As the Table Topics Master, you are responsible for preparing a set of questions to impose on unsuspecting Toastmasters members during the Table Topics segment of your Toastmasters meeting. It can be quite enjoyable to punish your fellow Toastmasters with brain-wringing questions as has been done to you, however you do need to exercise a degree of restraint else your VPE will certainly hesitate before rescheduling you as Table Topics Master!

An effective table topics session is composed of questions which are answerable by all, yet do require a bit of thinking to develop an appropriate response. Ideally, they can be answered in a multitude of ways and are open to creativity, yet not too vague. A Table Topics Master doesn’t (and shouldn’t) necessarily stick to the traditional “ask a question, receive a reply” format. Flexibility is provided to ensure table topics sessions don’t become bland, although if an important meeting or competition is at hand; the questions should be somewhat traditional.

Examples of table topic questions could include:

  • “The Internet has provided a means by which any person can locate information on almost any topic conceivable, from high-level mathematics to the craft of knitting. How do you envisage this affecting the process of education?”
  • “Sleeping alone in your bed at 3am, you are awoken by a strange tapping at your window. Drearily pulling yourself out of bed, you carefully open the window only to see…”

Questions can be relevant to issues, politics (but be careful not to offend) and current affairs; or be more personal in nature with stories, what-happens-next and dialogues. You can theme all the questions if you like, in fact some Table Topics Masters go as far as having each respondent follow on from the previous answer. For instance, a story could be built by the respondents and guided by the Table Topics Master.

When introducing table topics, there are several things you should inform the audience of every time, both to remind forgetful members and enlighten guests who would probably like to know even if they don’t wish to participate.

In order to keep your table topics session running as smoothly and efficiently as possible, it is important you present the questions well to avoid any confusion.

The questions themselves need to be understandable, answerable and not be either too specific or too vague. You should ask yourself each question and determine how well it can be answered before deciding on using it in your table topics session.

Finally, we’ve compiled a list of all the quirky and creative table topics ideas we’ve encountered incase you’re stuck for ideas.

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