Sharpstown Toastmasters Member Guide



Table of Contents

Common Greeting
If You Cannot Attend When Scheduled As A Program Participant
Invocation & Pledge
When You Are "Toastmaster of the Meeting"
Ah Counter / Grammarian
Table Topics Master
General Evaluator
Speech Evaluation

Appendix A:
Presiding Officer Checklist
Toastmaster Worksheet
Table Topic Master’s Checklist
Timer’s Worksheet
General Evaluator’s Worksheet
Vote Counter Tally Form



"Mr. (Madam) Toastmaster, Fellow Toastmasters, and Guests." All members, male and female, are Toastmasters. The word "Toastmaster" denotes the role, not the gender. As with the word "chairman," the gender identification is accomplished by preceding the word with either "Mr." Or "Madam." There is also a concern with our organizational identity since, until very recently, there was a national organization of Toastmistresses.


The Sergeant-at-Arms plays an important role in program meetings. The Sergeant-at-Arms creates the initial club image for visitors and prepares the meeting place to lay the groundwork for a successful meeting.

The Sergeant-at-Arms should:
  1. Make an effort to arrive by at least 6:00p.m.
  2. Rearrange tables as necessary.
  3. Set out, near the door, members’ name badges, blank guest name badges, and membership pamphlets.
  4. Set up lectern, gavel, and award ribbons; hang club banner.
  5. Place timing device and TIMEKEEPING FORM at a place at the back of the room where it can readily be seen by meeting participants.
  6. Be sure the ballot counter has a TALLY FORM and the general evaluator has a GUIDELINE FORM.
  7. Distribute ballot forms at each place.
  8. Be in position as soon as possible to greet all visitors. Be sure they sign the guest book (name, address, AND phone number), give each guest a name tag, and introduce to members who will serve as hosts.
  9. Greet all members and be sure they get their name badges. Remind those without lapel pins that they should wear them to every meeting.
  10. Promptly at 6:30 p.m., close the door and present the Club President to the assembly.
  11. Assist ballot counter, as necessary, in collecting ballots immediately after completion of table topics, prepared speeches, and evaluations.
  12. After the meeting, collect badges, unused forms and equipment and place in storage. Inform Secretary when additional supplies are needed – do not run short. See that VPM has guest information for follow-up.


When you receive the program schedule (usually set up for three to four meetings in advance), check to see what roles you are scheduled to participate in. If you cannot attend on an evening when you are scheduled as a functionary, FIND YOUR REPLACEMENT. Usually you will be able to switch with a member scheduled in that role for the following meeting. NOTIFY THE TOASTMASTER OF THE PROGRAM CHANGE. If you have difficulty or if an emergency precludes your finding replacement, NOTIFY THE TOASTMASTER AT ONCE, explain circumstances, and ask that the Toastmaster find the replacement. This should be done only in emergency – YOU ARE RESPONSIBLE FOR FINDING YOUR REPLACEMENT OTHERWISE.

If you are scheduled as Toastmaster and cannot attend and have trouble finding a replacement, NOTIFY THE VICE PRESIDENT OF EDUCATION IMMEDIATELY so that the VPE can assist you in finding a replacement.


An easy way to remember which comes first is: God before Country (the prayer would be first, then the pledge). It is not essential, however, that the invocation be an actual prayer. It can be an inspirational verse or message. However, if it is not an actual prayer, the order is reversed, i.e., salute to the flag first and then the inspirational thought or message.

The pledge of allegiance should be prefaced with brief, appropriate remarks.

I pledge allegiance to the flag of the United States of America and to the republic for which it stands, one nation under God, indivisible, with liberty and justice for all.


The Toastmaster’s role is very important and requires ADVANCE PREPARATION TO ENSURE A SUCCESSFUL PROGRAM. Read the section in the Basic Communication & Leadership Manual which explains the duties and refer to "When You Are ‘Toastmaster of the Meeting’," which is attached. Introductions are very important, as is bridging between speeches.

