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easy-Speak Training

Full Catalogue of Paths & Tasks

District 71 
District 91 

Author Forgotten User  Date 20 Jun 13, 11:47  Views 2383
Description Athenians Club Table Topics Master Notes
Category Topics Master  Type Detail Training
Article scope
General Information

Table Topics Master


Topics is the "fun" section of a Toastmasters meeting where we all get to practice the art of impromptu speaking. The Topics Master is responsible for running the “Table Topics” session, the purpose of which is twofold:

  • It enables us to develop the skills of impromptu speaking

  • It provides a speaking opportunity for anybody who is not otherwise included in the meeting programme.


  • If, through extreme and unavoidable circumstances, you find that you are unable to carry out this role you will need to find a replacement. Please liaise with the Chairperson in finding a suitable replacement.


  • Prepare sufficient topics to accommodate the number of topics speakers shown on the programme.

  • Our planning is based on 1.5 minutes for the topic speaker and no more than 2 minutes per topic including your introduction, speaker arrival and departure and applause etc.

  • Any variation in format or timing should be agreed with the VPE and Chairman who will adjust the programme accordingly.

At the Meeting

Arrive at least 15 minutes before the formal start of the meeting in order to speak to members (and perhaps guests) as they arrive. Prepare a list of people who wish to participate in the topics session – always give priority to those with no other function.

    1. After your introduction by the Chairman, make a brief “scene setting” address. If the Chairman has not already done so, mention the purpose of topics but then introduce the general theme of your session - maximum duration 2 minutes.

    1. Call upon the topics speakers, as follows: A couple of experienced speakers first; Other members with no other speaking role; then willing guests (do not pressure anybody to speak) WARNING: DO NOT exceed the planned number of speakers unless time permits and the Chairman agrees. You should not start another question after the time for the table topics slot has ended.

    1. For each topics speaker: Describe the assignment (10 - 15 seconds maximum) then introduce the speaker by name; Thank the speaker on completion of their topic (Try saving the speaker’s name until after your description of the assignment – this is good for experienced speakers as it gives them a bigger challenge).

    1. On completion of the session, thank all participants and pass control of the meeting quickly back to the Chairperson

Notes & Tips

  • Table Topics is particularly for those who have no other opportunity to speak during the meeting. Certainly do NOT include the Topics Evaluator(s), but you can substitute latecomers for those on your list who already have speaking roles.

  • DO arrive early to speak to people about participating. (If possible, try to anticipate before the meeting whom you might choose or encourage to participate)

  • Table Topics should provide a good way for newer members and less confident speakers to start gaining confidence so DO encourage and help them.

  • It should also provide opportunities for more experienced speakers to stretch their abilities so DO give them more demanding topics.

  • DO have a wide selection of topics ready and adjust them according to the speaker.

  • Do NOT impose Table Topics on a reluctant speaker.

  • Subject matter is entirely the responsibility of the Topics Master but experience shows that a good overall performance is achieved in the following circumstances:

    1. The topic is one allowing the speaker to speak from his/her own experience.

    1. The topics session follows a common theme allowing the less-experienced speakers some preparation time.

  • Some Topics Masters prefer to set only “challenging” topics which may result in excellent performances from a few speakers but dismal performances from the rest - the choice is yours.

  • Before the meeting, when deciding on the topics, DO try answering them yourself to see if they work!

  • DO try to keep your explanations and instructions as precise and clear.

  • It is not necessary to announce timings as these are included in the programme.

  • Always greet each topics speaker with a handshake and enthusiastically lead the applause - do the same on completion of the speech

  • Do NOT go over the allotted time - the best way to control timing in a topics session is firstly to keep your instructions and comments as brief and as clear as possible, and secondly to control the number of speakers.

  • This is a creative role that is good for trying different variations on themes and it does give you a good opportunity to take control of part of the meeting.

  • Finally, if you have not completed your Competent Leadership Award and still need this role signed-up you should: (A) give your CL manual to another London Athenians member before the meeting starts with the required role identified and ask her/him to complete the required section; and (B) ensure you cover all of the objectives of the selected CL Project during your performance of the role.

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