Duty Roles

Duty Roles

Here are some tips and tricks to help out newer members prepare for various duties.

  • Invocator
  • Timer
  • Ballot Counter
  • Ahhh Counter
  • Word Master
  • Grammarian
  • Table Topics Master
  • Evaluator
  • General Evaluator
  • Toastmaster of the Day

Invocator:

  • You are the designated member who will give some words of inspiration and will lead the group in the Pledge of Allegiance at the beginning of the meeting, as soon as the TM invites you to do so.
  • The type of invocations depends on if you are religious (and want us to know) or not. If the first applies, pick a short prayer or quotation that you feel would be appropriate for us. It doesn’t matter which religion.
  • If the second applies, then pick a quote (or very short story) from any source that you feel appropriate that would leave us feeling inspired. You can also connect the invocation with the theme of the day.
  • Keep it to a maximum of 2 minutes, including the Pledge.
  • You will be one of the first people to address the group, so please arrive on time.

 

Timer:

  • You will need to announce your duty at the beginning. As part of that, you need to include the following:
    • Table Topics are two minutes.
    • Evaluations are three minutes.
    • Speeches are normally seven minutes, but may be longer.
    • When there is 2 minutes left, the green light comes on
    • When there is 1 minute left, the yellow light comes on
    • When their time is up, the red light comes on
    • There is a 30 second “grace” period after the red light comes on. After that, the red light will begin to flash (the computer may beep) and we will all applaud until you stop talking and sit down.
    • NOTE: For ice breaker speeches only, the screen will blink, but there will be no beeping and we will not applaud or interrupt your speech.
    • There is no fine if you speak too long or not long enough.
    • At the end of the meeting, you will give your report
  • NOTE: The above rules only apply to our club. Contests (and some other clubs) use a different set of rules. The computer timer can be adjusted to use those instead, if desired.
  • At the end of the meeting, you will need to give a report of the allocated and used time for each speaker, TT, and Evaluator (including the GE).
  • For speeches, if you have a range of minutes, use the high value to set the timer.
  • Don’t start timing the General Evaluator until the other evaluators have done their evaluations
  • Start the timer as soon as the person says a word – regardless of what it is or why they say it.
  • Timing Options:
    • If using the computer based timer:
      • Press Enter to start and ESC to stop (you can also click the buttons, but pressing the keys can be done even if you can’t see the screen)
      • There are options to choose the type of presentation. If you choose Evaluations or Table Topics, it will set the time for you and it can’t be changed.
      • The option for “Contest values” tells it to time the way a contest is timed, not the way we usually time TT and Evals.
      • If you choose speech or custom, you can enter the amount of time for the speech. The time is entered as numbers, not times. Since most presentations are measured in whole numbers, this is usually not a problem. But if you want 3 1/2 minutes, use 3.5 for the time.
      • If this is an icebreaker, click on the check box to not make any noise if they are over time (but you can still let if flash.)
      • When you press ESC (or click on the Stop button) the amount of time used will show on the screen.
    • If using the manual timer.
      • In the event that a computer timer is unavailable, you can still time using a watch. You should have one that has a second hand. If you do not, ask to borrow one from a member.
      • There are three colored pieces of paper, shaped like circles – in Green, Yellow, and Red. At the appropriate time, hold up the circle with the appropriate color. Do not put it down until you are sure the speaker has seen the paper.
      • If the speaker goes overtime, start the applause

     

    Ballot Counter:

    • Your role is to collect and process the votes for best speaker, best evaluator and best table topic speaker. At the beginning of the meeting, the TM will ask you how you want the ballots.
    • Some people like to wait until the very end of the meeting and then count up the votes for each category. Others prefer to get the votes after each section (TT, speeches, and evaluations). This second option provides with more time to count so there is less rush at the end of the meeting. It also prevents people from changing their vote based on the evaluator’s feedback. However, you can pick whatever seems more comfortable to you. Advise the group when the TM asks you. This will be a good time for you to drop the “Word of the day”. If there is a guest, it would be appropriate to describe your role briefly so he/she understands the way the club works.
    • Remember that the General Evaluator is also eligible to be best evaluator, so you don’t want to collect ballots (or evaluator ballots) until the GE is done.
    • Write out the winners for each category and give it to the president who will present the awards to the whole group.
    • Give to each speaker the slips with the feedback from the audience.