On Receipt of Program Schedule:
  1. If you are scheduled as Toastmaster and cannot attend the meeting, try to find a replacement and/or notify Educational Vice President (see "If you cannot attend when scheduled as a program participant" above).
  2. Call scheduled program participants (expcept evaluators – the General Evaluator contacts the evaluators) no later than Monday prior to the meeting. Call speakers first.
  3. If any members assigned cannot speak, they should obtain replacement and notify Toastmaster. Follow up on this as necessary. In case of emergency, the Toastmaster may have to work with the VPE to find replacement speakers.
  4. Obtain from speakers:
    a. Title of speech
    b. Manual number and project
    c. Special notes for introduction
  5. Contact guest speakers, if any, and obtain the necessary details to prepare an effective introduction.
  6. Call General Evaluator to confirm and provide Manual Project Number for each speaker so that the General Evaluator can assign Evaluators in accordance with experience level.
  7. Contact all other program participants. Fill in "The Toastmaster’s Checklist." Prepare introductions for all program participants, with emphasis on Table Topics Master, Speakers, and General Evaluator. Be sure to make an Agenda for the evening. See the example on the back of the Toastmaster’s Checklist.

At the Meeting (before call to order):

As Toastmaster, you have primary responsibility for the program. Ensure that preparations are complete.
  1. Check that all program participants are present and prepared. If necessary appoint substitutes from other members present and ensure that they know their duties. (It is preferable to make substitutions after consultation with the Vice President of Education.)
  2. If a scheduled speaker has not arrived, request a member without an assignment to make an extemporaneous speech. (THERE SHOULD ALWAYS BE THREE, AND PREFERABLY FOUR, SPEAKERS.)
  3. Check that preparations are in progress. If the Sergeant-at Arms, Timekeeper, General Evaluator are not ready, remind them!
When you are introduced by the presiding officer:

Make appropriate opening remarks. If there is a specific theme for the meeting, tie your remarks to the theme.

INTRODUCE AH COUNTER, who will explain duties.

INTRODUCE TIME KEEPER. Timekeeper will explain/demonstrate timing procedure.

INTRODUCE GRAMMARIAN (WORD OF THE WEEK), who will present the "word-of-the-week" to be used in Table Topics and incorporated into scheduled speeches.

INTRODUCE TABLE TOPICS MASTER. Preface introduction with a reminder of the time allotted for table topics session. Table Topics session should be completed by 7:20 p.m. If Table Topics Master runs overtime, signal Table Topics Master to finish.


Before Prepared Speeches:
  1. Remind all members that they should evaluate and vote.
  2. INTRODUCE SPEAKERS. Begin by stating the manual project number and its objectives (the evaluators need not use part of their two minutes to instruct the audience on the objectives of the talk). If the audience does not know the objective, they cannot effectively vote for the best evaluator. Remember the criteria for Best Evaluator is NOT the best presentation/delivery but the best analysis and most helpful suggestions. BE SURE TO INCLUDE THE TITLE OF THE SPEECH IN THE INTRODUCTION.
  3. Offer some transition remarks between speakers. This short pause will allow for completion of evaluations.
Following the speeches:
  1. Remind all members to vote; and request the vote counter to collect the ballots.
  2. Introduce General Evaluator.
At completion of evaluations:

Offer closing remarks. RETURN CONTROL to the Presiding Officer. DON’T "turn the meeting over" to the President (unless the meeting is upside down!).



One of the most educational experiences in your club work is when you take the chair as Toastmaster and conduct the program. This assignment should not be given to you until you have made at least three regular speeches.

The primary duty of the Toastmaster is to act as a genial host, introduce the speakers in such a way as to make it easier for them to do their best and for the audience to listen with attention and anticipation. The Toastmaster creates an atmosphere of interest, expectation, and receptivity.

To do this, avoid long introductions and seek variety in form.

Don’t go into biographical details about the speaker or make his speech for him. Don’t tell him what to say. Don’t tell a story that may embarrass him. Just be friendly and genial, and give him a good start.

Don’t use the same formula for all introductions. "We have with us today" may be all right once. So is, "I take pleasure in introducing." Don’t say, "The next speaker of the meeting is …" Do not use the same form of words more than once in one meeting. Be complimentary in a dignified way…do not be "flowery" in your praise. Be brief. Treat the speaker as you would like a Toastmaster to treat you.

