Toastmasters - Collected Wisdom

These are summaries of the collected wisdom of contributors to a Toastamsters newsgroup which operated between 1995 and 2008 and ToastmastersPrime, a Google group which commenced in 2008. This is not an official Toastmasters site, but is an edited collection of posts from the newsgroup and the Google group. These groups provide an unofficial means of communicating for an enthusiastic group of Toastmasters from throughout the world.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

When you are the Toastmaster of the day

In January 1998, Gloria was preparing an educational segment on the duties of The role of Toastmaster in the Meeting. Introducing speakers is not covered in this post, because it was dealt with in the previous one When you are the Toastmaster of the day.

The idea of a Backwards meeting came up, which is dealt with the the next post.

Her question: What is the MOST important duty of the Toastmaster during the meeting?

Joseph would have to vote for "starting and ending the meeting on time with a minimum of headache and heartache for the audience".

For Rick the goal of the toastmaster is to have a successful meeting. This means the speakers need to do well and the business meeting needs to go well. The business meeting is out of the toasmaster’s control, so that leaves the speakers. If the speakers are exciting, the members will forget other minor problems.

Does the speaker have everything the need set up? Make sure the room is setup and ready to go.

When they get to the front of the room, the audience wants them to start not fiddle with equipment or props. If they have problems, what can you do to solve them.

When I’ve been in the toastmaster position at conferences, I’ve had to have the conference center adjust the temperature below 83 F. I have also flipped overheads for a speaker who couldn’t wear a livelier mike. (She didn’t have a belt or pickets for the connector to clip to.)

For Owen, the most important role is to call the participants BEFORE the meeting and remind them to prepare! If everyone else is ready, anyone at a Toastmasters meeting can step in and wing it as emcee at the meeting, but if your speakers don't have speeches prepared, your TTM doesn't have any topics in mind, and your Wordmaster doesn't have a dictionary definition prepared to display at the front of the room, your meeting will fall into chaos even if the emcee shows up fully prepared for everything that SHOULD happen, but now won't.

Gretchen thinks of the word "TREAT".

The letters in the word treat stand for:

THEME Generally as Toastmaster, I select a theme for a meeting I'm chairing. I use a theme to provide a uniformed focus for the entire meeting.

ROLES AND AGENDA When I type agendas for meetings, I become aware of who has signed up for roles and what roles I will need to fill. Because one of the duties of the Toastmaster is to introduce the participants, I call each person on the program to verify their participation and to ask them to write out a short paragraph of introduction for me to use at the meeting.

EXPECTATIONS: Theings don't always work out as I plan. There often are last minute changes.

AUDIENCE KNOWLEGE If there are new members and/or guests, I will need to explain the what and whys of each part of the meeting.

TRANSITIONS Between different parts of the program, tranisitions are needed. I introduce my theme at the begainning of the meeting and then focus my transitional comments on the theme. I've found it is helpful to develop four or five. I use my tranisitions while members are filling out their ballots. They can also be used to refocus the group after break.

Being Toastmaster is no longer a chore for me. It is a TREAT and can be for you--JUST DO IT!"

In Bill's opinion, Creating and maintaining enthusiasm are very important.

I have attended some very poor meetings (form wise) that have been great because of the enthusiasm of the Toastmaster. On the other hand I have attended some very well run meetings (form wise) that have been a disaster because the Toastmaster had no enthusiasm for the job.

Of course if you can have a meeting with great form presented with enthusiasm that would be my choice :-)

For David, the role is to keep the program moving and upbeat.

Joy makes all participants feel welcome and appreciated. That includes good introductions for speakers.

It also includes leading the applause when appropriate - after introducing each speaker and after each speaker or other participant has concluded. In many clubs the applause is not uniform. Some people are applauded and some aren't. This doesn't help morale.

Also, it's very important that visitors and new members know what's going on. If participants don't fully explain their roles, expand on their explanations. Remember, visitors and new members probably don't understand the terms CTM, ATM, DTM, etc.. If you use them - or if someone else uses these terms, explain.

In December 1999, Steve was First Time Toastmaster and would like to do it a bit different that those who have before....variety, hopefully, is the spice of life. Is it OK to vary things like getting people , instead of clapping, after each speech to yell and cheer, or is that considering a bit out-of-line for a tm ask?

Unless you are following a theme where yelling and cheering would be appropriate (like a circus theme, etc), Ledeema wouldn't suggest that. There are a number of other things you might do though such as set a special theme as long as you do it enough ahead of time to let everyone know about it.

Dennis suggested thinking about the transitions and introductions and how they relate to your theme.
Talk to each person with a role and ask for a specific piece of information which relates to the theme and use it in the introduction. I like to use quotes as a device to introduce the different parts of the meeting, maybe that will lend focus.
I suggest that if you want cheering pick a sports theme and introduce the role-players as if they are members of the team:
An example from one of Gloria's agendas and football:
Timer = Running Back - "running the stopwatch"
Grammarian = Defensive Coordinator - watching our language
Toastmaster = Quarterback
Tipster = Color Commentator
Table topics = Safety - "safe from answering"
Speaker = center -"center stage"
General Evaluator = Offensive Coordinator
Evaluator = Coach

This list doesn't have to make overwhelming sense, it only has to provide a "jump-off" for you as Toastmaster! Be sure to warn people what's in store and ask them to design their TT questions or even speechs around your theme (if they can). Bring them to the lectern like introducing team at start of game and lead the cheer then!

Pull various parts together with sports quotes, and maybe have your members with roles wear the shirts and sweatshirts of their favorite teams. And your intros can involve the members involvement in a sport or their favorite fan moment.

Just remember as Toastmaster, if you are having fun and are showing lots of energy, your members will be having fun and showing lots of energy. And a sports theme can lend itself to a positive reinforcement and success message.

JohnF would feel uncomfortable speaking at a meeting where my speech were greeted with yells and cheers. That doesn't mean the idea might not work at an occasional meeting, but I'd check out the climate in your club and make sure the members are on side before proceeding with it.
That said, there are other ways to shift a bit out of the ordinary.

One I coordinated recently was a meeting with a panel discussion. I will admit, I was motivated less by a desire to be different and more by a desire for manual credit. Piloting a panel is a manual project in one of the advanced manuals. However, if there is a member in your club who is working on one of the more unusual projects in one of the advanced manuals, perhaps you could team up with this member to help him or her achieve the advanced manual credit while getting a meeting with a difference. For example, the advanced manual Communicating on Television has a couple of talk show projects that could create an interesting twist to a meeting.

In Terry's opinion, it is not out of line for the TM to request this. The TM establishes the ground rules for the meeting. Now, you may want to warm them up to the idea in some way, especially if the club is usually reserved. A warm up may be to have them cheer their favorite rugby team. As TM you can seek to get out of the box. The key will be to lead the others out of the box with you.

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