by Julie Salgo

New members of Toastmasters quickly buy into the club’s routines, and when they first volunteer to be the Table Topic Master, they follow the way they observed it ran without any intention to metaphorically “upset the apple cart.” While collecting my “ambassador points” by visiting several clubs, I discovered numerous ways to make the experience spicier.

Please find below the collections I have gathered so far:

  • Ask a club member to pick a number, then reveal the question/topic.
  • Say each question/topic first, keeping the audience in suspense before asking one person.
  • Pick a club member and ask him/her to respond to each question/topic you present.
  • Ask for a volunteer for each question/topic you present.
  • Relate each question/topic you present to an appropriate theme for the day/month/season.
  • Use the chat feature to send different questions/topics to ZOOM participants.
  • Call up two people at a time to do a point-counterpoint on a particular topic.
  • Start a story, then ask participants one by one to continue where the previous person left off.
  • Pick one person for your first question/topic, and after his/her response, ask him/her to give a new question/topic to someone else to respond to. Continue in this fashion.
  • Ask, “What comes to mind when … (use different quotations, aphorisms, or proverbs)?”
  • Ask, “What comes to mind when … (use titles of books, movies, plays, or songs)?”
  • Share pictures or cartoons and ask for comments or opinions.
  • Give the same thought-provoking question to all. Ask for volunteers to respond, thus encouraging everyone to think and give meaningful answers.
  • Make notes on who answered what question/topic and share your ZOOM screen to make voting easy.
  • Using the “Word of the Day” and staying within the time limit are Scripps Teasers Club requirements for becoming eligible to be a Table Topics winner.

Table Topics is a long-standing tradition in Toastmasters aimed to help members develop their ability to quickly organize their thoughts and respond to impromptu questions or topics. Table Topics Masters seem to find loads of creative ideas quite easily to challenge participants. Both the Table Topics Masters and the Toastmasters members find the exercise thrilling and fun to participate in.

Please note: The Table Topic Master should talk only for a few seconds (unless it is a “listening exercise” after the responses). No time-consuming introductions and opinions are necessary from the Topic Master. When Table Topics is a Contest item, the Contest Chair selects the same topic for all contestants, getting them in the room one by one. The topic must be general, not requiring detailed knowledge. They are never too wordy, either.

How creative are you to topple the list above? Let’s hear from you!

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