Master Toastmaster’s Meeting Responsibilities

This article covers all the main points the Master Toastmaster should cover in a TFS meeting.  Of course, you’ll do it in your own inimitable style.  🙂

Remember the Master Toastmaster’s job is to facilitate and shine the light on other speakers; it is not a speech giving role.  The focus of our club is to facilitate speech making for the tabletopics and prepared speakers.


The Presiding Officer (PO) introduces the MT.   (Click here to read what the PO does so you know what to expect, and know what to fill in if the PO forgets anything.)

You should have provided your introduction to the PO ahead of time and s/he will read this introduction.  The PO will remain firmly in front of the lectern, shake your hand and then leave you in command of the lectern.

Key points to cover in your opening

Here are  the key points for you to cover:

Explain that the MT is the host or Master of Ceremonies of the meeting.  His/her role is to

  1. Explain the meeting and meeting roles to guests.
  2. Introduce the Tabletopics Master, the Prepared Speakers, and finally the General Evaluator at which point your visible role in the meeting stops.
  3. Keep the meeting moving so that we stay on time.

After you introduce the GE you are still responsible for the meeting moving along on time and you can signal the Timer and/or whoever is at the lectern to wrap things up if they are taking up too much time.

Explanation of the meeting

Three main sections

Our meetings have three main sections: the TableTopics section, the Prepared Speeches section, and the Evaluation Section.  Be creative and feel free to use a clever and appropriate analogy to describe the meeting e.g.

  1. “Our meetings have three main parts.  You can think of it like a three-course meal. (Think of different analogies for fun e.g. the card at a boxing match: pre-fight/main bout/analysis.)  First we have the appetizer which we call the Tabletopics Session, in the Tabletopics session we have some fun with unprepared speeches that last between 1 and 2 minutes.  Our tabletopics Master will ask a question, and then call a name, you don’t know who the name is so pay attention.
  2. Then we have the main course: the prepared speeches, where we have club members deliver speeches that they have worked on for days or even weeks in advance.
  3. Finally we have the Evaluations portion of the meeting —the desert, or post game analysis—where we assess and give feedback to the prepared speakers and the overall meeting.”  

Note: Other clubs have the GE come to the lectern to introduce the supporting roles as the evaluation team.  If the GE is a visitor you will need to explain how we do things at TFS.

Introduce the Supporting roles

Note: These roles are called the “Evaluation Team” in most other clubs.  In keeping with our culture of informality we choose to refer to these roles as supporting roles of the entire meeting to help make our meeting less intimidating to guests and new toastmasters.  The way they function and related to the General Evaluator is the same as other clubs. We do not set any of these roles off to the side at special tables for the same reason.

After explaining our meeting structure then introduce the supporting roles by asking the Toastmaster holding each role to stand and explain their role.

You can say something like “Our meetings are facilitated by three key supporting roles and I’d like to introduce them to you now.


Holding the role of Timer today is (say person’s name). The timer stands and explains the Timer’s role (1-2 minutes)

Thank the Timer


“Next we have the Grammarian (say the person’s name).”  “The Grammarian stands and explains the Grammarian’s role and the word of the day.

Thank the Grammarian

Ah Counter

“Next we have the Ah Counter (say the person’s name).”  The Ah-Counter stands and explains the Ah Counter’s role.

Thank the Ah Counter.

Explain the ballots

The last thing to do is explain the ballots.  Pick one up and show it to the room while asking if everyone has one.  If not ask the Sgt at Arms to provide one to everyone who doesn’t have one.

You can say something like this.

“Your opinion counts at our meetings and your votes will determine who is the best TT speaker, the best prepared speaker and the best evaluator.   If you look at your ballot you will spaces that can be torn off for each one of your votes.  At the end of every prepared speaker, evaluator and at the end of the entire TT session we will ask you to use the appropriate ballot space to vote for the person you think was the best.   You’ll also notice that there is a space for you to write any feedback for the prepared speakers.  Please do so.  Write down what you liked and any area you think the speaker could improve.

At certain points we’ll be passing around a little basket to collect your votes.”

Introduce the players

As the MT, you should have received introduction from each of the major players, the TT Master, each prepared speaker, and finally the General Evaluator who presides over the last third of the meeting.  (You also have to provide your own introduction to the PO of the meeting.)

TableTopics Master

After you have explained the meeting you will introduce the leader of the first main section of the meeting the TableTopics Master.  Read the introduction (remember to keep the person’s name for last).

TIP: Remember to remain firmly planted at the lectern until you shake the hand of the person coming to take your place.  Look them firmly in the eye, smile and only then do you physically move your body away from the lectern.

Prepared Speakers

:60 after each prepared speech

After each prepared speaker leaves the lectern ask the audience to use the ballot sheet to give feedback to the speaker.  Give them 1 minute. You can ask the Timer to signal you when the minute is up.

Pause for Voting

Tabletopics voting

After you have reclaimed the lectern from the TT Master, you preside over the voting for the best TT speaker by

  • Asking the Timer if every TT speaker was within the 1-2 minute requirements.  The Timer need only report the exact times of persons who did not meet the time requirements or who exceeded the maximum time by an allowed margin.
  • Guide the  TT voting by asking each TT speaker to raise their hand when you call their name so that people can associate the correct name with the person who spoke.

Prepared Speaker voting

After the last speaker has left the stadium ask everyone to give feedback to that speaker—like you did for every speaker before.

Preside over the best speaker voting by:

  • Asking the Timer whether every speaker were within their allotted time.  The Timer will give the specific times of each one and explain whether any time was under or over the requirements.
  • Ask everyone to vote for best speaker.

Introduce the General Evaluator

After calling for the Best Speaker vote, allow a few seconds for people to begin casting their vote, but then move swiftly into giving a very big introduction to the General Evaluator.  You would have asked the GE before the meeting for their preferred intro.

Your time at the lectern is done. Give the lectern over to the GE who will in turn hand the lectern over to the Presiding Officer of the meeting to give the awards and close the meeting.

Keeping the meeting on time

It is your responsibility to make sure the meeting ends on time.  This means keeping a careful eye on the actual time and the time posted in the agenda.

TIP: There are places to cut, or allow more time depending on whether the meeting is running late or early.  Those times are:

  • The TT session when you can signal the TT to allow them to end after the next speaker, or allow more speakers.
  • The Presiding Officer closing where you can signal whether there is time for Business Announcements and/or to ask guests for feedback.  If there is no time, the commitment is to end on time.  We do not casually go over our ending time without acknowledging and asking permission from everyone to stay an additional few minutes.

TIP: Have little pieces of paper that you can pass to the lectern or a role player if you wish to communicate something.

You can read TI’s explanation of the Master Toastmaster’s role by clicking here.


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We meet every 1st and 3rd Thursday at the Chancellor Hotel, 5 St. Anns Road, St. Anns, Port-of-Spain. Our meetings start promptly at 5:29 and go till 7 to 7:15. Gated parking provided.