Common Club Meeting Roles

Roles in a Club Meeting

  • Sergeant at Arms: welcomes everybody to the meeting. Talks about the ground rules of the club. Maintains control of the door or the video conferencing tool.

  • Presiding Officer: opens the meeting, welcomes guests, conducts club business and makes announcements. Talks about the theme of the meeting.

  • Toastmaster of the Day: otherwise known as the host or the Master of Ceremonies. Maintains control of the meeting and engages the audience. Introduces everybody else in the meeting and talks about the themes.

  • General Evaluator: provides feedback to everybody at the meeting and oversees a team of speech evaluators and auxiliary evaluators.

  • Speech Evaluators: evaluate a single target speaker based on their Pathways project objectives.

  • Prepared Speakers: prepare speeches beforehand according to their Pathways projects.

  • Topicsmaster (TTM): prepares thematic topics beforehand and conducts the table topics section.

  • Timer: times everybody in the meeting and indicates their time thresholds.

  • Ah-counter: notes uses of filler words and phrases for everyone who takes the stage. Presents a report in the evaluation section and after the meeting.

  • Grammarian: notes praiseworthy use of language and areas of improvement. Presents a report in the evaluation section and after the meeting.

Sergeant at Arms (SAA)

The Sergeant at Arms is a club officer who begins the meeting by reminding the audience of any club rules and etiquette to be followed, such as putting their phones on Silent Mode.

There is no rule in Toastmasters that prevents speakers from talking about sex, religion, and politics. This is a widely believed but false adage in our community.

A club may choose to have this rule regardless. Toastmasters is a safe space for people learning how to express themselves, and we try not to offend each other.

However, my recommendation is to allow these topics so that speakers can discover their opinions on matters of importance. Teach your club members how to approach these topics with nuance and grace.

Some clubs may opt to have the SAA deliver a short speech on the theme of the meeting. This is especially true of clubs that meet for 90 or 120 minutes. It is a good practice to allow the SAA to get repeated speaking practice over the course of their officer term.

Presiding Officer

The Presiding Officer, usually the President, is an important role that sets the tone of the meeting. The Presiding Officer has the following responsibilities:

  1. Formally declare the meeting open with the club gavel.

  2. Conduct any club business, such as announcements of renewals, upcoming events, officer elections, polling club members for important decisions.

  3. As a best practice, you may also have the Club Secretary read the minutes of the previous meeting.

  4. Welcome guests to the meeting.

  5. Introduce the theme of the meeting, and briefly talk about it.

  6. Introduce the Toastmaster of the Day.

The Presiding Officer may also conduct closing business. See "Round 5" in the TMOD section.

Toastmaster of the Day (TMOD)

The main objective of the TMOD is to maintain the flow of the meeting. As TMOD, you are responsible for making sure that the audience is engaged, and excited to listen to the next speaker on stage.

The TMOD takes the stage in between every other speaker. As such, the TMOD is the person who is on the stage the most. To organize the role of the TMOD, consider each appearance as a "round".


Round 1: Talk about the theme of the meeting to educate and entertain the audience. In case the presiding officer didn't ask guests to introduce themselves, do so. Set the agenda of the meeting i.e. tell the audience that the meeting will contain prepared speeches, table topics, and evaluation. In case the meeting has a special agenda, this is where you inform the general audience. Finally, introduce the General Evaluator.

A club may have either the GE or the TMOD call upon the auxiliary evaluators. Work with the club officers to understand their standard operating procedure.

Round 2: Thank the GE. Move into the first agenda item, usually the prepared speeches section, or on occasion, a guest speaker's session.

Introduce the next speaker’s evaluator. After that, introduce the speaker, and declare their speech title.

In Toastmasters, we recommend using the "speaker name, speech title, pause, speech title, Speaker name" format. For example, if I'm attempting a speech with the title "A Helpful Handbook" I would be introduced as:

"Vaibhav Gupta, A Helpful Handbook. A Helpful Handbook, Vaibhav Gupta" or "DTM Vaibhav, A Helpful Handbook. A Helpful Handbook, DTM Vaibhav"

Round 3: Thank the final speaker, introduce the table topic section and the Topicsmaster.

Round 4: Thank the TTM, and call back the GE on stage (no introduction).

Round 5: Thank the GE, ask for guest feedback, check with officers for any announcements, and declare the results of the meeting. Close the meeting with the gavel.

