles and that they will be attending the meeting. Ask the General Evaluator to support you in this function. Follow up with phone calls if necessary. While it is the role holder’s responsibility to find their own replacement if unable to attend, it may be necessary for you to fill vacant assignments. A personal invitation is far more effective to filling role vacancies than group emails. It is also your responsibility to get introductions from the Speakers, General Evaluator, and Table Topics Master before the meeting. Make sure the speaker introductions include their name, some bio, speech #, title, objectives, and time.
  • Send your intro to the Club’s President.
  • Verify each evaluator knows whom they will be evaluating. Invite them to contact their speaker ahead of time to discuss speech objectives and personal goals.
  • The night before: print enough agendas for meeting from the ‘meeting agenda’ tab on the google spreadsheet.
  • Arrive early to make sure everything in the room is set up correctly and make appropriate adjustments as necessary. To minimize any “down time” between speakers, take a seat close to the lectern.
  • Confer with the Table Topics Master before the meeting – be in agreement on how they need to watch you for cues for when you want them to stop so as to keep the meeting moving and ending on time.
  • Tie any theme of the meeting into your introductory remarks and recognize guests. Bridge any gaps between program segments with prepared remarks. Keep the atmosphere upbeat and lively.
  • Be sure to occupy the podium until the next speaker is ready to assume control of the meeting. When leaving the podium, shake hands with the arriving speaker.
  • Begin applause whenever appropriate – everyone will follow your lead.
  • Follow the agenda per club protocol with respect to the sequence of events, including reports from Timer, Grammarian, Ah Master, club speech evaluation periods, and voting.
  • Be keenly aware of the clock throughout the meeting – it’s up to you to keep the meeting timely.
  • Present awards for “Best Speaker”, Best Evaluator”, “Best Table Topics” and “Most Improved Speaker” as appropriate.
  • At the end of the meeting, thank everyone for coming and introduce the Presiding Officer who will provide closing remarks.

Vote Counter

Purpose: To tally the votes for the various awards.

  • Gather the award ribbons before the meeting begins and place them on the lectern, if this has not already been done by the Sgt. at Arms.
  • During the meeting, make sure members vote at the proper times according to the agenda. Ballots should be delivered to you promptly after the voting occurs.
  • Count the ballots and determine the outcome of the votes for “Best Speaker”, “Best Table Topics” and “Best Evaluator” and announce the winners, without mentioning the tally totals, when the Toastmaster calls on you. Avoid any phrases like, ‘it was a close race…” (two did well but someone didn’t do so well), so as to avoid any harmful insinuations regarding the performance of anyone.
  • Break any tie of votes so that there is always only one winner per award by using your own judgment as to the ‘best’ according to the objectives of speeches, answering the table topics question directly, evaluating using the sandwich, and crafting a strong written introduction that effectively sets the tone.
  • Brevity is key to an efficiently run meeting.

Word of the Day/Grammarian

Purpose: To introduce new words to members, to comment on the use of English during the meeting, and to provide examples of good grammar and word usage. Our goal as a Toastmaster is to continually expand our vocabulary and strengthen our use of language in our speeches.

  • Before the meeting choose the “Word of the Day.” It should be a word that will help members increase their vocabulary, that can be easily incorporated into everyday conversation.
  • Post the “Word of the Day” in large font where everyone can see it before the meeting begins, giving the part of speech (noun, verb etc.,) and a brief definition. Prepare a sentence to illustrate how the word can be used (you may also provide copies).
  • For the benefit of any guests present, give a brief explanation of the duties of the Grammarian when called upon by the Toastmaster.
  • Listen throughout the meeting to all speakers for use of the Word of the Day (or a derivative of it), proper and improper grammatical usage as well as who used the Word of the Day during Table Topics. Track usage of the word and other incorrect usage of the English language.
  • When called upon by the General Evaluator, report on creative language usage and announce who used the “Word of the Day” correctly or incorrectly. Also provide a summation of the use of English during the course of the meeting noting any awkward or misuse of the language. The Grammarian’s report should only be 2 – 3mn in length.
  • There is a grammarian cheat sheet available for use in the club resource box at the library.

Loud & Clear

Purpose: to assess the volume and clarity of everyone who speaks during the meeting, giving them feedback while their speaking and during the evaluation phase of the meeting. This is a role created by the Park City Toastmasters club and is not used in other clubs.

In the Loud & Clear role, you will sit at the back of the audience and makes note of the quality of the volume and clarity of every speaker. During the meeting you can hold up the score cards (rating 1 to 5, 5 being the highest or best grade) at any time you want to let whomever is speaking know the level of their volume and clarity so they can adjust. The volume score is always first and the clarity second so people can remember the order (loud & clear). The general evaluator will call on you as part of the evaluation section for a very quick 30 second report on the rating given to each speaker (TM, GE, Speakers, TTM, Table Topics, Evaluators, etc.). Comments on the volume and clarity are discouraged so as to keep the meeting running in a timely fashion.

Very important – refer to your Competent Communication Manual or Competent Leadership Manual for a more detailed description of these roles. If it is your first time filling any particular role, or you have any questions, contact a Club Officer for assistance.

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