If this sounds like you then you definitely keep reading because this post has one of the most comprehensive tool kits for tackling and eventually mastering Table Topics.
Thank you to the authors as these were written by some of the best in the business and collated by http://concretelyspeaking.org/tabletopicstips.html
Mastering TABLE TOPICS™
How to go on when you really want a time-out.
By Bob Lea, ACS, CL
If you have ever had the experience of someone picking you up and pitching you into a lake or pool to learn how to swim, you know the feeling of desperately grasping for something to hold on to. For new members, TABLE TOPICS™ is that event where you’re thrown in the deep waters and expected to swim or sink. Fortunately, there are some techniques that you can use to make your one to two minutes of terrifying spontaneity enjoyable.
First, don’t be thrown by the complexity of the question. It really doesn’t make that much difference if the question is “Describe your favorite meal” or “How would you body surf down the dew on a blade of grass” – both can be equally challenging. The secret is that you don’t need to answer the question directly. Use the technique that politicians use: Shift or twist the question to an area that you do know something about. For example:
“As for body surfing, the last time I was near the ocean was when I served aboard the US Navy support ship, the Minneapolis. Our mission was to re-supply the troops serving on the front lines. I’ll never forget how proud I was to be supporting the war effort and keeping our country free of terrorism. That’s why I endorse the spending plan that would ensure our forces have equipment that will protect them with the best technology possible. I don’t think I could body surf down a blade of grass, but I would gladly vote for the best equipment of our men and women in uniform.”
So did that answer the question? For a politician, yes! He fielded a difficult question, got his message out, and sounded professional doing it. Make this part of your strategy for Table Topics – you don’t need to answer the question asked...directly.
You can’t ignore the question completely. So notice above that the politician repeated the question and tied it in again at the end. This is the second tip and it serves three purposes:
It gives you a little extra time to think about where you can go with the question.
It serves as the transition to what you really are going to talk about. You can think of it as the springboard to your real answer.
Tying your answer back to the original question makes your response seem focused.
The third tip is from King Solomon, who said, “There is nothing new under the sun.” As a Toastmaster, nothing should catch you off guard, because every meeting has a theme. Spend five or 10 minutes of preparation to reflect on the theme and to recall a story or anecdote or a funny family event that somewhat fits the theme. Remember, you don’t need an exact answer to the question, just a smooth delivery. You’ll have about 90 seconds to tell the story. Skip most of the details and focus on the actions. Add a few gestures that fit your storyline. Practice your story a few times, even if just in your head, until you feel comfortable. You are not looking for perfection, just a familiar path to create and then follow when you’re standing up front.
It’s meeting day and the theme is Nature’s Oddities. You’ve done your homework and thought about the time you witnessed wild pigs running through your family’s camping site. You’ve even rehearsed a couple of times to be able to demonstrate the panic you saw on your Mom’s face as the pigs ransacked the family’s cooler full of food. You’re trying to avoid eye contact with the Topicsmaster, but she sees you and asks the question, “Explain why male pheasants have a ring around their neck.” This type of question would normally intimidate you into embarrassed silence, but you’re ready with your answer:
Why do male pheasants have a ring around their neck? That’s a tough question. But when you consider Nature’s Oddities, it’s not the only tough question. For example, I was camping with my family at Big Bend park in Texas. We roasted marshmallows around the campfire and watched the fire burn down to embers. It was so peaceful with the glowing coals and the stars shining brightly overhead. Suddenly, we heard grunting noises near the camper. You should have seen the look on my Mom’s face! She was panicked! I scrambled for the flashlight and turned it on. Wild pigs were in the cooler helping themselves to our food. My brother threw rocks at them and they scattered off into the woods. They did a job on our food, but didn’t eat the pork sausage. Did they know it was Cousin Fred from Iowa? I don’t know why wild pigs didn’t like pork and I don’t know why male pheasants have a ring around their neck. Those are just some of Nature’s Oddities.
Notice that the answer has a beginning, middle and end. It actually goes somewhere, as opposed to offering random thoughts on pheasant plumage. It’s a competitive
Table Topics effort with just a few minutes of preparation.