     

    Ah Counter – You can count anything that is an unnecessary filler such as:

    • Your job is to track those times when someone makes a noise to fill the blank space that happens while they try to think. Examples are:
      • Ahhh, Ummm,
      • You Know
      • OK, so
      • Repeated words (I I, You you, etc.)
      • Like, basically (as in “I am, like, so into things.  Basically, I just love them all.” – both words are redundant.
    • At the beginning of the meeting, you will be asked to explain your duties.
      • You will track each ahhh, ummm, etc. for each person
      • At the end of the meeting, you will give a report
      • The fine will be 5 cents for each infraction.
      • There is a maximum fine of 50 cents (or 10 infractions.)
    • In your report at the end of the meeting:
      • Identify each person who spoke and the total number of infractions.
      • Tell them how much money they owe (remember, the maximum is 50 cents, even if they had 72 infractions.)
      • You may want to group them in a way similar to the list above.

     

    Word Master – This is an easy job if you plan well.

    • Here are some tips for getting a word:
      • You can pick a word from the dictionary.
      • Read the “Enrich your vocabulary” quiz in Readers Digest
      • The Word of the Day on Merriam-Webster
    • When you have picked a word, use MS Word or some other editor to print it out. Use the following guidelines:
      • Use Landscape so it prints “sideways” on the paper
      • Print the word in the largest font that will fit on the page
      • Include a definition of the word under the word – again use the largest font that you can (but usually less than the word itself) so that the members can read the definition from a distance.
      • If you can, print this on both sides – so you can read it while you are showing it to us.
      • There should be a paperclip attached to the front of the lectern on which you can attach the word. Before the meeting starts, try to make sure that the clip is there. If not, ask the Sergeant at Arms to find it for you. Otherwise, try to get some tape from the hotel front desk (Fletcher often has some in his computer case as well.)
    • Remember that there is a twenty five cent find for anyone who speaks and does not use the word.

     

    Grammarian – This is an easy job. No fines and even better, no worries about right or wrong. If you catch an error, tell us about it. If it is you who are wrong instead, no big deal. Just try your best. You can always listen for some of these types of errors

    • Incorrect use of a plural when singular should be used (adding an “s” to a word when you shouldn’t.
    • Mixing past and present tenses
    • Dangling participles. Remember that a participle is never a word to end a sentence with! (NOTE: The previous sentence is a good example of a dangling participle – use “with which to end a sentence” instead.

     

    Table Topics Master – Your job is to ask questions of the members. The idea is for them to practice answering questions with little or no preparation. The topic of the day is in the schedule. You can get a copy of the schedule by contacting the VP of Education – but you should be emailed one automatically. You can get ideas of questions to ask by doing research on Google or other search engine. But here are some good links for you as well:

    A few key things to remember:

    • Come prepared with at least 5 or 6 questions. It is better to have enough than to run out.
    • After you have asked 3, look to the TM. They will give you a signal if they want you to stop. Otherwise, keep going.
    • Some people will take very little time to answer. Others may take quite a bit of time and be clapped down. Leave it to the TM to manage the time since they know how much they have allocated for TT.
    • With 3 speakers and evaluators, you should have time for 3 questions. With fewer speakers, you will have more time for questions unless one of the speakers has a much longer speech time allocation. Check with the TM ahead of time to make sure you have enough questions.
    • If you run out of questions and can’t think of any, then re-ask one or more of your questions to a different person.
    • Always call on members who have NO duties first. Then those with “light” duties (anything other than SP, EV, GE, TM). If you feel you need to call on someone in that last group, start with the EV as the others may be busy getting ready for the next portion of the meeting.

    Evaluator:

