A Sergeant at Arms and so much more

You are never just the Sergeant at Arms, you are the Sergeant Major of the Toastmasters meeting. When you are the SAA for your local club, you may not be fully aware of the power that you yield. When we start getting towards COT events and the annual Toastmasters conference to be held during the first half of next year; then the responsibility and the power of the SAA becomes more apparent. Have you seen a SAA armed with a decorative gavel, using the power of projecting the voice from Toastmasters training; bring potentially hundreds of excited Toastmasters to order? It is in moments like these when you have to admire the bravery, determination and ability of the SAA, to achieve the seemingly impossible.

What should you be doing in November as the SAA of your club? One of the first things that you should do is to determine exactly which days in the coming holiday season your club will need a venue, and make sure that you have booked it. Make sure that the banner, lectern, timing device, and other meeting materials will be available during this period. If you are going on leave then you will need to train a stand-in Sergeant at Arms, who will be available for the meetings that do take place during this period. You should also make sure that they know where the club equipment is kept, and that they have a set of keys to the locker or cupboard. Don’t forget to give the contact numbers of the people who own or run the venue. Most importantly keep the President of the club informed of everything that you do with regards to the arrangements that you make.

Besides those details you should continue the rest of the month with the standard Sergeant At Arms duties. Remember to always arrange access to the pre-booked meeting room at least 30 minutes before the meeting starts. Set out the lectern, gavel, club banner, timing device, ballot papers, trophies and ribbons if relevant. Don’t forget to have the guest book and member register available on the day. If you are using name tags, then make sure that your guests each have a name tag with their name neatly written on it.

When you call the club to order remember to mention how the ballot slips work, and how they should be filled in. Collect the ballot slips immediately after the last speech evaluation, and count them. Give the results of the ballots to the President as soon as you can, so that the transition into the awards ceremony can proceed as efficiently as possible. Make sure that somebody takes a photograph of the winner of each category shaking hands with the club president.

I have this challenge for you: Place your national flag next to the club banner during club meetings, or in the front of the lectern, or in a place in the meeting room where it can be easily seen and appreciated. Let us all be proud of Toastmasters and of our heritage.

I wish you a happy and rewarding holiday season.

Franz Devantier
SAA (South African Reserve Bank)