Once you have assimilated these techniques, here’s how to step up your game. Use everyday situations to practice telling short stories. Use your alone time to practice giving Table Topics answers. It may be a few moments while mowing the lawn, doing the laundry or driving to work. For me, it’s doing animal chores, like when I feed the sheep in the barn. On this one morning, a sitting duck sees me, stands up, quacks loudly and slowly waddles away. Here’s my opportunity to describe the moment as if it were a Table Topics question on, “How do you handle office politics?”:
I know when I came upon the scene, some of you eyed me with suspicion. I find that amusing, as I have been supporting your cause for a long time. Some of you even rose up and sounded the alarm through e-mails, phone calls and in those “private meetings.” I’m here today to reaffirm my support for your cause. You can count on me to be here day after day after day. Don’t turn your back and walk out. Sit down. I think we can work together to resolve our minor issues and we will both benefit from our mutual understanding.
Can a sitting duck help you to speak better spontaneously? Sure – if you practice telling a story! So will the tissue that you had in your pocket when you washed clothes or the person who cut in front of you on the freeway. Make use of everyday situations to practice telling a story. If you like how the story spins out the first time, practice it a few times refining the storyline. Leave out unnecessary details and put in action verbs. The action verbs allow you to add meaningful gestures. Your goal is to have the story flow through a beginning, middle and end and to last about 90 seconds.
Now you’re on your way to mastering a contest-quality Table Topics answer. With a little practice, you can answer Table Topics questions like a pro!
We’ve all experienced the frustration of returning to our seats after delivering a less-than-stellar Table Topics response, only to realize how we should or could have answered the given topic.
To protect you from such encounters in the future, here are a dozen strategies you can employ when responding to Table Topics. These are sure-fire frameworks for verbalizing your thoughts. With them, your impromptu battles will be won, and your tongue untied, as you learn how to turn the tables on tough topics.
1. Bridging. Bridging gets you from what you don’t know...to what you do know through the figurative building of a bridge – a sentence you use to connect the unknown to the known. The sooner you build your bridge, the quicker you’ll be on safe ground.
TOPIC: Your car didn’t start this morning. How would you trouble-shoot it?
Problem: You as the respondent don’t have a mechanical bone in your body.
You don’t even pump your own gas – you’re a nurse.
Solution: Find a way to “bridge” from what you don’t know (fixing cars) to
what you do know (mending humans).
RESPONSE: “Not being a mechanic, I would imagine fixing a car to be like fixing a human. First you must diagnose the problem...”
Here’s another example of bridging from the unknown to the known:
TOPIC: How would you chair a peace negotiation between a Hamas leader and the Prime Minister of Israel?
Problem: You don’t follow foreign affairs, aren’t particularly interested in politics
and haven’t followed issues in the Middle East at all.
Solution: Bridge to a familiar situation – a feuding family. Describe approaches you’d
use with Uncle Harry and Aunt Bess. Seating arrangements, small praise, patience and humor.
RESPONSE: “This reminds me of a situation in my own family, when we had a terrible argument that nearly ended family get-togethers forever. Here’s how I put a stop to the fighting...”
2. Reframing. Suppose you’re hit with a topic you just don’t like or one that’s not right for you. Don’t despair – reframe it as one you’d like to respond to. Redefine the topic as you believe it should be, or at least the way you’d like it to be. Keep the structure but alter the subject. Rephrase the question or even challenge it; explain why the question given is not the right question at all!
TOPIC: Who’s better, Cristiano Ronaldo or Fernando Torres?
Problem: Who cares? You don’t. You don’t have a clue who these people are and
don’t care about soccer.
Solution: Find a pair of performers you believe are worthy of comparing. Perhaps it’s
Serena vs. Venus Williams in tennis, or opera singers Placido Domingo vs. Luciano
Pavarotti, or maybe even that classic debate of coffee vs. tea.
3. Dialogue. Also known as thinking out loud, use of dialogue involves asking rhetorical questions of your audience as you reason together. You’re also probing for areas you know well enough to continue with, as well as areas that the audience will react to. Consider this technique a closely monitored stream of consciousness.
4. Quotes, Jokes and Sayings (use what you know). Does the topic remind you of a quote? Or a joke? Or a saying? You can latch onto that to jump-start your response. Remember, you’re buying time to think, brainstorm and draw the audience in, all at the same time.