    • Here are some tips for you to remember while evaluating the speech:
      • Try to avoid commenting on the subject matter. For example, he may do a speech on pro choice and you may be pro life. It is really easy to contribute your opinions on the topic. But that is not your job. Your job is to identify how well he delivered his topic – even if you totally disagreed with it
      • The speaker’s manual has two sections. The first is the information they used to create the speech. This is not required reading although I do try to read through it so I get a better idea of the guidelines he had to create the speech. The second (and more important part) is the evaluation section. This gives you an overview of what they are to accomplish by the speech and a series of questions or things for you to observe while they are speaking. You can mark in the book (that’s what it’s for) so they can have the comments down the road.
      • How relaxed was he? Was he tied to the lectern?
      • Eye contact – did he try to look people in the eye when he talked to them or did his eyes just “float” over the heads of the audience
      • Did his voice change from it’s normal volume and tone when he needed to make a point?
        • Did it get loud or soft?
        • What about the pitch – did that change much?
      • Gestures – Did he “pray” – holding his hands in front of him as if he were praying. Or did he hold his hands in some other way that wasn’t conducive to his presentation. Generally, his hands should be at his side (not in his pocket) except when gesturing. When he does gesture, do they add to his presentation or is he “speaking” with his gestures rather than creating an effect?
      • Body language? Did he smile or use other facial gestures to make a point or relax the audience? What other body language things did he do that affected how you felt about the presentation?
      • Did he have a good opening? Did it get your attention?
      • Was the content presented in such a way that it kept your attention?
      • Did he have a conclusion that wrapped up what he said?
        • Did it seem hurried?
        • Did it leave you with a “satisfied” feeling?
      • If he didn’t use or look at his notes much – did the presentation seem to flow well? Did he jump around or seem to back track to get points he accidentally missed because he wasn’t using the notes?
      • Did it appear as if he had rehearsed it and was familiar with the subject matter and how he was going to deliver it?
    • Here are some tips for you to remember while preparing and presenting your evaluation:
      • As you go over the list, identify the things he did well and the things that he might have some room to improve. As you get ready to do your spoken evaluation, pick the top two – four of each and present those. After the meeting, you can give him your notes which may identify more than the ones you mention out loud – so don’t try to cram in so many points that you run out of time. You will have three minutes to do the evaluation – but you might be surprised by how fast the time can go.
      • Don’t say “You should”, instead use phrases like “If I were doing this, I would….” or “You might consider”. In other words, you don’t want to tell him what to do, just give him ideas of what you might do.
      • Try to mimic things the speaker did wrong so that he can see why you felt that way. So if he was praying, you might stand there holding your hands the same way. But before then, make sure you have them at your side, then get them back there again (even if they don’t stay there – hands are horrible things – always trying to get in the way and jump all over the place…. 🙂 )

    General Evaluator

    During the week, the General Evaluator is responsible for the following:

    • Providing an introduction to the TM
    • Contacting the Toastmaster of the Day early in the week.
    • Contacting all the Evaluators for the meeting and assigning them to a given speaker. Of course, until you know who will be speaking, this can be hard to do, hence the previous item.
    • Get a small amount of information to use for a brief introduction of each evaluator.
    • Paying attention to how well the TM communicates and prepares during the week.

    During the meeting:

    • Your first and highest priority is to provide feedback to the evaluators (how can they improve otherwise?) One approach is to evaluate each speaker as if you were evaluating them. Then compare your notes to what was said by the evaluator. But also look for other things including:
      • How well did they explain the pros and cons of the presentation?
      • Did they evaluate the speech or the content (we are learning to speak better, how well did they do in presenting their topic, regardless of what it may have been. For example, if the speech was on gay marriage, did the evaluator waste time giving an “opposing” view instead of focusing on how the speech was delivered? The most common exception to this rule might be if it were a speech “to persuade” in which case, the evaluator could indicate if they were persuaded or not.
      • Where possible, did they demonstrate the pro or con as they explained it?
      • Did they have a roughly equal number of pros and cons?
      • Was the evaluation appropriate for the speaker’s skill level?
      • Was the constructive feedback given in a positive way?
      • For opinion issues, did the evaluator use terms like “I felt that …” or “I prefer to …”, etc.?
      • Did they finish on time?
    • Once you have evaluated the evaluators, use the remaining time to evaluate the TM and meeting overall. This might include:
      • Was the organization during the week handled well or did the TM wait until the last minute?
      • Was the TM well prepared for the meeting?
      • Were unexpected issues handled well?
      • Did the meeting flow smoothly?
      • If guests were there, were they properly introduced?
      • Were the duties clearly explained?
      • Was the TT Master prepared for as many questions as the TM needed to fill the time? Were they appropriate for the topic?
      • Were all the speakers (SP, GE, and TT) properly introduced? If not, was it the TM’s fault or did the member not provide adequate information to use for an introduction? If the latter, how well did the TM handle it?

