The Tricks to Table Topics

Toastmasters Table Topics TricksTable Topics is a long-standing Toastmasters tradition intended to help members develop their ability to organize their thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic.

On Sept. 20, Morningstars Toastmasters Club will put the impromptu speaking skills of its members to the test with the Table Topics contest. To help you take your next Table Topics speech to the next level, contest or not, here are a couple of tips!

1) Own the Question
Whether it is in competition or during your regularly scheduled meeting, focus not on your thoughts but the question. Think, believe, that this question is YOUR QUESTION. The one specifically meant for you. This focuses your thoughts on what the speaker is saying . . . and not the panic-filled thoughts going through your head.

2) Breathe
Doing something that your body does naturally gives you time to calm your nerves and think about what it is you want to say. Also, taking a moment to ground yourself helps to ease the tension in your body and mind.

3) Go With First Instinct
Often times, our minds sift through a stack of ideas, vetoing this one or that as not being the ideal one. Go with the gut. Take the first thing that pops into your mind and run with it. There was a reason it jumped up and said, “Pick me.”

4) Pick Your Premise
This is when you seize your idea and make your statement. Form your opinion and share it with others. “My favourite holiday is . . . ” This gives your mini speech the beginning foundation and something to build upon.

5) Add Structure
Insert a structure into your speech that will help bridge the gaps between thoughts. Whether it is pros vs cons or three main points, this will help to elaborate your premise.

My favorite is the “Six Honest Serving Men” from Kipling’s poem:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

Answering the “What, Why, When, How, Where and Who” in my story help to trigger ideas of discussion that lead to a roughed out speech.

6) Share What You Know
Put a bit of you into each mini speech. Share your favourite quote, anecdote, view or experience. Pick something that helps to illustrate the topic and drive home your point.

7) Know When to Say When
Often times in Table Topics, we start off slow and then gather steam as our minds warm to the ideas running full speed through our heads. But knowing when to pull the brakes, summarize and take a seat helps to end your speech with punch.

Now is the time to put your Table Topics speaking to the test! Table Topics will beo ne of the fall contests held at Morningstars Toastmasters meeting on Wed., Sept.20 at 7am at Harmony Hall.

To sign-up to compete or to help with the contest, please contact our VP of Education, Neil Booth.

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The Tricks to Table Topics

Toastmasters Table Topics TricksTable Topics is a long-standing Toastmasters tradition intended to help members develop their ability to organize their thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic.

1) Own the Question
Whether it is in competition or during your regularly scheduled meeting, focus not on your thoughts but the question. Think, believe, that this question is YOUR QUESTION. The one specifically meant for you. This focuses your thoughts on what the speaker is saying . . . and not the panic-filled thoughts going through your head.

2) Breathe
Doing something that your body does naturally gives you time to calm your nerves and think about what it is you want to say. Also, taking a moment to ground yourself helps to ease the tension in your body and mind.

3) Go With First Instinct
Often times, our minds sift through a stack of ideas, vetoing this one or that as not being the ideal one. Go with the gut. Take the first thing that pops into your mind and run with it. There was a reason it jumped up and said, “Pick me.”

4) Pick Your Premise
This is when you seize your idea and make your statement. Form your opinion and share it with others. “My favourite holiday is . . . ” This gives your mini speech the beginning foundation and something to build upon.

5) Add Structure
Insert a structure into your speech that will help bridge the gaps between thoughts. Whether it is pros vs cons or three main points, this will help to elaborate your premise.

My favorite is the “Six Honest Serving Men” from Kipling’s poem:

I keep six honest serving-men
(They taught me all I knew);
Their names are What and Why and When
And How and Where and Who.
I send them over land and sea,
I send them east and west;
But after they have worked for me,
I give them all a rest.

Answering the “What, Why, When, How, Where and Who” in my story help to trigger ideas of discussion that lead to a roughed out speech.

6) Share What You Know
Put a bit of you into each mini speech. Share your favourite quote, anecdote, view or experience. Pick something that helps to illustrate the topic and drive home your point.

7) Know When to Say When
Often times in Table Topics, we start off slow and then gather steam as our minds warm to the ideas running full speed through our heads. But knowing when to pull the brakes, summarize and take a seat helps to end your speech with punch.

Now is the time to put your Table Topics speaking to the test! Sign up to participate in the Sept. 21 club contest at Harmony Hall at 7am by logging onto Turbobase.

 

Table Topics: A Step Out of Your Comfort Zone

ComfortZoneBeing called upon for a table topics speech continues to daunt me, despite having delivered a few and even winning an area contest a few years ago. Training myself to accept that it is just “excitement” rather than “fear” is my intellectual goal. My emotional reservations try to convince me that perhaps this particular speaking skill isn’t really necessary for my wellbeing.