5. The Monodrama. Take the audience into your mind as you reason, out loud, the answer to the question. Tell us how you’d accomplish something or what you’d experience as something happens to you – from your travails as a tourist in an inhospitable country to preparing for your first blind date in years. Share your thoughts on the way to the altar or relive the most embarrassing moment from your school days. Don’t just recount it; take us there, immerse us in the experience and relive it with your entire body.
TOPIC: In order to get your driver’s license, you must take the skeptical driving instructor for a drive.
RESPONSE: “It’s hard to say which one of us was more nervous. I could taste the fear in my stomach and smell the fear coming from him. Perhaps it was the various dents, scrapes and paint colors from other cars pock-marking my vehicle. The turning point came when we strapped in and I stopped to recite the Lord’s Prayer. I thought his eyes were going to pop out!”
6. The Far Side. Take your topic to extremes. By exaggerating or embellishing, you heighten the seriousness or absurdity, whichever the case may be. This might involve presenting a “What if...” question or “Just suppose...” scenario. If you’re telling a story, it will soon become a tall tale. If your topic has drama, you’ll heighten it to melodrama. Absurdity is actually less threatening to an audience.
TOPIC: Should we raise taxes?
RESPONSE: “Absolutely. Not only should we raise taxes, but just think of the benefits we’ll achieve when we raise the tax rate to 98 percent. We’ll have all the money we need for programs, defense and government. We can bail out everybody! We won’t need banks and investment counselors. Nobody will have money to shop, so there’ll be fewer TV commercials and billboards. Won’t life be wonderful?”
7. Moderator (also known as Point/Counterpoint). Rather than take one side of an issue that you may or may not be prepared to argue strenuously enough, take the middle road by representing both sides. Imagine yourself as Oprah Winfrey, the impartial moderator, airing both sides and straddling the middle position. We all know a couple of arguments for and against issues such as gun control, smoking in public or raising taxes.
This is a safe approach for a Toastmasters meeting and it provides great practice for outside encounters where being noncommittal is preferable. Use a few simple phrases to let the audience know where you’re heading:
TOPIC: Should smoking in public be banned?
RESPONSE: “On the one hand we all know...(45 seconds). But then again, consider the flip side... (45 seconds). Choose your ending: Do this. Do that. Do both. Do nothing.”
8. You Came From Outer Space. Step out of yourself to respond to a Table Topic. Be an extraterrestrial and put an alien spin on the topic. Instead of being Joe from District 32, answer as if you’re a stranger in a strange land. A corollary is pretending to be someone from another country.
TOPIC: How do you feel about special commuter lanes for carpoolers?
RESPONSE: “I’m Mork from Planet Ork, what is this thing I’m observing? People lining up and entering big moving boxes with wheels on them. They’re like two-legged ants in funny roving rectangles that move in straight lines and turn at right angles.”
9. Transcend Time. You needn’t answer as yourself in February 2010. Assume the character and sensibilities of another person in time, real or fictional.
TOPIC: What are your thoughts on public speaking?
RESPONSE: “I’m Demosthenes and I better take those rocks out of my mouth so I can enunciate a response to that very important subject...”
Consider this perspective:
TOPIC: Freeway traffic.
RESPONSE: “Captain’s Log star date 5419...investigating planet comprised of millions of multi-colored rectangular projectiles traversing established corridors. When mating occurs, infrequently, others pass by slowly, some flash lights and motion along corridor comes to a complete stop.”
10. Play Devil’s Advocate. This is an old favorite of authors, poets and even political candidates. It has built-in counterpoint. Take what you’re given and argue the opposite of what you would normally want to express.
TOPIC: Should the government spend more money on education?
RESPONSE: “No, I say we give some money to the television cartoon producers instead! Let me tell you why...”
11. Everyone Loves a Mystery. Build suspense into your response. Leave us with a question or at least some doubt. Paint a picture, but leave a few strokes unpainted. Or set us up to expect one picture before surprising us with another. Give us a twist. Shock us! Introduce speculation, a shadow of a doubt or an unknown element. You might even end on a question or in mid-sentence.
12. When All Else Fails ... Say Nothing (at Length). If you’re absolutely, 100 percent stumped, don’t give in. Speak but don’t say anything. Use a string of openings, small talk, clichés or even gibberish. Remember, content is only part of the presentation. Body language, inflection, nuance and other embellishments all contribute to a successful topic response.
