Table Topics consists of a specified number of questions posed by the Table Topics Master without prior warning to audience participants. The session is aimed at procuring the best of thinking, listening and speaking from the participants. It represents one of the most valuable, enjoyable and interesting aids to that end, and members always anticipate a stimulating session.
The session should be featured by enthusiasm, variety, interest and the presentation of an achievable challenge to each speaker.
Prepare questions around a theme (aim to have a question for each club member present). If there is a meeting theme it is preferable but not a necessity that it be the theme of the night. Make sure the questions are brief, and there is no doubt what the question is at the end. While some of the topics may possess a humorous vein, always have topics that are topical or on which the participant could be expected to voice a considered opinion. Above all, achieve variety and realism, and remember funny topics don't automatically get funny answers.
Print 3 copies of the topic questions. Each of the topic evaluators should receive a copy of at least the questions they will be evaluating.
Decide who is to be asked what question. This is a very important task. Give questions first to the Speechcraft participants, then you may choose the Toastmasters. Guests may be asked, but it is imperative that you get their permission beforehand.
Match the difficulty of the question to the experience and ability of the person. Speechcrafters should be asked questions that can easily be answered from their own personal experience, such as work, hobbies, family etc. Try to keep your questions open ended.
In the early part of the meeting
Note any programme changes so you know who are the topic evaluators. Provide a copy of the questions to the odd and even numbered evaluators.
What to do during your assignment
At the beginning, give a brief explanation of what table topics is all about. State the timing (i.e. 1 minute) and mention who are the respective topic evaluators.
Ask the question first, so everyone is forced to listen and think. Then announce the person's name, leading the applause. Greet the person, then move away and preferably sit down in a chair to the side of the speaking area. You should not upstage the person speaking or be in a position where they feel they must look at you when answering the question. After the person finishes, thank them and again lead the applause.
At the end of the questions, thank the participants, and introduce each of the topic evaluators in turn. When the second topic evaluator hands back to you, give a final comment if you wish, and hand back to the Chairman. That is the end of your assignment. You will be evaluated by the General Evaluator .