The upcoming “Spin the Role” meeting in which members will enter their names and a computer program will assign them random roles, is a meeting we haven’t done in a while. It’s an exciting opportunity to do something different and unexpected.
You’d like to participate but you’re nervous. What if you’re assigned Toastmaster or worse, Speaker? Is there any way to prepare for this meeting?
Yes, there is. And, I’m glad you asked.
Before I begin I’m going to start with 2 rules:
#1 There is nothing in the Toastmasters promise that says a member needs to be perfect
#2 If you are assigned a role you’ve never done, do it to the best of your ability. No one expects you to be perfect and you may surprise yourself.
Okay, now let’s eliminate the roles that can be done without preparation: Grammarian, Ah Counter, and Vote Counter.
Wow…that doesn’t eliminate much.
Let’s start with the easier roles to fulfill if you’re assigned to that role:
Presiding Officer: This role is usually reserved for a member of the Executive Committee but all roles might be in play so you may find yourself in this role.
At the beginning, they gavel the meeting to order, remind folks to silence their smart phones, read the club mission, and ask each guest (or a few guests depending on how many there are) to introduce themselves, say how they heard about Toastmasters, and what they hope to gain from Toastmasters. Then they introduce the Pledge & Inspiration speaker.
At the end, the Toastmaster will turn it back over to you and you will ask each guest (or a few) what they thought of the meeting. Then you will close the meeting by thanking everyone for being there and drop the gavel again (I say gavel but during this pandemic people usually say, “I’m gaveling this meeting to a close” instead of physically doing anything. Then you will reopen the meeting for club business and host that section before wrapping the meeting completely.
Timer: All you need is the length of speech each speaker is presenting so you can time them appropriately. If you don’t know where the boundaries of the green, yellow, and red are, ask the speaker. You’ll also need a way to keep time. If you have a smartphone, you can use that or go to google and type in stopwatch, hit enter, and one pops up for you to use.
General Evaluator: You need to tell your speakers (aloud or over chat) to put their project evaluation PDF into chat for the evaluators. You need to tell the evaluators to ask their speaker what they’d like for them to watch for. And if you see a name that you might not be able to pronounce, ask that member how to pronounce it so you can give them a good introduction when the time comes.
Speech Evaluator: If the General Evaluator hasn’t told you already, please ask your speaker for their evaluation sheet either by email or by chat and ask them what they want you to look for (if anything).
Table Topics Master: Usually questions are aligned with the theme and the word of the week but they don’t always have to. If you are feeling adventurous, you can wait until the Toastmaster announces their theme and word of the week. From there you have until the functionaries introduce their roles before you need to run the Table Topics section. It’s enough time to quickly write 5 questions.
Alternatively, you can also come up with questions now or be completely off the cuff with your questions. There are members who can come up with things on the spot. Any way you choose to do it, it’s the impromptu speaking section so I encourage you to be as impromptu as possible also. Remember rule #1? You don’t have to be perfect.
Pledge & Inspiration: This role is usually aligned with the theme and word of the week but you won’t know those until you introduce the Toastmaster who will reveal it at that time. UNLESS you ask them what it is as soon as you find out who it is.
But a better method might be to think of something recent that makes you curious, happy, angry and tell the group about it while trying to say what you learned or what the moral of the story is. You have a short time (2 minutes) but you don’t have to use all of the time. At the end of the story you then introduce the Toastmaster of the Evening.
Manual Speaker: You can either come up with a speech when you find out you have the role OR you can go through your path now, select a speech, then brainstorm on what it could be about. And download the evaluation in case you have to email or attach it to chat for your evaluator.
Whether you outline or completely write that speech is up to you. But keep in mind rule #1 is you don’t have to be perfect. Also keep in mind that your effort to prepare isn’t wasted because you now have a speech (or idea of a speech) you can give at a future time.
Toastmaster: This is the mother of all Spin the Wheel roles. Since you control almost every aspect, you need the agenda. You can print an old agenda and white out the names and hand write them in that night OR I have attached a blank agenda to each ‘confirm your role’ email I’ve sent in the past few weeks and can attach it in chat at the meeting if requested. Print that blank agenda so you can print on it and you’re in business.
You also need a theme and word of the week NOW so your Pledge & Inspiration and Table Topics Master can get started on their roles if they choose to use it as inspiration. If you put it in chat for everyone, the members can start using it and the Grammarian can start logging its use.
You also need to say a little something about the theme and word of the week before introducing your functionaries. They will be easier to do if your theme and word of the week are something important to you right now. You can either make it up at the meeting or give it some thought now. If you don’t end up using your ideas this time, you can always use it in the future.
I hope this helps demystify the upcoming Spin the Role meeting. Please participate. These are fun, imperfect, meetings where we all support each other and take the plunge together. Contact Christoph Kubitza if you want to participate (I already have). On the night of the Spin the Role meeting, you can come back to this blog and go over the role you have to remind yourself what to do.
See you at the meeting!
Chris Hammell, DTM