Toastmasters, without question is one of the leading international communication and leadership organisations. At their meetings they have an impromptu segment called Table Topics or an impromptu speaking segment. This segment is led by the Table Topics Master. This post is to help the Table Topics Master excel at their role. Non-toastmasters can gain an insight into the skills that might help them run a similar segment. Also, check out my post on being the Masters of Ceremonies.
Table Topics Master’s Role
The role is a leadership role and you are in a way taking on the Master of Ceremonies role while you are at the lectern. Many aspects of the MC’s role can be checked out here. Briefly, you are the convivial host, the facilitator and not the star. It is your role to help your respondents to star instead. So don’t forget to initiate and lead the applause.
- The role requires you to prepare four to six questions, depending on the club.
- Preferably, choose questions that relate to the meeting’s theme.
- Keep your questions short with minimal preamble, if any at all.
- The best questions are open ended questions that give the respondents some leeway, however not so broad that it lacks direction.
- Have all the questions printed out three times, on three seperate sheets of paper. One for you, one for the Table Topics Evaluator and one for the Secretary.
- Also have the questions written on slips of paper to be left on the lectern for the respondent. This is so they have the opportunity to remind themselves what the exact questions was.
- Before the meeting, check with guests if they are happy to participate.
- Remember to bring your Competent Leadership manual with you. The Table Topics Master’s role can be evaluated for projects 4, 5 or 7 in the leadership manual.
At the Meeting
- Acknowledge the Toastmaster.
- Introduce what Table Topics is all about and explain the timing, indicating with the lights, for the benefit of the guests and new members.
- Acknowledge the Table Topics Evaluator/s.
- Read the question first and then choose a respondent. This way everyone gets to prepare an answer.
- Chose a member who does not have a meeting role, if possible.
- Maybe include one guest as a respondent, but no more. Remember guests have the privileged to pass. However members should not pass, although, you can’t force them to participate.
- As mentioned earlier, you are partly performing the role of an MC, This means short segues between speakers and evaluators makes for a smooth, interesting and well run segment.
After the Questions
- Invite the Table Topics Evaluator/s to present their evaluations.
- If there are two evaluators, invite the odd evaluator first. That is, the evaluator who is evaluating the first, third and fifth respondents. The reason for this is that it gives the even evaluator time to write his notes for the last respondent.
- When your role is finished, welcome the Toastmaster back and lead the applause.
Speak to connect, to make that difference