When you are presented as Toastmaster, begin with, "Mr. President" and with a word of thanks assume your position at the lectern. Speak a few words on the nature of the program, calculated to whet the appetites of the members. Then introduce the first speaker, and make sure of three things:
  1. Announce the subject clearly. If it is a manual speech, be sure to announce it as such, saying which one.
  2. Announce the name of the speaker so clearly that everyone can understand it.
  3. Remain standing until the speaker has taken his place and has said, "Mr. Toastmaster." Then take your seat. You may acknowledge his word to you by speaking his name, or by a nod or a gesture, but be careful not to sit down before he has greeted you with, "Mr. Toastmaster".
When his speech is finished, refrain from extensive comments on what he has said. A brief word of appreciation is good, but a lengthy review is out of place. Introduce the next speaker. If possible, build up some sort of continuity for the speeches.

At the conclusion of the program, thank the speakers briefly, and then return control of the meeting to the Presiding Officer. Never "turn the meeting over" to him unless it is upside down. You can "yield control," "return control," or "surrender the gavel" without an "overturning."

Before the meeting: Check with each speaker well in advance of the meeting. Obtain the title of his speech, agree upon the time he is to have, and get your complete schedule lined up so you can study the introductions. It is your responsibility to see that the speakers are on hand, and that the program is executed as scheduled in the best possible way.

Prepare for presiding as carefully as you would for making a speech. When you preside over a meeting, you carry the responsibility for making the occasion a success. Be sure to make a printed agenda to give to each of the members at the meeting to aid them in following the program for the evening.


Purpose of the Grammarian:
To monitor correctness of grammar and word usage and to provide feedback to program participants.

Purpose of the AH Counter:
To keep track of the use of "ahs" or other "filler" words and provide feedback to program participants.

Report of Grammarian:
Mention grammatical errors and poor word usage. DO mention names; members may be unaware that they make these mistakes unless they are specifically mentioned. Be tactful. Mention errors of broadest interest first. You have only two minutes, and you probably can’t report everything. You can always talk with members after adjournment.

Report of AH Counter:
No need to report everyone, every time. Try to introduce variety as in any other role. Give extremes, i.e., person with fewest "ahs" and most "ahs". It is okay to mention guest Toastmasters’ "ahs" if you think it would not be unduly embarrassing. If a member ordinarily has a problem with "ahs" but has a particularly good night (even thought the total may be more than that of the average member), it should be noted.

These reports are combined and given at one time when the General Evaluator calls for the report of the AH Counter/Grammarian.

WORD OF THE WEEK (Selected by the Grammarian)

Purpose of the Word of the Week: To introduce a word that may be infrequently used and to encourage its use, particularly during Table Topics session. The purpose is NOT to see how many times one can use the word but rather to use it appropriately and to pronounce it correctly.

It is preferable to have the selected word exhibited at the lectern. It is helpful to use the word in at least one sentence as an example of its use.


Table Topics (normally 2 minute unless notified otherwise with 30 sec. grace period)
1 minute = green
1.5 minutes = yellow
2 minutes = red
Prepared Speeches (normally 5-7 minutes unless notified otherwise with 30 sec. grace period)
5 minutes = green
6 minutes = yellow
7 minutes = red
Evaluations (3 minutes with 15 sec. grace period)
2 minute = green
2 ½ minutes = yellow
3 minutes = red
General Evaluator’s Meeting Evaluation (5 minutes)
3 minutes = green
4 minutes = yellow
5 minutes = red
Timekeeper’s Report:

Table Topics:
It is not necessary to read off all of the times. Give extremes, i.e., shortest and longest: closest to exact time. Mention Table Topics Speakers who were under 1 minute or over 2 minutes 30 seconds.
Mention those under 2 minutes or over 3 minutes 30 seconds.
State exact times for all prepared speeches, the General Evaluator, and the Grammarian and AH Counter/Grammarian.


Variety is desirable in Table topics. Be original but choose subjects which will enable participants to give organized speeches with an opening, body, and conclusion. If there is a meeting theme, try to choose topics around that theme. A topic session on current events is also a good choice. State the topic and then name the speaker. This causes all members to listen carefully, since they don’t know who will be called upon. Developing our listening skill is an important part of the Toastmaster program.

