Enjoy taking up a meeting role

Margherita Brodbeck Roth, DTM

Members join Toastmasters because they want to speak, to hone their leadership skills, or to enjoy their time. We can provide all these experiences at once, but at times filling in meeting roles is challenging. Some Members can attend in person meetings regularly, others are Zoom surfers around the globe or they need a break. They can feel overwhelmed by experienced speakers ro they look for a challenge. 

Still, to ensure that every club will strive, it is important to encourage the active and balanced participation of every club Member. We need support along the completion of our chosen Path first understanding how to use tools such as BaseCamp, EasySpeak, Zoom or even WhatsApp. Those skills make us to shine at work as well and we become digital citizens.

It is true that many members initially only focus on giving speeches. However, it is our duty to educate each other and see learning potential in all meeting roles. The Meeting Chair, introduces the Toastmaster, opens the stage, and paves the way to a successful meeting. The Toastmaster guides through the meeting and ensures it will run smoothly. The General Evaluator takes a step back, observes meetings from a bird’s eye perspective and works with their team; the Grammarian helps honing language skills, the Ah-Counter ensures we curb the use of filler words and the Timer watches over the good use of time.  In these roles we make use of listening skills, focus on not getting distracted from fulfilling a task and respectfully give feedback

The Topicsmaster uses their creativity and research acumen to support the practice of impromptu speaking. Each Meeting Speaker is supported by an Evaluator who will highlight a speech’s strong points and what could have been done differently. Depending on the meeting format, a Zoom Master, and a Digital Appearance Master, who will facilitate the set-up and running of a hybrid meeting, develop their technical wizardry and make the magic happen.

With every role we develop skills and techniques that will help us navigate private and business challenges alike. Therefore, it is rewarding not only to look for a coveted speaker’s slot but to practice all other meeting roles as well. How often should we take a role until sharing a prepared speech? Milan Easy Toastmasters Club’s “Toastmasters D109 Speakers Magic Formula” answers the question in a few seconds 

Let’s encourage each other and be generous with praise – saying once too many times “thank you” does not harm, and personalized feedback is precious. Let’s be flexible and creative; whilst many meeting roles will not count against Pathways assignments, some appointments such as Debate Lead, or Chief Judge are a perfect fit and support our individual progress. Let’s keep a sound meeting structure to support newcomers, and tweak it by choosing interesting themes, changing the sequence of the agenda, or introducing from time to time a different format to keep get togethers interesting.