The Most Misunderstood Toastmasters’ Role

Want a better club?  Celebrate the General Evaluator in your meeting.  We have evaluators and evaluations of our speakers. Most of our members understand – evaluations lead to public speaking growth.   Likewise, one person evaluates the quality of the meeting.  Expect insight and challenge from the GE; right or wrong, the meeting evaluator encourages us to have great meetings.

Unfortunately, some clubs don’t expect much from their General Evaluator. Some Toastmasters don’t know what the GE does in the club meeting. I have seen the GE introduce the evaluation team, offering no insight or observations of their own.  The GE is there to evaluate both speech and leadership. New members can learn a lot from the report of a proficient GE.

General Evaluator

I like to think of the General Evaluator as the quality control officer of the meeting.  With a good GE on duty, the club can take an informed look at its performance and run better meetings in the future.  Positive changes often follow.  Accordingly, the GE should be fulfilled by an experienced club member if possible.

The biggest mistake I see in General Evaluator performance is conducting a second – usually smaller scale – evaluation of the speakers.  This is usually unnecessary, and it robs the meeting of time.  However, the GE can often bring added value by commenting on the reports by the assigned evaluators.  Did the evaluators do a good job?  Did the GE agree with their evaluations?  Explain why or why not.

The General Evaluator Role

The General Evaluator role is a leadership function in the meeting.  The GE conducts the final portion of the club meeting, inviting other members to give their reports and discussing the meeting quality.   As a leader, the GE can evaluate the role of the meeting Toastmaster and the Table Topics masters – two other leadership roles in the meeting.   The GE can suggest changes to the meeting process in coming meetings.  If the GE is an officer of the club, he or she can also suggest meeting changes or special events in the officer’s meeting.  Hence, the GE contributes meaningfully to the future experience of the club – evidence of the GE work as a club leader.

Train club members to be good General Evaluators. Ensure this leadership role is prominently featured in all meetings to demonstrate the value of the GE. Offer to help new members fulfill this function as a coach on the side. Show people how to notice leadership in club meetings. Apply judgment in a positive tone.  Encourage members to take notes on the roles of the Toastmaster, the Table Topic Master, and each of the evaluators.   How well were their ideas presented?   Were materials well displayed in the meeting?  Consider the impact made by each of the participants in the meeting – but leave the speech evaluations to the assigned evaluators.


An excellent resource for reviewing the General Evaluator role is the publication “A Toastmaster Wears Many Hats.”  This document from Toastmasters International is searchable on the internet without requiring a password.  On page 8 is a concise guide titled “When you are the General Evaluator.”  Make this available to the members in your club.

The General Evaluator is an informed leader in the club – and unfortunately the GE role is often misunderstood.   Support your club’s quality.  Show new members how to evaluate “the Toastmasters way.” Celebrate the good things and happy memories that Toastmasters clubs create.   The General Evaluator can help your club build a culture of positivity.

Steve Broe is Vice President of Education for Payson Toastmasters and Paradise Valley Toastmasters.   He is a Distinguished Toastmaster and the author of LEADING THE WAY UP MT. OLYMPUS, available on Amazon.

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