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L.Srikumar Pai
B.Sc( Engg.), MIE, MIWWA, MICI
Civil Engineer & CAD Specialist
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Table Topicsmaster

Toastmaster | Public Speaking | Impromptu Speech | Ice Breaking ( first) Speech| Evaluation

 The extemporaneous educator


With Table Topics, the Topicsmaster gives members who arenít 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 roleís 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. Donít make the questions too long or complicated and make sure they donít 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 youíre 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 hasnít 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.
  • Donít ask two people the same thing unless you specify that each must give opposing viewpoints.
  • State the question briefly Ė then call on a respondent.
  • You may wish to invite visitors and guests to participate after they have seen one or two membersí 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.


Table topics- Impromptu speeches -Public speaking-

Sample Topics

  • Discuss the most memorable event in your life.
  • If you could be any animal other than human, what would you be? Defend your choice.
  • Describe your worst experience.
  • Would you rather be deaf or mute?
  • Discuss your feelings about marriage.
  • Is knowledge more important than wisdom?If you could meet a world leader, who would it be and why?
    If you could change one event in history,what would it be and why?
    If you could change one event in your life, what would it be and why?
    If you could change your first name, what would you change it to and why?
    What TV or movie character is most like you and why?
    What word best describes your personality and why?
    If you could visit one city in the world, where would it be and why?
    How would your life be different if you had been born the opposite gender?
    If you were President of the United States, what would be the first thing you would change and why?
    What animal is most like you and why?
    What would you do with one million dollars?
    Would you rather have health, wealth, or fame and why?
    Who in your family are you most like and how?
    Who is your hero and why? 

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