Speaking with mind and heart is important for us all, though. Table topics provides the opportunity to voice a brief synopsis related to the given topic. We have a way to organize our speech and a supportive audience. How fortunate! The skill development is useful at work and at the family dinner table. Owning the two minutes and ensuring our talk is interesting builds our confidence, too.

The theme of today was: “What a difference a day makes”. I wasn’t chosen for table topics today as I had anticipated, because I had forgotten that several weeks ago I had signed up for the Jokemaster role. The joke was on me! Having thought that I could likely be a table topics speaker, I had missed fulfilling the role I really do enjoy. Looking for a relevant joke to match the day’s theme has become quite research-intensive for me when occasions demand it. It is opening up new possibilities for me, too. Lately, I have been preparing for the Tall Tale competition….a challenge to think outside the box.

I was late for the meeting this morning, but so glad that I went. It definitely made a difference to my day, recognizing that being prepared for a speech or a joke is not that different from being prepared to be on time and ready for anything, such as, an unknown table topic. The table topics today included asking about strangers that made an impact and life changing circumstances encountered in our lives.

Table topic questions push us out of our comfort zone and do make us think on our feet. Greeting our fellow members gives us time to relax and decide upon a theme to expound on. The speech doesn’t have to be based on reality; the organization of the speech is the important skill being developed. Bravo to everyone who delivered their table topics speech this morning. It was a good meeting for all!

 

<em>Contributed by Johanna</em>

Table Topics: A Chance to Step Out of Comfort Zone

Table Topics Out of Comfort ZoneContributed by Johanna

Being called upon for a table topics speech continues to daunt me, despite having delivered a few and even winning an area contest a few years ago. Training myself to accept that it is just “excitement” rather than “fear” is my intellectual goal. My emotional reservations try to convince me that perhaps this particular speaking skill isn’t really necessary for my wellbeing.

Speaking with mind and heart is important for us all, though. Table topics provides the opportunity to voice a brief synopsis related to the given topic. We have a way to organize our speech and a supportive audience. How fortunate! The skill development is useful at work and at the family dinner table. Owning the two minutes and ensuring our talk is interesting builds our confidence, too.

The theme of today was: “What a difference a day makes”. I wasn’t chosen for table topics today as I had anticipated, because I had forgotten that several weeks ago I had signed up for the Jokemaster role. The joke was on me! Having thought that I could likely be a table topics speaker, I had missed fulfilling the role I really do enjoy. Looking for a relevant joke to match the day’s theme has become quite research-intensive for me when occasions demand it. It is opening up new possibilities for me, too. Lately, I have been preparing for the Tall Tale competition….a challenge to think outside the box.

I was late for the meeting this morning, but so glad that I went. It definitely made a difference to my day, recognizing that being prepared for a speech or a joke is not that different from being prepared to be on time and ready for anything, such as, an unknown table topic. The table topics today included asking about strangers that made an impact and life changing circumstances encountered in our lives.

Table topic questions push us out of our comfort zone and do make us think on our feet. Greeting our fellow members gives us time to relax and decide upon a theme to expound on. The speech doesn’t have to be based on reality; the organization of the speech is the important skill being developed. Bravo to everyone who delivered their table topics speech this morning. It was a good meeting for all!

 

Contributed by Johanna

Tall Tales & Table Topics Speech Contest (Oct. 10, 2015)

Sunshine Coast Tall Tales Table Topics Speech Conetst 2015Saturday!
Saturday!
Saturday!

This Saturday, Morningstar Toastmaters will be hosting a fun, high-energy afternoon of fascinating tall tales and impromptu speeches. Come watch and, naturally, cheer on fellow Toastmasters from the three clubs on the Sunshine Coast. Winning members will represent their clubs this fall at the division finals.

Guests are welcomed, encouraged. Here is a poster (.pdf) for printing so you can post it at work or forward to friends, family or interested peeps! There  also a jpg for posting it to your social media accounts (if you want)!

Date: October 10, 2015
Where: Harmony Hall (686 Harmony Lane, Gibsons)
Time: 1:30pm – 4pm
Suggested Donation: $3

For more info, contact Cathie Roy!

Thank you!

— Contributed by Weegee S.

Choices, Chances & Changes: The Morning Tide of Toastmasters

Three Cs of Life: Choices Chances and Change

This week’s Toastmasters Summer morning series had the perfect backdrop for the theme — speeches from the CC manuals.  One could hear the gentle lap of waves as three people took center stage in Sharon’s backyard to deliver their speech. The ocean waters repetitive, hypnotic beat was the perfect complimentary background noise to our speeches of choices, chances and changes.

“In the end, we only regret the chances we didn’t take.”