Repeat the question, repeatedly:
TOPIC: “To Be or Not to Be?”
RESPONSE: “I thank you for asking me that profound question. To be or not to be. (pause)
To BE or not to BE
To be or NOT, to be. That is the question.
Or is it?
Is it or is it Not, that is to Be…determined.”
Here’s an alternate response to the same topic:
TOPIC: “To Be or Not to Be, that is the question.”
RESPONSE: “I’m glad you asked that question. For throughout time, that has been the question. I’ve read it in books, heard it on stage and wondered it myself. To Be or Not to Be? And whether or not you know the answer, or can explain it to others, it is a question you must ultimately answer for yourself. To Be or Not to Be? Some questions have a yes or no answer. Others are multiple choice. Still others are trick questions. If ever there were a $64 question, this would be it. To Be or Not to Be? They say that is the question, but I say it is more of a dilemma, a conundrum, a riddle, a mystery of life and a very good Table Topic. But rather than let it work me up, I remain nonplused. After all, to worry about whether To Be or Not to Be is really much ado about nothing!”
One contestant I know gave a Table Topics response entirely in chicken: Every utterance was a form of bawk, bawk, bawk. Unfortunately he was disqualified for fowl language! So good luck, have fun and don’t run any of the timekeeper’s red lights!
Craig Harrison, DTM, is the founder of LaughLovers Toastmasters in Oakland, California. He is a professional speaker and principal of Expressions of Excellence. For more information, visit www.ExpressionsOfExcellence.com.
Which One Would You Choose?
Putting it all together, here’s how each of the 12 strategies might work for a particular Table Topics question.
1. Bridging. The secret to passing organic chemistry is similar to the secret to passing advanced calculus. It all falls into place the third time you take it...
2. Reframing I can’t tell you how to pass, but I can speak authoritatively on how not to pass. Cut classes, skip labs, cram the night before midterms, date the professor’s daughter…
3. Dialogue. Student: Professor, I’ll do anything to pass organic chemistry this term!
4. Quotes, Jokes and Sayings. How can you tell I failed organic chemistry? I’m like comedian Steven Wright. I bought powdered water, but I could never figure out what to add to it!
5. The Monodrama. My moment of truth has arrived. It’s final exam day for Organic Chemistry. Pass, and I become a doctor, carry on a family tradition, marry my high school sweetheart and live a life of luxury and prestige. Fail, and I become a veterinary doctor, a doggie doctor, and always wonder what could have been. I studied, prayed, ate a great breakfast and even helped an old lady across the street on my way to class. I’ve got my lucky-charm eraser. My heart is pounding. It’s a matter of seconds before the test begins...
6. The Far Side. To pass O-Chem I channeled the great minds of science: Louis Pasteur, Madame Curie and Albert Einstein. I can hear them each exhorting me in a particular kind of science. If only they wouldn’t all talk at the same time. And they all have accents! Now they’re arguing with each other. This is becoming distracting…
7. Moderator. We’re watching student Craig Harrison take his final exam. Odds-makers listed him at 3-1 to pass. He’s coasted through most of his classes this year without cracking a book like his classmates. He’s headed for a crash. He thinks he’s smarter than he is. You recall earlier he blew several tiles off the ceiling with his ill-fated lab work.
8. Outer Space. Earthlings are funny...studying organic chemistry. As Arcturians, we access planetary information telepathically from vast knowledge banks. We don’t need tables, calculators or charts.
9. Time Traveler. In 2010, Organic Chemistry is hard. However, in 1010 Organic Gardening was the tough subject. Many failed it and were forced to become hunter-gatherers. Never mind their GPA! They worried about a shorter life expectancy!
10. Play Devil’s Advocate. For me O-Chem was easy. Leisure Sports was the real challenge. Ping pong and tiddlywinks required dexterity that I sorely lacked. I kept breaking equipment. I kept getting timeouts.
11. Mystery. Today we learn our final exam scores. Did I pass? Or not? Did I study enough? Or not? I feel like a defendant awaiting a jury’s verdict. The professor calls out our names: Adams, Banks, Carillo, Daggett, Engel...
12. Gibberish. Make it up!
Tackling TABLE TOPICS™
Dazzle in a minute.
In an article from the April 2006 issue of the Toastmaster magazine, veteran Toastmaster Rajiv Ramaratnam of Quincy, Massachusetts shares these tricks for taking the terror out of TABLE TOPICS™ – or any other impromptu speaking situation:
Begin by greeting the audience. Smile. This buys you time to think about the topic at hand.
Avoid apologies or comments like, “I’m not good at this,” or, “Gee, I don’t have a clue.” Don’t say anything that lowers the audience’s expectations.
Buy yourself time. Repeat the question or topic. “What do I think of the soccer World Cup?” Take a deep breath and speak slowly and clearly. Or include a comment like, “I never considered that question until now.” Be careful not to overdo this step, however.
Stay informed. It’s impossible to be knowledgeable about every topic under the sun, but a little preparation goes a long way. Stay on top of current local, national and international news. Be familiar with issues in politics and the economy, new trends, the latest movies, plays and books. To find information, use the Internet, newspapers, the bookstore or library, and listen to TV or radio talk shows.
Create a repository of topics. Build a list of topics that you are comfortable speaking about, and try to use them whenever possible. Also keep them in mind when it is your turn to be the Topics master.
Segue from the presented topic to one you can talk about. For example, “I don’t have an opinion on the World Cup in soccer, but let me tell you about my recent mountain climbing experience…” Be careful not to make this one a habit though.
Use your imagination. During Table Topics, you develop the necessary skills to think on your feet. For this, a fertile imagination is vital. You could use your imagination to create a tall tale, contemplate the future or formulate an opinion on any topic.
Connect with the audience. Be passionate – don’t come across as a lifeless data spewer. The more alive and original you are, the better your performance will be. Use eye contact and meaningful gestures. Sell your idea to the audience!
Think of it as a mini-speech. It’s more than an answer to a question. While you may not know the exact answer to the question, you probably have enough information, thoughts, feelings and opinions to develop a two-minute speech. Try to develop an opening, body and conclusion.
Practice! You have a list of topics and you have an opinion on all of them. Now, practice as if you were asked to speak on one of them. Sooner or later, one of those topics may surface at a Table Topics session near you.
Have fun! Relax! What’s the worst thing that will happen if your Table Topic doesn’t win an award? Remember, the audience is in the same boat as you!
Use these tips and you will become a more confident communicator – both in Toastmasters and in your career!
The extemporaneous educator
With TABLE TOPICS™, the Topicsmaster 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.
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 usually begins after the prepared speech presentations, but there are variations from club to club. Ask the Toastmaster or vice president education if you’re unsure of when your portion of the meeting begins.
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.
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.
If your club presents a best Table Topics speaker award:
Ask the timer at the end of the Table Topics session to report those eligible for the award. Though the times vary among clubs, 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 sergeant at arms or vote counter.
If your club has a Table Topics evaluator, ask for his or her report and then return control of the meeting to the Toastmaster.
Tune Up Your TABLE TOPICS™
Instead of aiming for a perfect response, strive for perfect learning.
By Jack M. Kantola, DTM
Please don’t call on me.” How often have you thought this plea or heard it muttered by a fellow club member? Why do we have this inordinate fear of standing up and speaking before a group of friends that is probably the most tolerant audience in the world?
I believe it is because we want each and every TABLE TOPICS™ response to be perfect. We want it to be a memorable reply that perfectly (and humorously, in most cases) addresses the topic we have been presented.
Well, I have news for you! It isn’t going to happen – at least not every time you get called on. Maybe we should change our expectations for Table Topics. Instead of going for a perfect response we should strive for perfect learning.
To understand how this change in perspective works, we must understand the purpose for Table Topics. Most experienced Toastmasters would agree that Table Topics is a process to help you:
Think on your feet. It improves your ability to access the hard drive of information contained in your brain. In our life outside Toastmasters, the most frequent use of Table Topics skills is to respond to questions we are asked, and this should help you react intelligently.
Develop a short speech in moments. This is an important perspective on Table Topics. Instead of just answering the question we are asked, we should use the question or topic as the foundation for a mini-speech.
Deliver every message with energy. Always try to connect with the audience.