A club may have either the Presiding Officer or the TMOD conduct Round 5.

You can use the sample script provided here.

pageSample Script: TMOD

General Evaluator

The main objective of the GE is to encourage everybody to speak again. As GE, you are responsible for making sure that everybody who takes the stage is made aware of their strengths and areas of improvement. A good GE gives feedback that makes a Toastmaster learn more about themselves and shows them a path of improvement.

The GE takes the stage twice - once to introduce their team and once to give their report.

Round 1 - Introduction: Tell the audience what the GE does. Call on the timer, ah-counter, grammarian, and any other auxiliary evaluator (such as listener) to introduce their roles. Wish everybody all the best.

A club may have either the GE or the TMOD call upon the auxiliary evaluators. Work with the club officers to understand their standard operating procedure.

Round 2 - Evaluation:

  1. Call on each speech evaluator to deliver their reports.

  2. Provide feedback to speech evaluators after they're done.

  3. (Optional) If there is a glaring oversight by the speech evaluator or if you have a strong difference of opinion, state it to the speaker.

  4. Encourage each speaker after their evaluators are done speaking.

  5. Call on the auxiliary evaluators to deliver their reports.

  6. (Optional) If the club votes by ballot or poll for best performers, remind the audience to vote.

  7. Provide your own feedback to the TMOD, the TTM, the table topic speakers, and any other role-takers.

Advice: Relegate any harsh opinions for after the meeting. Do not publicly ask people to repeat their speeches. Indicate your dissatisfaction with performances if any, but be kind, not cruel. Speakers improve from repeated practice. Extremely critical evaluation or cruel words only prevent speakers from speaking again.

Speech Evaluator

A speech evaluator is assigned to a particular prepared speaker. As an evaluator, you may be looking for the following:

pageThe (He)art of Evaluation

That page contains all my tips and etiquette for being an incredible speech evaluator.

Prepared Speaker

A prepared speaker is one who attempts a project speech. As a prepared speaker, you may be looking for any of the following:

pageChoose Speech Topics EasilypageHow to Structure Speeches

General tips and etiquette:

  1. Always attempt a Toastmasters-sanctioned project.

  2. Plan your speech to fit within the time limits of the project. Overextending may take away time from other members in the meeting.

  3. Don't argue with or explain yourself to your evaluator or the GE after they evaluate you.

  4. Prepare questions and talk to your evaluator after the meeting.

  5. Provide a brief introduction and your speech title to the TMOD.

Topicsmaster (TTM)

The Topicsmaster or Table Topics Master is responsible for conducting the table topics section of the day. As a TTM, prepare short prompts before the meeting.

When you are given your turn to speak, briefly introduce the concept of Table Topics and maintain a friendly demeanor to put the audience at ease. Select audience members to attempt a table topic, and give them their prompt. Repeat until your allotted time is complete.

General tips and etiquette:

  1. Opt for topics that lend themselves to open interpretation.

  2. Keep your topics short and simple. Overly complex or long topics confuse speakers.

  3. Make speakers comfortable and assure them that they can speak on the given topic.

  4. Keep some topics in reserve in case there is time for additional speakers.

  5. Keep a mix of themed and general topics. The theme of the meeting is a great prompt to create topics.

  6. If there are no volunteers, do not hesitate to select people for Table Topics.


The main objective of the timer is to indicate to every speaker, evaluator, and table topic speaker their speech times. Each speaking role has a qualifying time (green card), a warning time (yellow or amber card), and a stop time (red card). Keep a stopwatch or the Toastmasters app handy to time each speaker.

The timer takes the stage twice - once to introduce themselves and once to give their report.

Round 1 - Introduction: The GE or TMOD will call on you to introduce yourself. Tell the audience what the timer does. You can use the following script:

As the timer, my role is to remind all speakers how much time they spent on their speech, so that we will run this meeting on time.

For prepared speaker, the project time is 5-7 minutes. I will raise the green card at 5 minutes, yellow card at 6 minutes, and red card at 7 minutes. For table topics, the time is 1-2 minutes - green at 1 minute, yellow at 1 and a half minutes, red at 2 minutes. For evaluators, the time is 2-3 minutes - green at 2 minutes, yellow at 2 and a half minutes, and red at 3 minutes.

