Toastmasters' meetings allow participants to practice public speaking techniques and leadership skills in a supportive and friendly environment. The toastmaster’s overall role is to plan and direct the meeting, coordinate with other members and ensure the meeting runs in a smooth and efficient manner. The toastmaster also acts as an emcee, introducing speakers and other participants. Acting in the role of toastmaster gives you an opportunity to use the skills you accumulated while serving in other leadership roles.
Before the Meeting
Create a detailed program for the meeting. Become familiar with the meeting agenda and the participants who will be involved in the meeting.
Contact members who are scheduled for a role in advance. Not only does this confirm attendance, but it also allows members to give advance notice of a sudden absence, so that another member can be contacted to fill in if needed.
Interview the scheduled speakers and confirm their attendance. Gather information on the type of speech, speech length, title and other important information. The number of speakers can be reduced by the Table Topics Master in order to keep the meeting on schedule if any of the speakers present a longer-than-normal speech.
Have your agenda prepared prior to the meeting. Ensure that enough copies are available for distribution among the participants.
Arrive to the meeting early. Not only will you be able to check that all participants are present and ready to conduct the meeting, you can also take care of any last-minute details, should any come up.
During the Meeting
Take a seat near the front of the room. This will give you quick access to the lectern when called.
Host the meeting after the presiding officer introduces you. As toastmaster, you have control of the meeting, except when ceding control to other participants, such as the speakers, Table Topics Master and General Evaluator. You will also perform such tasks as announcing the meeting theme, introducing participants and taking control of the meeting from them after they finish.
Remain aware of the time as the meeting progresses. Confirm that all speeches were within time with the timekeeper and make any necessary adjustments to ensure the meeting remains on schedule.
Mark Robinson is a freelance graphic designer and writer. Since 2008 he has contributed to various online publications, specializing in topics concerning automotive repair, graphic design and computer technology. Robinson holds a Bachelor of Science in graphic design from Alabama A&M University.