Meeting Roles

Sergeant at Arms

The Sergeant at Arms must arrive early to set up the meeting venue. He or she ensures that the flag, banner, and lectern are in place and the other meeting officials and audience members have the necessary forms and other meeting utensils. After the meeting, the Sergeant at Arms tidies up the room (everyone’s help is much appreciated).

Club President

The Club President officially opens and closes the meeting. If the Club President is absent, the next highest ranking club officer will stand in as Acting President (usually the VP of Education).


The Grammarian listens carefully to every speaker and, at the end of the meeting, reports good and bad uses of language during the meeting. The Grammarian is also responsible for noting, who used the Word of the Day during Table Topics.

Ah Counter

The Ah Counter notes the use of “ums,” “ers,” and other fillers during the speeches and produces a report at the end of the meeting. At Tongue Tamers, the roles of Grammarian and Ah Counter are combined.

Vote Counter

After each of the three main sections (Table Topics, Prepared Speeches, and Evaluations) the members of the audience vote for the best performer in each category. The Vote Counter collects and tallies the votes. At Tongue Tamers, the Vote Counter may also vote. In addition, in the event of a draw, the Vote Counter casts the deciding vote (but does not tell anybody).


Most speeches have a minimum and maximum time as follows:

Table Topics: 1-2 minutes
Prepared Speeches: Usually 5-7 minutes (shorter or longer speeches may occur)
Evaluations: 2-3 minutes

The timer uses a green card or light to signal that the speaker has reached the minimum time, a yellow card or light to show that the speaker is halfway between the minimum and maximum time, and a red card or light to show that the speaker has reached the maximum time. At that point, to be eligible for a vote, the speaker has thirty seconds to finish her or his speech.

The timer reports which speakers have met the time requirements for their speeches.


The Toastmaster is responsible for organizing the meeting. During the week prior to the meeting, the Toastmaster ensures that all the meeting roles are filled, emails the agenda to the members, and, during the meeting, ensures that the meeting runs on schedule. The Toastmaster also introduces the speakers, evaluators, and other meeting roles and leads the applause.

Table Topics Master

Prior to the meeting, the Table Topics Master (TTM) devises a list of topics or questions (often on a theme related to topical events such as holidays). The TTM may also provide the “Word of the Day” to the Toastmaster. At the meeting the TTM will announce a topic or question and call upon a member of the audience to talk about it. The TTM should give preference to attendees who do not have major speaking roles and may call on guests (who have the right to decline).

Table Topics Speaker

When called upon, the Table Topics Speaker should try to speak for one to two minutes on the topic provided by the TTM. They should also try to use the “Word of the Day.” If the speaker has difficulty coming up with an impromptu speech about the topic, they are allowed to stray from the subject (sometimes quite a long way). The idea is to learn to think on your feet.

Opportunity Master

Unlike most other clubs, Tongue Tamers does not collect club membership dues. All of the membership dues go to Toastmasters International. To raise money for club expenses, there is an opportunity drawing and the Opportunity Master runs this portion of the meeting. Tickets are sold during the five-minute break and the drawing takes place toward the end of the meeting. The purchase of tickets is optional and the price is 1 for $1.00 and 3 for $2.00. Speakers and guests get a free ticket. The individual with the winning ticket wins a donated item (a book, bottle of wine, gift card, etc.).


Each week, two or three members prepare all aspects of a speech, including any visual aids, if necessary. At the meeting, they present their speech. Usually, the speakers are working from a speech manual, which provides specific guidelines for each speech. Before preparing a speech, the speaker should read the appropriate section of the manual and ensure that the speech follows as closely as possible to the guidelines in the manual. Often the guidelines will influence the subject of the speech.

Sample YouTube video of a humorous speech.


The Evaluator must listen carefully to the speaker and provide feedback about how the speech was delivered in both general terms and how it addressed the specific goals of that particular exercise in the manual. The speaker’s manual includes a one-page guideline for each manual project that lists some of the issues, to which the evaluator should be paying attention. The evaluator should provide a written evaluation in response to these questions and a 2-3 minute oral evaluation of the speech. Being an evaluator forces you to listen more critically to what you are hearing. You will also learn important leadership skills in providing encouragement and suggestions for improvement to the speaker.

The evaluation should begin by listing the positive points of the speech and then provide one or two areas for improvement. Finally, the evaluator should summarize the evaluation and, again, emphasize the strong points of the speech (ending on a “high note”). This approach is known as the “sandwich method.”

Sample YouTube video of an evaluation speech.

General Evaluator

Using the same structure as the speech evaluators, the General Evaluator emphasizes the good points of the meeting (perhaps a new member taking on an advanced role for the first time), suggests one or two areas for improvement, and provides a summary of the evaluation.