Generally, 15 - 20 minutes are allocated for Table Topics. Be sure to finish at 7:20 p.m. If you start late because of overtime of the business session, shorten your program.

Ask guest Toastmasterss before call to order whether they wish to participate in the Table Topics session. Encourage, but don’t push. Give members without assignments priority in speaking. Unless attendance is very low, exclude Speakers and Toastmaster. If there is insufficient time to include all other members, exclude General Evaluator, Grammarian, etc.

Remember that Table Topics is a very important part of the training program. It is your responsibility to perform well and to stimulate the members so that they gain the greatest possible benefit from participation. Read the section on Table Topics in the Basic C & L Manual, and ask the Educational Vice President for help, if needed.

Before meeting begins:
  1. Note the names of members to be excluded from participation.
  2. Be sure you know the names of guest Toastmasters who wish to participate.
When you are introduced:
  1. Instruct members to stick to the subject and make a miniature speech with an opening, a body, and a conclusion.
  2. Be brief and clear with your subject introduction to each speaker. State the topic and then name the speaker.
  3. At the end of the program, remind members to vote on the basics of the best speech (not necessarily the loudest laugh).

Evaluation is the principal training factor in Toastmastering. Without it the speaker will not benefit fully from the assignment. Therefore, it must be done well, and it is the General Evaluator’s responsibility to ensure that it is.

Read the General Evaluator section of the Basic C & L Manual. Prepare for this role and tell your individual evaluators what you expect them to do.

Before the meeting:
  1. Be sure the Toastmaster tells you the manual number for each speaker. If the Toastmaster doesn’t contact you, call the Toastmaster yourself.
  2. Phone each evaluator to confirm attendance. Assign to speakers in accordance with experience level of speakers and evaluators. Convey any special instructions. (Remind evaluators that evaluations are limited to 2 to 3 minutes.)
At the meeting:
  1. 1. If there are vacancies, assign replacements. Try to choose members who have no other assignment for the evening. Guests may serve as evaluators only if they are active Toastmasters.
  2. 2. Remind each evaluator to contact the speaker to obtain the training manual or determine purpose of speech (if not a manual project).
It is your duty to observe the entire meeting and make notes of good or bad procedures and performances. (Do not comment on speeches unless you feel the individual evaluator missed a very important point.)

Concentrate on important factors which will improve future meetings. Give praise where it is due, but do not fail to mention inferior performance, preparation, or behavior and suggest alternatives. Don’t just point out a deficiency; provide a solution.

Be sure to review performance of each evaluator. Evaluators are learning also, just as speakers are.

Comment about the timeliness of individual participants and of meeting as a whole.

Comment on the use of the word of the week.


Evaluations are limited to two to three minutes. Refer to evaluator section of Basic C & L Manual and to the judge’s guide for evaluation contests. These are the points that a good evaluator covers.

Evaluators are to be positive but should always include constructive suggestions for improvement. Begin and end on a positive note. You need not mention everything; you can’t in three minutes. You provide a written evaluation as well. A good rule to remember is: If it could be embarrassing, don’t say it, write it.

Manual Speech:
Evaluate in accordance with the purpose of the project. Did the speaker meet the objectives of the project? How could the objectives have been met better? What did the speaker do well? Now can the speaker improve or further develop that which is good about the presentation? Don’t evaluate points not yet introduced in the manual, i.e., a speaker making manual speech #3 (organizing your speech) does not have to incorporate gestures (#4 project) or vocal variety (#5 project).
Non-manual Speech:
Ask the speaker about the purpose and ask if there is any particular feedback the member desires. You may want to try the "GOOD, BETTER, BEST" approach for non-manual speeches, i.e., these are the thing s the speaker did well, these are the things the speaker could do better (tell the speaker how), and this it what I liked about the speeches.Always encourage speakers to make manual speeches in the future.
Delivery is secondary when evaluating. It only counts for 5%. Far more important is the evaluator’s ability to analyze the speech and offer constructive help to the speaker.

