Chairing a Toastmasters Meeting

This page has guidelines for chairing a Toastmasters meeting.

Chairperson is Toastmaster of the Meeting

When you are chairperson  or Toastmaster for a meeting, there is a lot to do.  

Here are some tips for running a successful fun-filled Toastmasters meeting.  

  1. Begin a few days after the last meeting.

    Contact and remind those who are scheduled to speak at the next meeting.
    As soon as possible confirm the following participants:-

    • Scheduled speakers
    • Speech evaluators
    • Table Topics Master
    • General Evaluator
    • Timekeeper
    • Assistant Sergeant at Arms (who welcomes everyone as they arrive; brings the milk and biscuits, puts the zip on, sets out the cups and cleans up afterwards).
  2. Prepare the Agenda to make an interesting meeting - typed or written.

    Work out the time for speaking and the interval (108 minutes for a 2 hour meeting). The rest gets used up in change-over times, interjections etc.
    Remember to give evaluators "space" to prepare their evaluation (ie evaluations should not be scheduled for immediately after the speech being evaluated!)
    The President usually conducts the General Business (allow 5 minutes). In his/her absence the Vice President Education takes over.

  3. 3-5 days before the meeting

    Confirm the speakers and evaluators are still available.

    Obtain the title of the speeches and manual assignment details.

    Make sure you have the correct timing for each speech, as different manuals often have longer or shorter timings than the standard time of 5-7 minutes.

    Note apologies from those who are unable to attend.

    It is helpful to e-mail the agenda to all members at this point, wait a day or two to see if there are any amendments, and then the agenda can be 'finalised' and e-mailed the day before the meeting.

  4. On the Day of the Meeting

    Arrive early and ensure that your Assistant Sergeant at Arms arrives early too.
    If your club has one, put the Toastmasters meeting sign outside the meeting venue.

    Place copies of the Agenda near the door or on a table for people to collect.
    Help organise the room, set up the banner and charter, chairs, whiteboard, lectern, overhead projector, displays etc.

    Make sure Assistant Sergeant at Arms is at the door to welcome guests and members, take down the name of any guests and who will be introducing them. Guests should wear name tags and sign the club's Visitor Book.

    All members should be wearing their Toastmasters name tags.

  5. Start of the Meeting

    • Check that all the speakers and evaluators have arrived; if not you will need to arrange some "cover" for their allotted assignment- ask if anyone has a speech that is already prepared and are able to fill in, or use your "hot seat" speaker or evaluator if available.
    • Start the meeting on time.
    • Introduce yourself, and warm up the meeting with a few welcoming remarks.
    • Read out the apologies and make sure all guests are introduced by their sponsor.
    • Notify members of any alterations to the Agenda before the meeting gets underway.
  6. During the Meeting

    Explain various duties briefly for visitors as each event begins.

    Stand to introduce the speakers and remain standing until they take their speaking position.

    Alternatively call upon the Introducers (Evaluators) to introduce each speaker.

    Lead the applause during the meeting and add a word or two to bridge the gap before the next event. You could use jokes, quotes, stories, or reflections on the last speech.

  7. Close of the Meeting

    Thank all the speakers and evaluators, Assistant Sergeant at Arms, Timer, members and guests for coming.

    Give a general reminder about the next meeting, especially if it includes a competition or something special. (This should be noted on the Agenda as well.)
    Finish on time and close the meeting.

    Help tidy up the meeting room and put away all equipment and resources.

    Leave the room clean and tidy.

Gain Recognition

Have your performance as a Chairperson evaluated and gain credit.

Speech 5 from the Specialty Speeches Advanced Manual is called "Introduce the Speaker". The objectives are to fulfil the functions of Master of Ceremonies, and handle the introduction of speakers at a club meeting. This is an ideal assignment to complete when you are the chairperson. Arrange for an Evaluator, or the General Evaluator to complete the Evaluation Guide for this assignment. Staple the agenda to your evaluation in the manual.

You can also gain credits towards the Competent Leadership Award, Projects 5, 7, 8, 10.

Links to More Resources

For more information on the role of Chairperson/Toastmaster, look in the Competent Communication manual, pages 73-74.