Let’s talk about the role of a Toastmaster. When you are assigned the role of Toastmaster, it is a short term leadership position within your club. You can view this as being President and CEO of the upcoming meeting, or as a project manager where you other functionaries are “stakeholders” in the project. Regardless of how you choose to view the role, you are ultimately responsible for making your next meeting great. So the question is how do you do that?
1 week prior to the meeting
You need to write a speech related to the theme of the day. Give yourself plenty of time to write and practice this.
72 – 48 hours prior to the meeting
As the Toastmaster, you must verify that other functionaries are aware of their assigned role, confirm that they accept and that they understand the responsibilities of the assigned function. At a minimum, you should send an email to your functionaries at least 48 hours before the meeting. Trust me, people will cancel because of other events and sometimes out of lack of clarity of the role. I’ve found that getting a functionary to confirm their role in a group email adds extra accountability.
Once they have confirmed, it is your duty to deliver clarity and set expectations for the role. Remember, this is your meeting. As long as you are running it in the manner set by your club, you can set your own expectations for functionaries.
48 – 24 hours prior to the meeting
Now that your functionaries have committed to the role, it’s time to notify the other members about how fantastic this meeting will be. Think of this as a miniature marketing blast. Tell the members what to expect from the meeting, let them know who is speaking and a rough idea of the speech content, or bribe them with cake. Everybody loves cake, just make sure you have a gluten free option.
Psssst. That speech is almost fined tuned, right?
24 hours prior to the meeting
Track down your speakers and ask for their written introductions. Let them know that you need them by a certain time. You need this to give you a chance to review the intro and learn to pronounce the speaker’s name beforehand. You want to give them a proper introduction. I cannot imagine an American announcing the 2014 Toastmaster’s World Champion without a bit of practice. His name is Dananjaya Hettiarachchi. See what I mean? Sometimes you need a bit of practice.
Unless your club follows a different method, you should expect to print the agendas. I suggest making enough for all of the members plus five guests. Again, this may differ in your club, but coming prepared never hurts.
The day of
Run through the meeting in your head. What’s on the agenda? How will you transition to other functionaries? How will you introduce the speakers? Does your vocal variety match the cadence of their speech introduction? This is your chance to prepare the audience, do it right.
By now it’s time to execute and make your meeting amazing. Don’t worry you’ve got this!
The tagline of Toastmasters International is “Where Leaders Are Made”. The role of the Toastmaster is a prime example of this. When you put in the effort, you WILL learn and grow. Acting as the Toastmaster provides you with an opportunity to hone your leadership skills, regardless of your job title in daily life.
Put in the effort, and enjoy the ride.
Want to learn more? Check out these other functionary descriptions: