While most of this site is mostly helpful to beginners, here’s a more advanced topic. Chalk it up to Zoom fatigue, busy club members, personal reasons, or a combination of these factors, but let’s face it: at some point, many clubs will have trouble filling all of the roles. When your meeting is sparsely attended, some club members may elect to sign up for multiple roles. Here are some guidelines:
Some role combinations work better than others. For example, the Invocation speaker may easily multitask. The Invocation takes place early in meeting and won’t interfere with other roles. Ballot Counters, too, can take on other roles.
As a rule, if you’re trying to do two (or more) things at exactly the same time, then it probably won’t work well. For example, if you signed up to be an Ah/Um Counter and Timer, then one of those roles would probably receive short shrift. The one combination that could work is a Listener and Timer. If the Listener focuses on the early parts of the speeches, then full attention could be paid to the Timer role. This won’t work so well, however, if the Listener will be providing questions for Table Topics, since the speeches there are so short! You wouldn’t want be writing down Charlie’s favorite superhero and then realize his talk is already over two and half minutes.
Speakers can sign up to be Evaluators. Of course, they can’t evaluate themselves! Also, I recommend to speak first, and evaluate later. I’m nervous before prepared speeches. After a speech, I don’t have to worry about memorization anymore, and can give my full attention to an evaluation. After the speech I’m evaluating has finished, I like to spend some time after the speech has ended to jot down additional thoughts, and I find that hard to do if I’m the next speaker on the agenda.
Be aware of the roles you are taking, and try to give yourself some downtime. If you’re either speaking or taking notes during an entire meeting, that can be exhausting.
If you take on multiple roles, you may need a stand-in. If, for example, you are a Speaker but you’re also an Ah/Um Counter, someone else will need to take on your Ah/Um Counter duties while you are delivering your speech. This happens most often during Table Topics, when role holders often participate. For virtual meetings, your stand-in can send you the results in chat. For in-person meetings, see if you can obtain the information during a break or another convenient time.
Some members can handle multiple roles better than others. I wouldn’t recommend that brand new Toastmasters take on multiple roles. Also, this might make some people feel overwhelmed. As a VPE or Toastmaster, you can suggest members take on multiple roles, but don’t insist.
For Zoom meetings, don’t forget to rename yourself by adding your roles after your name. While other participants may see an ellipsis (…) after your name if the Zoom character count is exceeded, they will see your name and all of your roles below your picture while you are speaking. If you are a Timer and also have another role, I recommend putting Timer in your description first, as members will need to pin you, and you’ll be easier to find if the Timer role is front and center.
While the best meetings tend to have all roles filled, some roles are more optional than others. Some roles, such as Toastmaster and Evaluators, are absolutely essential. Other roles, such as Grammarian and Invocation, can go unfilled if necessary.
I prefer not to take multiple roles, but I have done so when necessary. One time I was Speaker, Evaluator, and General Evaluator, and that was exhausting! For another meeting, I did the Invocation, plus I was a Speaker. That was much better.
Question: Have you ever taken on multiple roles at a meeting? If so, which roles did you take, and did it work well?