It is vital you introduce your table topics session well, otherwise you risk confusion amongst members and guests. First, talk to the Toastmaster of the Evening to decide who will cover the introduction: often the Toastmaster of the Evening will wish to do this, in which case you also need to let them know if you’re planning anything out of the ordinary for the table topics session.

If you are introducing table topics, the first step is to explain what table topics is for (to teach Toastmasters how to speak on their feet and give speeches without advance warning.) From there, you might want to suggest to guests that their involvement is certainly welcome however you understand perfectly if they just wish to observe. Asking them to turn their nameplates around will help you recognise those who don’t wish to partake. Timing and lighting should also be addressed, demonstrating when each warning light will switch on and how long you’d like each table topics respondent to speak for.

Next, to prevent confusion it is best to describe exactly how you’re going to style your questions and how you would prefer Toastmasters answer them. Also tell the audience how they should applaud during table topics: applause after each delivery, or applause at the end. I feel an enthusiastic clap after every response is a great way of letting each respondent know they did a great job, however different situations may determine which method is best for the occasion.

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