I (Weegee S.) gave my second speech (but the third in the CC manual) about how CHANCE played a role in my life. After a series of misfortunes, I was given the chance to learn to call for a dragonboat. While I was filling in for a short time, the promotion taught me a valuable lesson in how to handle CHANGE and using my voice effectively to communicate with my support group.

“Destiny is all about the choices we make and the chances we take.”

Sharon K. eloquently delivered her Ice Breaker speech where she talked about the three CHOICES that brought her back to Gibsons, BC time and again. Her tale, told from her own backyard, was about the houses and the property we were sitting in with a filter that gave us a view into how it looked to her as a child. We saw how it changed since then and how it has changed her. She said she initially agreed with her parent’s choice to purchase the waterfront property because it had a tree swing, something that made her happy. It was that feeling that led her to make the two other choices to return to Gibsons — to stay.

“You will never change your life until you change something you do daily.” — John C. Maxwell, public speaker and leadership expert

One of the things each of us does daily without putting much thought into it is communicate with others. Conversation is a fine art that many of us overlook, neglect or have let our skills fall to the wayside. However, it is a necessary skill to take a chance encounter and change it into a lifelong friendship. Sheila C., in a speech from the Advanced Interpersonal Communications manual, showed identified techniques to use when conversing with strangers and the different levels of conversation (small talk, fact disclosure, viewpoints and opinions and personal feelings). She offered us a way to CHANGE how we interact with fellow Toastmasters, the grocery store clerk and even people in our lives who could use a promotion in how we classify them.

The morning meeting was topped off by a round of Table Topics, random questions picked out of an envelope for those willing to be put on the spot. It is no wonder that each participate picked the one question best suited for them. Lucky choice? By chance?

The overall theme here is that each of us have signed up for change. Change in how we communicate. Change in our confidence. Change in how we present ourselves professionally and in small talk scenarios.  Each of us have made a choice and taken a chance on each other in Toastmasters to make that change. A process that is one step closer with every speech, evaluation or Table Topic discussion.

We are changing. And it only gets better from here!

Contributed by Weegee S.

NOTE: Special thank you to Sharon K. for hosting the morning meeting and offering a fantastic location for our speeches.

Next meeting will be on August 26th, hosted by Katherine. Check TurboBase and your emails for details!

Fear – the Real Monster

Written by Weegee S.

Love is what we were born with. Fear is what we learn here.
Marianne Williamson

Hollywood movies play with our emotions, making us laugh, cry and shudder. They make us jump by dressing up an actor with fangs, applying scary makeup and adding a dash of ghoulish noises at just the right moment. In the end, the people and heroes rise up and take back the world from the monsters.

For many of us, fear is the real monster and this week’s toast from Xinyu, our Inspirator, set the tone for the day as she raised her glass to “a world without monsters.”

I’m a new member to the Morningstars Toastmasters Club but already I have had my battles with the Fear Monster. This invisible beast sinks its claws into me each week moments before I stand up from my chair to participate in the meeting. My stomach knots, my hands shake and I sweat uncontrollably.

While there was once a time when I would view such experiences with trepidation (word of the day thanks to Katherine, our Grammarian,) and raise the white flag to surrender to the monster — that is no longer the case. Each Wednesday, I rise early and get dressed with the mental image that I’m suiting up for battle. I tell myself, fear is not going to win this one.

I have a feeling I am not alone.

Our own Larry answered the call to take the helm as Chair of our band of warriors this morning. Thank you!

Sarah took center stage with her Icebreaker, breaking down the walls that surround her and opening herself to the group.

As a special treat, Johanna tapped into her love of Broadway to encourage SIX of us to stand up and confront our fear of Table Topics.

I think Frank, today’s General Evaluator, explained it best when he said the fear doesn’t ever really go away. It’s a matter of using that nervous energy to fuel our speeches. It’s like starting in a scary place and tapping into the excitement that propels us through the speech, table topic or position as chair.

Who’s with me for next week?

Racing Time… or Not!

Written by Johanna R, VP of PR

Good Evening Fellow Toastmasters and new participants! ( A change from our usual Good Morning Greeting!)

It’s the evening as I sit down to write my thoughts about this morning’s meeting. My day went by quickly with a few unexpected incidents. Luckily, I wasn’t in a hurry, contrary to our theme for today’s meeting, Racing Time.

I learned that lesson first thing at the meeting. As Chair, Katherine shared the idea of grounding ourselves with a deep breath whenever we feel we’re racing time. Remembering to take that moment before our presentations is an effective habit to cultivate.

PJ gave a clear and thought-provoking presentation on Mentoring and what the mentorship/mentee relationship is all about. The relationship helps both parties learn and develop individually, together, and with the Club.

A case in point, my mentee gave me feedback on my Table Topics evaluations while we were driving back to her place on the way to my work in Sechelt today. Her comment? Not perfect…but good recovery. I get that!

