Table Topic Speaker

The purpose of Table Topics is to teach us to how to reply quickly and intelligently to any subject (in short, to imitate life where there are times we have to respond even if we don’t know the answer).

Structure

Each Table Topic is a mini-speech. Like any speech, your Table Topic should have a structure with:

  • An INTRODUCTION, where you state your point of view.
  • A BODY where you develop 2 or 3 points to support your point of view and,
  • A CONCLUSION, where you summarize your ideas on the subject.

In short, you’ll tell us what you’re going to tell us, then you’ll tell us and finally you’ll tell us what you told us.

Each Table Topic is 2 minutes in length with a 30 seconds grace period. Begin by addressing the Table Topics Master, Toastmasters and guests.

Responsibilities

  • Answer the question. Do NOT begin your answer by telling us that you don’t know anything about the subject or that you’re going to talk about something else. There is usually something interesting we can say about any subject no matter how little we know about it. You’ll find with just a little practice, you’ll be able to answer any question with aplomb.Example: You are asked how you think a certain baseball team can improve its win record. Instead of telling us you know nothing about baseball and why that is, try to think of certain qualities that would apply for winning in any situation. Perhaps you could mention that improving team spirit is important or the need to have good coaching or that the support of the management is crucial. Elaborate on each point.
  • Always try to speak for the full 2 minutes. If you feel you have nothing else to say, don’t panic and sit down. Simply reflect a few seconds and you may find some additional ideas.

Guidelines

If you begin your answer by repeating the question, you may find that helps focus your answer so that you don’t go in a wrong direction.

While you are encouraged to answer the question, there may be times when you find nothing comes to mind immediately. If that happens, try to say something even if it is not fully relevant to the question. Sometimes, you’ll find you get back to the question if you keep on going.

Remember that your Evaluator is learning just as you are. If you feel (s)he is completely off-base in the evaluation, don’t take it personally — no one wants to attack you. Ask other members for feedback.

References

  1. Communication and Leadership manual: Table Topics
  2. Think Fast! (Table Topics Handbook): When You’re the Speaker