    Toastmaster of the Day

    • OK, you have done all the other duties and are now ready for this one. Think back on your experiences with the other duties. How did the various TMs interact with you? What seemed to help you and what did not? What could the TM have done to make your task easier, more fun, less frustrating, etc.? Then think about how you could address those issues when you are TM.
    • The easiest way to plan the meeting is to use the spreadsheet used by the VPE to schedule duties – it has a special meeting planning section that helps confirm members and generate an agenda for you.  Contact the VPE for more details.
    • Review the schedule to see who has what duties. Then send an E-mail to the list identifying all the people who have duties (and what they are). Again, think back to similar E-mails you have received. Send this to the main list so that people know you are on top of the tasks.
    • Hopefully, when people reply, they will reply to you (not the list) since the other members don’t need to know if a given member will or will not do their duty.
    • While you might list the evaluators in your initial E-mail, it is the GEs responsibility to contact the evaluators and assign them to speakers, not yours. Why make more work for yourself than you need.
    • Speaking of the GE, they can be a big help in getting ready for the meeting.
    • If someone lets you know that they cannot perform a given task, ask them (nicely of course) to please try to find a replacement and then let you know who they found. You will have enough on your hands so that it is easier to have the member find the replacement.
    • Identify one TM member who is very experienced and can fill in for any role. Contact them to confirm they will be at the meeting and ask them if they can be your “emergency” backup. If a member oversleeps or just doesn’t show up, you can fall back on this person to bail you out without having to run around last minute.
    • For each speaker, the TT, and the GE, request information that you can use to introduce them. Ask them how they feel about the topic of the day, how long have they been in Toastmasters, or any other information that you can use in their introduction.
    • Either use the spreadsheet the VPE uses to schedule the meetings or get a template of the meeting schedule from the Yahoo Groups site (in the files section) and use that to figure out who you will call and in what order. Some people like to identify the Ahh counter and Word Master first so that they can start listening for infractions immediately. And then call on them last at the end of the meetings when people are giving their report. This way, they can get the most revenue for the club
    • Remember to call the joke master after the last duty report. You can identify the joke master when you are asking people to explain their duties, but they usually won’t say anything until the end. You do have the option to call them BEFORE the ahh counter though….
    • If you have to double up any duties, DO NOT give the ballot counter an additional duty that requires a report at the end of the meeting (they need that time to tally ballots, etc.)
    • When the meeting starts, be aware of any guests. If we have guests, make sure that the duties and purposes of each part of the meeting are clearly explained so the guest understands the various ways they can benefit.
    • Contact the TT master in advance and make sure they have AT LEAST 5 questions. You control the time of the meeting. If you have two 5-7 minute speeches, you have time for at least 5 TT questions (or more if some people speak for a very short time.) Please provide the TT master with the following lists:
      • All the members with no duties at all (so they will have at least one chance to speak during the meeting)
      • All members (and the duty) who have “light duties (ahh counter, ballot counter, etc.) so they can be called on if there are few or no members without a duty.
      • Remind the TT that they should not be calling on members who are performing any of the following jobs: GE, TM, SP, or E. These people should only be called if all the other members have been called first – and then, start with the Evaluators first.
      • Remind the TT not to call on any guests (unless they are current TM members in another club or former members of our club.)
      • After the third question, expect the TT Master to look at you for a signal. Should they keep going or not? Look at your schedule. If they ask another question, will it result in the meeting going late? If not, go for it. Remember that we used to have 3 speakers (and evaluators) per meeting, so you should have time unless a speaker is giving a long speech.
      • NOTE: The spreadsheet the VPE has will generate a list of minor/no duty members for you.
    • Try to contact your speakers early in the week to give them time to prepare. Ask them which manual they will be using to create their speech (we want to encourage members to speak from the manuals.)
    • Introductions:
      • Your GE can be introduced with a standard introduction. (Remember that they will then introduce each evaluator.)
      • Each speaker should be introduced with the introduction you received from them (hopefully in advance.) You should then also specify the following:
        • Speech title
        • Manual used
        • Purpose of the speech
        • Time range
        • NOTE: if a non manual speech, there should still be a title, purpose, and time range.
      • Don’t forget to send your introduction to the President to be used to introduce you!
    • Remember that the Sgt. at arms will start the meeting and call up the President of the club. That person will then call on the invocator. Following that, they will introduce you. Make sure you have sent them information for them to use for your introduction.
    • If you have to call on any members to fill in at the last minute, remember to update the member lists you give to the TT master.
    • If you are in a position of having to find a replacement because some member did not have any consideration for you, consider the following:
      • Use newer members to fill in for light duties (provided they have done it at least once before.)
      • Use seasoned members to fill in for more involved duties. You have a number of members who can perform SP, E, GE, and/or TT duties with little or no preparation. Don’t “waste” them by giving them a “light” duty until you are sure your major duties are filled.
    • When you are done, you will return control of the meeting to the President who will announce the winners, bring up any club business, review next week’s duties, etc. Your job is done after you call up the joke master.

    Feel free to submit any additional Tips and Tricks of your own. Just send them to the Webmaster.

  • The agenda template is available NVTM agenda template