All speakers will be granted 30 seconds of grace time after the red card to end their speech. If they continue beyond that, they will be disqualified from voting at the end of the meeting. I will present my report when called upon by the General Evaluator.

Round 2: Report: Present your timing report for each member who spoke. Indicate whether they've successfully met their timing brackets or not.


The main objective of the ah-counter is to help members reduce their dependence on filler words and filler sounds.

The ah-counter takes the stage twice - once to introduce themselves and once to give their report.

Round 1 - Introduction: The GE or TMOD will call on you to introduce yourself. Tell the audience what the ah-counter does. You can use the following script:

The purpose of the Ah-Counter is to note words and sounds that are used as a “crutch” or “filler” by anyone who speaks. During the meeting, I will listen for overused words, including and, well, but, so, and you know. I will also listen for filler sounds, including ah, um, and er. I will also note when a speaker repeats a word or phrase, such as “I, I” or “This means, this means.” At the end of the meeting, I will report the number of times that each speaker used these expressions.

Round 2: Report: Present your ah-count report for each member who spoke. Indicate their most common crutch words.


The grammarian is an intimidating role for many Indian Toastmasters because they believe their English skills aren't strong enough. Remember that you are only expected to do your best, not meet a defined standard. Try this role often - you will only improve the more you do it.

The main objective of the grammarian is to encourage good and clever use of language. As grammarian, you are responsible for noting down good and not-so-good use of grammar. You are also responsible for the word of the day.

For the word of the day, opt to find a descriptive yet easy word. You want to find words that people can actually use in the course of their speech. Don't recommend impractical words like floccinaucinihilipilification, grandiloquent, or circumlocutory. They add nothing to the meeting and they make you look insufferable.

A good tip is to recommend descriptive adjectives instead of nouns, since people can add them to their speeches. Consider words from the adjective wheel below.

The grammarian takes the stage twice - once to introduce themselves and once to give their report.

Round 1 - Introduction: The GE or TMOD will call on you to introduce yourself. Tell the audience what the grammarian does. You can use the following script:

“As Grammarian, it is my responsibility to pay close attention to all speakers, listening carefully to their language usage. I’ll take note of any misuses of the English language, as well as any outstanding words, quotes, sayings, or thoughts. As Grammarian, it is also my duty to introduce the Word of the Day. The Word of the Day is ___, and it means ___. A sample sentence is ___."

Round 2 - Report: The GE will call on you to present your report. Present interesting sections of the report. You can also compile your report into a document or image to share with your club after the meeting is concluded.

How to take notes as Grammarian:

If anything catches your attention, note it down. Positives may include a descriptive word or phrase, a joke, a pun, a clever turn of phrase, or more. Areas of improvement may be a complex sentence that could be broken down or simplified. You can also note anything that doesn't sound right to you. If your grammar isn't strong, you can quickly verify the incorrect-sounding phrase on Google.

Over time, aim to improve your understanding of prepositions and tenses. These are where people struggle the most, and you'll be appreciated if you can help with those.

Going Beyond Your Role

The suggestions provided in this page are common and best practices. However, they are not the be-all and end-all of these roles. As I've said many times in this handbook, speaking is an art form, and the scope for doing more is always there.

Think about how you can make your role better. As a TMOD, think about how to keep your audience engaged. As a GE, think about how to make a member more self-aware. As a Topicsmaster, think of how to balance comfort and discomfort for your speakers.

This is especially true of the auxiliary roles - Timer, Ah-counter, Grammarian. I strongly believe that these roles need an overhaul in Toastmasters, because they're often an afterthought.

Some ideas to consider:

  • A timer at ORA*TORS Club Bangalore once won Best Role-player because he took the initiative to create happy (in green), meh (in yellow), and angry (in red) emoji faces with a handle, and those permanently became the timer cards for the club.

  • I've seen many timers provide timing information for everybody, including the TTM and the cumulative time for the TMOD!

  • As Ah-counter, I once won an award because I did a dissection of why we have fillers, including the difference between stutters and stammers, and why some people use sounds (ah, um, er) and some lean on words (right, you know) and how to tackle both.

  • As ah-counter, you can create a living document of people's ah-counts so they can collect data over time.

  • As grammarian, you could compile the common missteps within the club and create small written or image lessons for your club to learn.

The possibilities are endless. Think of how you can add value to your club, because that is how you become good yourself, that is how you help people, and that is how you attract the appreciation of your club members.

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