  1. The purpose of evaluation is to point out a speaker’s strengths and weaknesses and help him/her to become a better speaker by suggesting ways for improvement.
  2. The Evaluator, before listening to the speech, should investigate the speaker’s level of development and capacity for criticism. This will determine how hard or how light the evaluation should be.
  3. Destructive criticism which tears apart a speech causes hard feelings and resentment. Nor is the solution to "whitewash" the speaker; this only tends to reinforce bad speech habits. The balance lies in taking a constructive approach.
  4. Your recommendations should be positive and constructive – not negative.
    Eye contact poor
    Voice weak
    Look at us more
    Speak louder
    Make firm clear movements
    Practice speech one more time
    Finish at requested time
  5. Vague generalizations are useless. Always give specific illustrations from the speech itself in support of your comments about both strengths and weaknesses.
  6. An evaluation is a short speech, which should be structured like any other speech. There should be an opening, a body, and a close. The Opening should put the speaker in a receptive frame of mind by complimenting him on several good points. The Body should cover one or two principal areas for improvement, chosen from the guidelines which follow. Recommendations should be positive and constructive. Specific illustrations should be taken from the speech. The Close – tell the speaker how to take advantage of his/her strong points and encourage him/her to continue.

An evaluation should offer two or three constructive points for improvement. It should be divided into three major sections, i.e., content, language and delivery. Use the following suggestions for each section as a guide in preparing your comments for the speaker.

Content (Type of speech, title, opening, body, close)
  1. Type: Was it an informational, motivational or entertaining speech? Did the type selected suit the speaker’s topic and message?
  2. Title: Was the title appropriate and interesting?
  3. Opening: Was it concise? Was it memorized? Did it indicate the purpose of the speech? Did it arouse attention and interest?
  4. Body: Was the subject matter appropriate to the audience and the occasion? Was the subject matter meaningful and original? Were there too many points? Three points are usually adequate for a seven minute speech. Were these points supported by relevant facts, illustrations, figures and appropriate humor? Was the material well organized? Most important point should come last. There should be orderly sequence and smooth transitions. Was the material concise? Did the speaker prune excessive points, illustrations and all non-essentials?
  5. Close: Did it summarize and resolve? Was it dramatic? Did it call for action?
  1. Choice of correct words – short word preferable to long, familiar to unfamiliar.
  2. Vocabulary development.
  3. Short sentences.
  4. Use of questions, quotations, alliteration.
  5. Vivid phraseology, good grammar and correct pronunciation.
  6. Avoid jargon, clichés, and off-color remarks.
Delivery: (stance, gestures, eye contact, voice projection.)
  1. Stance: Poised and relaxed.
  2. Gestures should relate effectively to speech. Make firm clear movements. Avoid meaningless mechanical movements. Smile…facial expression should change to express meaning. Eliminate distracting mannerisms. Avoid clasping hands, rocking, moving about aimlessly, gripping lectern or playing with notes. Note gestures in margin of speech script. Practice in mirror.
  3. Eye contact is essential. Look at individuals in different parts of the room. Too much reference to notes is distracting for the audience. Speech notes should be studied and rehearsed and then transferred from original script to brief printed cues on 8" x 5" or 5" x 3" cards.
  4. Voice Projection:
    Pitch: Relax throat – ascertain normal pitch – avoid monotony.
    Pace: Normal pace 160-170 words per minute – slow down for emphasis – speed up for variety. Pauses for punctuation. Dramatic pause very effective before and after important statement of punch line.
    Power: correct depth of breathing – use of diaphragm – normal volume, not too loud or soft – vary to avoid monotony.
    Articulation: Use of lips and tongue – emphasis.
    Quality: confidence, enthusiasm and friendliness. Vary pitch, pace and power maintaining quality and articulation. Lean toward audience…speak softly, slowly and clearly, then increase power, pace and inflection dramatically.
Note vocal effects in the margin of speech script.

Proper voice projection is a skill and requires regular practice. Listen to tape recordings of famous speakers and outstanding actors. Practice reading aloud – speeches, stories, poetry. Vocal scales and singing are also helpful. Concentrate on daily speech habits.

Appendix A: Checklists
Presiding Officer Checklist
Toastmaster Worksheet
Table Topic Master’s Checklist
Timer’s Worksheet
General Evaluator’s Worksheet
Vote Counter Tally Form

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