The Toastmaster is the meeting’s director and host. You won’t usually be assigned this role until you are thoroughly familiar with VETC and its procedures.
Serving as Toastmaster is an excellent way to practice many valuable skills as you strive to make your meeting one of VETC’s best. Preparation is the key to your success.
As the Toastmaster, you’ll introduce each speaker. Remember to keep the introductions short and sweet. You want to avoid awkward interruptions or gaps in meeting flow so plan some remarks you can use to make smooth transitions from one portion of the program to another.
On meeting day, show up early – ideally at 6:00pm. You’ll need time to make sure the stage is set for a successful meeting.
Begin the meeting with a welcome and introductions of functionaries and guests. Exchange handshakes with those arriving at and leaving the front to show when control passes from the Toastmaster to the speaker and vice versa. You will lead the applause before and after every speaker.
You are responsible for beginning and ending the meeting on time. You may have to adjust the schedule during the meeting to accomplish this by taking time from the Table Topics section. Make sure each meeting segment adheres to the agenda.
SERGEANT AT ARMS
As the Sergeant At Arms you get the chance to practice and improve your skills in planning, preparation and organization, time management, motivation and team building.
You arrive early and appoint a Catering Committee and a Greeting Committee. You charge the Catering Committee with the task of laying out the snacks and beverages before the break so that each member and guest can access them quickly. You charge the Greeting Committee with the task of greeting every guest, conducting mini-interviews and delivering an oral synopsis of each interview to the members at the beginning of the meeting.
You open the meeting on time and energetically and introduce the Timer and Toastmaster. Throughout the meeting you ensure that the ‘hot seat’ is occupied by the next speaker so that time is not wasted in transitioning from one speaker to the next. You sit close to the ‘hot seat’ so that you can assist each speaker put on the microphone. You call the meeting to order at the end of the break and re-introduce the Toastmaster. You distribute and tabulate the ballots for the ‘Best Table Topic’ contest and announce the winner with appropriate fanfare.
VETC has a grueling agenda that can only be completed on time with the help of the Timer. The Timer operates a laptop computer that displays green, yellow and red to let each speaker know their elapsed time. The Timer also records the times of each speaker. The Timer will report all of the times during the reports section of the agenda.
As the Grammarian you announce the ‘word of the day’ and watch for good or bad grammar and vocabulary usage. You report on usage of your ‘word of the day’ and provide examples of good and bad grammar during the reports section of the agenda.
As the Ah Counter you count, record and ‘ding’ ineffective words that speakers use such as um, er, y’know, ah, anyway, like and so. This role helps both you and VETC’s members purge these ineffective words from their vocabularies.
VETC likes to begin on a light note to help everyone relax. We encourage the telling of humorist stories and discourage the reading of jokes. Whatever the form of humour, it must not be offensive, sexist, racist or sexual.
The videographer operates VETC’s videocamera and records those prepared speeches whose speakers want them recorded. At the end of each meeting these speakers can review their performance to gain the considerable benefits of self-evaluation.
Evaluate to motivate! Speaking skills are improved with the help of evaluations. Everyone is asked to participate by providing an evaluation. You will provide both verbal and written evaluations for speakers using the Communicator workbook provided. Your objective is to give the speaker practical and encouraging feedback. At VETC we often use the sandwich method: give praise, then ‘growth points’ (suggestions for improvement), and end with something positive the speaker did.
Study the speech objectives as well as the evaluation guide in the manual. By actively listening, providing reinforcement for their strengths and gently offering useful advice, you will motivate members to work hard and improve. When you show the way to improvement, you’ve opened the door to strengthening everyone’s abilities.
Record your impressions in the speaker’s manual, along with your answers to the evaluation questions. Be as objective as possible. Remember that good evaluations may give new inspiration to discouraged members and poor evaluations may dishearten members who tried their best. Always provide specific methods for improving and present them in a positive manner.
Begin and end your evaluation with a note of encouragement or praise. Commend a successful speech and describe specifically how it was successful. Don’t allow the speaker to remain unaware of a valuable asset such as a smile or a sense of humor. Likewise, don’t permit the speaker to remain ignorant of a serious fault: if it is personal, write it but don’t mention it aloud. Give the speaker deserved praise and tactful suggestions in the manner you would like to receive them.
After the meeting, return the manual to the speaker. Add another word of encouragement and answer any questions the member may have.
By giving feedback, you are personally contributing to your fellow VETC member’s improvement. Preparing and presenting evaluations is also an opportunity for you to practice your listening, critical thinking, feedback and motivation skills. And when the time comes to receive feedback, you’ll have a better understanding of the process.
TABLE TOPICS MASTER
The Table Topics Master challenges each VETC member with an unknown topic, and the speaker responds with a two minute impromptu speech. This trains VETC members to quickly organize and express their thoughts in an impromptu setting.
This role provides the Table Topics Master with an opportunity to practice planning, preparation, organization, time management and facilitation skills. Select subjects and questions that allow speakers to offer opinions. Don’t make the questions too long or complicated and make sure they don’t require specialized knowledge. Phrase questions so the speakers clearly understand what you want them to talk about. Your job is to give others a chance to speak, so keep your own comments short.
When the Toastmaster introduces you, walk to the lectern and assume control of the meeting. Briefly state the purpose of table topics, mention any theme and review the timing and timing devices. Fill the ‘hot seat’ so there is minimum time lost between speakers. Give each
Watch your time. You may need to adjust the number of questions so your segment ends on time. The Toastmaster will let you know when to end.
BUSINESS MEETING MANAGER
As the Business Meeting Manager you use Roberts Rules of Order to address a motion that has been previously circulated and relates to some aspect of VETC’s operations.
As the Business Meeting Manager you become trained in the application of Roberts Rules of order and can apply this training in many settings.
As the General Evaluator you get the chance to practice and improve your skills in critical thinking, planning, preparation and organization, time management, motivation and team building.
There are two ways to give a general evaluation. The first is to evaluate every role which has not yet been evaluated: the Toastmaster, Sergeant At Arms, Humorist, Speech Evaluators and Table Topics Master. Phrase your evaluation so it is helpful, encouraging and motivates incumbents to implement the suggestions.
The second way is to evaluate the overall tone of the meeting: what was done well and what could be improved? Was the meeting upbeat?
Being General Evaluator is a big responsibility and it is integral to the success of every VETC member. People join VETC because they want to learn something. If the learning environment isn’t focused and fun, VETC members won’t learn what they joined to learn. Your observations and suggestions help ensure that VETC is meeting the goals and needs of its members.