Looking at Table Topics as an important exercise in improving our communication skills, and nothing more, will help us use this exercise more productively. Here are seven tools to do just that:
• No judgments – Avoid making judgments about your presentation in advance. We are often prone to censoring ourselves and that inhibits our performance. Thinking about how our response will be received as we walk to the front of the room instead of creating a mini-speech is not a productive use of our time. When called on for Table Topics, just leave the judgments at your seat and use the time to create a brief speech based on the topic you have been presented. Then go up and deliver. You don’t have to be perfect every time you deliver a topic. You just have to learn and grow.
• No “Tee Ups” – Frequently when called on to deliver an impromptu speech, we start our presentation with what is called a “Tee Up.” This is just like the golfer placing the ball on the tee for the first shot of the hole. A “Tee Up” in Table Topics could be any of the following…
“This probably won’t be very good.”
“I haven’t had time to prepare.”
“I don’t know anything about this topic.”
“I’m not good at this.”
Just as it is appropriate to place the ball on a tee at the tee box, there are occasions in speaking where it is appropriate to preface your remarks with a qualifying comment. However, I recommend that you avoid them at all costs in Table Topics. Don’t say anything that lowers the audience’s expectation. It weakens your connection with them and reduces the impact of your presentation.
Related to the “Tee Up” is trying to prepare in advance for a Table Topic by coming up with a generic response, usually an attempt at humor. This approach will definitely impede your learning and will probably not help you win a ribbon. Don’t do it! Just address the topic and learn from your response.
“The more you know about what is going on in the world, the more effective and interesting you will be.”
• Build your knowledge base – The more subjects you are familiar with, the easier it will be for you to deliver a short impromptu speech on one of them. If you are not interested in the world, the world is not going to be interested in you. Think about that. No matter if it is in cocktail conversation or in dealing with people in your job, the more you know about what is going on in the world, the more effective and interesting you will be. This doesn’t mean that you should try to be an expert on all subjects. At least have enough knowledge about a variety of topics to ask intelligent questions about them.
• Use the topic as a basis for a mini-speech. Too often we make the Table Topics session a question-and-answer period. The Topicsmaster asks the question and we answer it. Instead, use the topic as the basis for creating a mini-speech. While we may not know the exact answer to the question asked in the topic, we usually have enough information, thoughts, feelings or opinions to develop a one-and-a-half minute speech. Work on developing an opening, body and conclusion for your presentation.
• Connect with the audience. If we simply respond to the topic presented, we are very likely to look primarily at the Topicsmaster when responding. By concentrating on connecting with the audience, we are more likely to mold our response into a mini-speech. Look people in the eye. Work on selling an idea to the audience!
• Emphasize your physical presentation. Make sure your whole being is delivering your Table Topic. If we focus on just answering the question, we are more likely to stand in one place and deliver in monotone with no gestures or energy. If we focus on giving a mini-speech, we are more likely to deliver it with more energy and enthusiasm. Strive to put energy into your delivery.
• Have fun! Just relax and enjoy yourself. What is the worst thing that is going to happen if you don’t deliver your Table Topic well? You will not suffer any physical harm. It won’t cost you anything – except maybe for those ahs and the fine for not using the word of the day. The audience you are speaking to is in the same boat as you are. They are not likely to sink that boat. The worst thing that can happen is that you don’t win the ribbon for best Table Topic of the day. Big deal!
The best thing that can happen is that you climb one more rung up your ladder to effective communication. Stretch! Dare to fall on you face! This is the place to try those things you wonder if you can do. How do you think I found out I shouldn’t sing in my presentations?
The purpose of Table Topics in the club environment is to improve rapid access to the information contained in your memory and use it to create an impromptu two-minute speech. Making up a response is fine because it helps break down the barriers to developing a response. While it is permissible to wander from the truth in your Table Topics response, you should avoid doing so in communications outside the club.
Use these Table Topics tools and you will benefit by becoming a more effective communicator. This will help you become more confident in any situation and more successful in your career. You will also benefit by connecting more deeply with fellow club members and having some fun along the way.
We live our lives above the line and move through life at the speed of full participation! We are courageous and we are compassionate and most of all we are committed to making not only our own lives better, but improving the lives of those whose paths we cross