A Toastmaster’s Grammarian is one who pays close attention and listens carefully to the language used by the speakers. He/she encourages good use of language and takes note of all the bad or incorrect grammar usage.
Here’s a deep dive into the role of the Grammarian:
Why is a Grammarian important?
Toastmasters is all about communication. When we communicate, in whatever language, it needs to be correct. I’ve seen a few speakers who have an amazing style of delivery when they speak…but when they use certain words or phrases incorrectly, the effectiveness of the speech goes for a toss.
As speakers, we’re so focused on delivery and communicating a story that we sometimes forget the importance of language. Now, this does not mean that we need to use fancy words.
But whatever we speak, must be spoken correctly – pronunciations, phrasing, sentence formation – all of it comes into play when delivering an effective speech.
Some of us are brought up in environments where we have been speaking English all our lives. Still, we may sometimes, unknowingly, be using language incorrectly. And that’s where the grammarian comes in – to point out when we speak incorrectly and to commend us when we do so correctly.
After taking on small roles like the Grammarian, you will be much more familiar with the stage. But if you’re looking for some help to improve your public speaking at a holistic level, I would highly recommend you to check out this course: Acumen Presents: Chris Anderson on Public Speaking on Udemy. The 5 tools of public speaking – connection, narration, explanation, persuasion and revelation – taught here are immensely helpful.
Being the founder of TED Talks, Chris Anderson provides numerous examples of the best TED speakers to give us a very practical way of overcoming stage fear and delivering a speech that people will remember. His course has helped me personally and I would definitely recommend it to anyone looking to learn public speaking.
Here’s how one can play the role of Grammarian with perfection (okay not perfection…but close enough!):
Prepare a brief explanation of the duties of the Grammarian for the benefit of the guests. Carry a pen and paper to record the grammar usages.
The Toastmasters of the Day (TMOD) will introduce you to the stage. This usually happens along with the introductions of the Timer and Ah Counter roles. When called upon, start by shaking your hand with the TMOD before taking over the stage.
Word of the day
A Grammarian is also responsible to introduce the Word of the Day. Toastmasters encourages the learning of new words to expand one’s vocabulary and speech effectiveness.
As a Grammarian, come prepared with the Word of the Day. When you introduce it, encourage the audience to use the word when they come up to speak as well. Research a little before the meeting and introduce a word that will add to the audience’s vocabulary but at the same time is not too difficult to use.
Before the meeting, ensure that the Word of the Day is written somewhere visible (usually where the role players and speakers for the day are written) along with the word’s meaning and an example sentence.
This is what your script can look like:
“Mr./Madam Toastmaster of the Day, fellow Toastmasters, and dear guests! As the Grammarian, it is my responsibility to pay close attention to all speakers, listening carefully to their language usage. I’ll take note of any misusage of the English language as well as the outstanding usage.
As the Grammarian, it is also my duty to introduce the Word of the Day and the Phrase of the Day. For today’s meeting, the Word is _____________, which means ___________. [Point at the Word of the Day] An example of using the word is _________________. Each speaker is encouraged to use the Word of the Day in their speeches.
I will present my report when called upon by the General Evaluator. Over to you Toastmaster of the Day.”
Carry a script with you as well if you are going to be playing the role for the first time.
You can even introduce your role with a short speech based on your observations. Read this article to find out more.
Listen attentively and make notes. Listen for words or phrases which are particularly interesting, unusual or effective. You will need to jot down any good use of English by speakers when they are on stage or if and when they make any incorrect usages of Grammar.
Have a dictionary with you (your phone will have one too) in case you yourself are unsure about the usage of certain words or phrases.
Being a Grammarian, you will be more attentive when writing speeches for yourselves, keeping grammar and good use of language as a priority.
At the end of the meeting, usually after the evaluations of the speeches are done, you will be introduced back on the stage by the General Evaluator to give the Grammarian report.
You will need to report all the incorrect usage of grammar made by speakers and also talk about the particularly good usages. You can also point out all the people who used the Word of the Day introduced by you at the start of the meeting.
Your script could look like:
“Thank you General Evaluator. It was a pleasure listening to your speeches today. I’ve made a note of all the excellent grammar usages such as (mention some of them). I would also like to point out some of the words and sentences that were used incorrectly (mention some of them).
Meanwhile, I am happy to see that fellow members are eager to use the World of the Day! Raj, Lee and John used the World of the Day in their speeches, great job! As you can see, this world is really helpful in conveying your message, I hope everyone can use it more often in your future speeches!
Back to you General Evaluator.”
Note: When pointing the good usages of grammar, mention the name of the speaker who used it as well. However, when reporting the incorrect grammar usage, refrain from using the speakers’ names. Clubs have different policies for this. So have a word with your club’s Vice President of Education to confirm this.
Here’s a report template you can use:
You can download this template here to take to your next Toastmasters meeting and use it to create your Grammarian report!
People usually take up the role of Grammarian when they are new to Toastmasters as it’s a short and simple role. Personally, I feel the roles of Timer, Ah Counter and Grammarian are meant more for people who are completely terrified of the stage.
Related article: How to Perform the Role of Timer | Toastmasters
Related article: How To Perform The Role Of Ah Counter | Toastmasters
These smaller roles offer an opportunity to get on stage for a short amount of time. After doing this 2 or 3 times, one may feel a LOT more comfortable delivering a speech rather than just starting out with one.
When first taking up this role, if you’re new to the stage, it’s best to deliver the role simply but properly. The steps provided above will help you do just that!