Evaluation delivered the Toastmaster‘s way promotes constructive and kind evolution. I am grateful for learning how to give and receive feedback, and communicate ideas with freedom and ease.

Xinju’s second speech from the Competent Communicator was well structured and engaging this morning. The possibility of some of us teaching in China was alive and well, especially as we can just call her for more practical information.

Our Morningstars TM Club is a respectful and entertaining mix of established and new members. The various roles that we sign up for each week do indeed develop our communication and leadership skills. And it’s all done in an atmosphere of energy and laughter – laughter that was very evident this morning when Andrea as Jokemaster smoothly delivered the punchline of her joke.

Congratulations to Sheila who received her Competent Communicator and Competent Leader pins this morning, and to Cathie, who is our incoming Area Director.

Next week’s theme is Fear, the Real Monster.

I Should Have Said That!

Written by Shannon W.

This week our theme I Should Have Said That left us a wondering what or how we should – or could – have “discerned”, as our toastmaster Sheila re-framed and our first time Grammarian, Sarah L. offered. A worthy shift from judgment to compassion and accountability.

And who hasn’t had one of those moments we’d like to do over?

Judy took us even further along this line of thought. Her Inspiration was the story of Julia Ward Howe, who began the Mother’s Day celebration as a “peace day” which pointed to our right and responsibility to shape society with charity, mercy and patience.

I have to say this club doesn’t miss a chance to find the meaning. And as pointed out today, with 14 new members already this year, our messages and discernment will be percolating in every corner of our community!

That said, Katherine’s choice of story to read us this morning was exceptional. Beautifully rendered, I truly melted into the telling. William explained that the purpose of this speech from the Specialty Speeches manual was oral interpretation and connection with the audience, using both voice and body.

Well, Katherine, the visuals of this selection were a whole body and mind experience for the listeners too. I am still caught in the words “I am a child of the moon and silver”. You can come read to me any time!

More firsts….As Table Topics Master, Xinyu continued to show this club her very creative spirit as she shared her uncomfortable personal story about what she wished she had said in a certain situation, but didn’t. She then led into table topics that invited our own vulnerability: how would we have dealt to deal with the should’a/could’a of her story.

Old pro’s, PJ and Sandy nailed it. As Cathie pointed out as Table Topics Evaluator, PJ built the tension well in his own what-he-should-have-said story; and Sandy’s natural use of body language gave itself to the reflective advice she is so good at finding.

Cathie also gave us a useful “should’a. When arriving at the lectern to speak, each person“takes control” from whoever is already standing there, and then addresses the audience to keep the flow for the group. As a new speaker, I can see how this advice is an important piece for grounding myself in the startup and delivery. Done well, it is one of those invisible elements that keeps the meeting tight and focused.

To wrap up our morning, Sarah sent us out with new linguistic discernment for our ears. Her grammarian review counted 8 uses of the word of the day, and held “contentious moments” up for us to reflect on when we think “I should have said that”.

Next week’s theme is Scared Stiff.

Forward Motion

Written by Shannon, one of our newest members.

April 29 was yet another example of how “forward moving” this club is! I’ve only just joined and I feel its energy every meeting “propelling” (word of the day) our group members along with our individual goals.

Patricia as Grammarian encouraged us this week to pick words that are “alive and give us energy”, and I’d say this club lives by that ideal! Guests again this week, and next week is our open house. We are going to need a bigger room soon.

Lots of “1st timers” took on roles…Margo as Quizmaster and Ria as Timer. (…and yes, I’ve survived my 4 minute table topics ramble awaiting the red light!)   Next week is my own “1st time timer” and I will find out for myself how hard this role can be. Everyone keeps saying it requires extra focus… so forging on with courage.

William’s inspiration fit our club particularly well with this flavour of both very new and very long standing members, encouraging us to “look for someone to inspire us to positive progress” as we move forward towards our dreams and passions.

Sheila’s speech, her final one for reaching her Competent Communicator goal, took this message further as she moved us through a compelling journey of finding connection by reaching out to others with our deepest values. Johanna’s evaluation called it a “full circle journey” for us all.

Cathie’s “Supermarket Slimming by Design” was an intriguing speech title that sat us right up with a fresh start. As Kay’s evaluation referenced, it really “kicked up the game” for all of us.

Larry’s joke about Dr Young and Dr Geezer produced some hearty chuckles throughout the telling.

Patricia and Kate wrapped up our morning with the Grammarian’s and General Evaluator’s reports. They gave us all final encouragement and sent us out to the day with fresh awareness of how planting specific words into our speeches (and I’d add our lives) can push our messages and intentions. Both their evaluations pushed us further into the words of our speakers this morning and we all went out with the “forward motion” of this club “propelling” us into our day.