The Table Topics Master gives members who aren’t assigned a speaking role the opportunity to speak during the meeting. The Topicsmaster challenges each member with a subject, and the speaker responds with a one- to two-minute impromptu talk.
Some people underestimate the Topicsmaster role’s importance. Not only does it provide you with an opportunity to practice planning, preparation, organization, time management and facilitation skills; your preparation and topic selection help train members to quickly organize and express their thoughts in an impromptu setting.
Table Topics Preparation
Preparation is the key to leading a successful Table Topics session: Several days before the meeting, check with the Toastmaster to find out if a theme meeting is scheduled. If so, prepare topics reflecting that theme.
Confirm who the prepared speakers, evaluators and general evaluator will be so you can call on other members at the meeting to respond first. You can call on program participants (speakers last) at the end of the topics session if time allows.
Select subjects and questions that allow speakers to offer opinions.
Don’t make the questions too long or complicated and make sure they don’t require specialized knowledge.
Phrase questions so the speakers clearly understand what you want them to talk about.
Remember, too, that your job is to give others a chance to speak, so keep your own comments short.
Table Topics Presentation
When the Toastmaster introduces you, walk to the lectern and assume control of the meeting:
Briefly state the purpose of Table Topics and mention any theme.
If your club has a word of the day, encourage speakers to use that word in their response.
Be certain everyone understands the maximum time they have for their response and how the timing device works (if the timer hasn’t already done so).
Then begin the program:
Give each speaker a different topic or question and call on speakers at random. (See the “Order of Speaker Selection” below).
Avoid going around the room in the order in which people are sitting.
Don’t ask two people the same thing unless you specify that each must give opposing viewpoints.
State the question briefly – then call on a respondent.
You may wish to invite visitors and guests to participate after they have seen one or two members’ responses. But let visitors know they are free to decline if they feel uncomfortable.
Watch your total time. You may need to adjust the number of questions so your segment ends on time. Even if your portion started late, try to end on time to avoid the total meeting running overtime.
Ask the timer at the end of the Table Topics session to report those eligible for the award. Generally a participant is disqualified for stopping 15 seconds prior to the allowed time or speaking 15 seconds beyond the allowed limit.
Ask members to vote for best Table Topics speaker and pass their votes to the Ballot Counter.
Order of Speaker Selection
Since the Renaissance Speakers is a large club, it is important to call speakers randomly to the stage using the following sequence of priority. In this way, those attendees who have the least opportunity to speak during the rest of the meeting will be provided an occasion to speak in the Table Topics part of the meeting.
1. Members with no meeting function.
3. Functionaries (other than Coaches / Toastmaster).
6. Club Coach.
Notes For the Table Topics Master
At the end of the meeting, the Club Coach will assess the overall meeting as well as the presentation of the Table Topics and will review if the Table Topics Master did:
- Ask appropriate questions that were original, well executed and well received by the audience?
- Explain the rules of Table Topics for the guests?
- Manage his/her time well, to allow as many people as possible to participate?
- Lead the applause?
- Make guests comfortable and aware of all their options if they were called upon? (guest options: take the question, just introduce self, or abstain.)
- Call for the Timer’s report at the conclusion?
- Call for a vote from the audience?
- Stay at the lectern until the respondent arrived?
- Approach the lectern quickly when respondent finished, to release him/her?
- Call on people in the proper sequence?