What is round-robin session and who is round-robin master

Round-Robin Session has been developed by the Toastmasters in Sri Lanka. This is a warm-up session that happens just after the introduction of the role players and just before the prepared speeches. Aim of this session is to improve the Speaking Skill and Listening Skill of members and ultimately brake the emotional barrier and get everyone to speak.

Round Robin Master is the person who leads this session by presenting a topic or a rolling story and handles its flow to make sure everyone gets the chance to speak up. This is highly important as this might be the only time that everyone gets the chance to speak up.

Round robin session format / structure

In a normal session, (some variances can be found in a later sub-topic) everyone gets 20 seconds to talk on the topic or a rolling story given by round-robin master. However, as everything is time-boxed in a toastmasters meetings, try to keep this session under 10 minutes. It’s round-robin masters duty to check the attendance count and come up with the number of seconds per person. However, do not go below 15 seconds.

Round-robin master will give an introduction and explain how the chance to speak will flow from one person to another. This can be the seating order or a random order defined by round-robin master. The speaker should not stop with the bell. He has to complete the sentence and sit down. The next speaker will have to start with the word uttered by the previous speaker at the time of the bell, not with the last word uttered by him. The session will go until all the members have spoken for a given number of seconds and it will end with round-robin master. However, it’s natural to stop right at the bell and pass it to the next speaker. This actually makes the setting simpler. I have seen this happen in both ways and each method has its own pros.

Round robin master role and duties

Take the control from the Toastmaster with a shake-hand and optionally responding to the introduction of yourself done by the toastmaster. If there is a theme in the meeting try to align your session with the theme. You should liaise with the Toastmaster of the day beforehand and get the details of the meeting.

Round robin master should first introduce the session by highlighting the aim especially if there are newcomers or guests.  Then he should explain the flow of the session (how the next speaker is selected). Tell guests that they may speak but are not required to.  If they do not wish to speak they can simply say, “Pass”.

Prepare a topic that will be easy to speak on for 20 seconds by all of the people who attend (If there are many people present, the time can be shortened to 15  seconds each).

Then the round-robin master should introduce the topic. This should be short, keep it to 10-15 seconds, as you will get your 20 seconds in the end. When you finish, end it on a high note, congratulating everyone on the great round-robin session.

Prior to leaving hand over the control back to TM (ex: saying “Over to you Toastmaster”) and shake hands.

Variations – Make it interesting

If you have done the round-robin session before or when you see that it has to be same for ages, you need to change the rules and spice up the session. Below are some ideas and variations to a different round-robin session.

Topic variations

Use of interesting topics

If you are used to talk on a rolling story or a topic, topic is a place you can change. Try to be innovative in your topics. Rather than going with same boring topics like “Future plans”, “happiest moment in life” you can use topics like “What superpower you need”, “president for a day”.


This is used with a rolling story. The first speaker should start the story with either fortunately or unfortunately based on the end of the introduction by round-robin master. All speakers who start with ‘fortunately’ should end with ‘unfortunately’ and vice versa. As you can see, this removes the constraint to start with the last word as it always either fortunately or unfortunately.

Use of objects

Have an object that is unknown and ask them to guess it and why you brought it to toastmasters. Other than that you can show an object or a picture,  and ask others to guess the purpose of the object and what is been used to or what it can be used to. You can get an object and ask them to sell it.

As a example: There was a image of a golf ball holder, which we didn’t knew at that time. Round-ribbon master asked to guess it, and it was funny when people got it completely wrong. Pick a picture that is hard to guess like something really old or something not common.

Format variations

How next speaker is selected

This can be selected in many different ways. The normal way is to go by the seating order in a zig-zag manner. Other than that,

  • You can call the next member randomly. You can use the names and dress colours to call. before you get up, try to think of a pattern to select speakers so you don’t miss anyone and there are no unwanted pauses.
  • Ask them to count from one and call numbers randomly. Keep a note on the numbers you called.
  • You can give the chance to the speaker to call the next person randomly. Here you have to be careful that everyone gets the chance to speak. Make sure guests are not pointed till the end.


Always keep the aim in mind when you are doing this session, will summarize that in one sentence.

“RR session aims improvement in speaking and listening skills, RR should break the ice and warm up everyone”