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Role: Table Topics Master

What does the Table Topics Master do?

The main purpose of the Table Topics Master role is to plan and run the table topics section of the meeting.

The main responsibilities of the Table Topics Master are:

  • To choose a theme and prepare related topics/questions.
  • To explain the purpose of table topics during the meeting.
  • To run the session itself.

Prior to meeting

Choose a theme

Although it is possible to run a successful table topics session using a set of unrelated topics or questions, it is usually better if all of the topics are related by a single theme.

Prepare your topics (questions)

Come up with a number of different topics or questions related to your chosen theme. Make your questions short but interesting – ones that speakers will enjoying tackling.

In a typical meeting there is time for 6 – 8 topics speakers, but you should prepare around 10 topics.

TIP

Consider making some of the topics harder than the others and give these topics to the more experienced speakers.

Prepare a short introduction

Your introduction should explain the purpose of Table Topics for the benefit of new guests and introduce the theme you have chosen.

When explaining the purpose, be sure to mention that:

  • Table Topics give more people an opportunity to speak during the meeting.
  • Table Topics give people an opportunity to “think and speak on their feet”.

Upon arrival at the meeting

Make a list of topics speakers

Before the start of the meeting, speak to the attendees and find out who would be willing to take part in the table topics session.

Make sure that any potential speakers are aware that they are not guaranteed an opportunity to speak – everything is time dependent.

Once you have a list of volunteers, create a running order of speakers. It is advisable to have a list of around eight speakers, although in a typical meeting there will only be time for five or six.

It is also helpful to provide this list to the Table Topics Evaluator

TIP

Give priority to members over guests (unless the member already has a role in the meeting). A goal of any Toastmasters meeting is to give every member present the opportunity to speak.

During the meeting

Introduce the Table Topics session

You will be introduced by the Toastmaster. Shake his or her hand and then give your introduction.

If the meeting has a Word of the Day – usually given by the Grammarian – remind participants of the word and encourage them to use it in their responses.

Introducing speakers

Invite speakers to speak in the order that you have prepared on your list. Keep your introductions short and make sure you announce the topic clearly. It is best to repeat the topic so that it is clear in everyone’s mind.

Here is an example introduction:

Continuing our theme of "Leadership" I would like to ask our next speaker to tell us what they would do if they were Prime Minister for a day. Telling us what they would do if they were Prime Minister for a day, please welcome… Andy O'Sullivan!

TIP

It is always best to announce the topic (and repeat it) before you reveal the name of the next speaker. Why? Because then, for a few moments, everyone participating will have to consider the topic with the possibility that they are the next speaker!

Wrapping up

Keep an eye on the time, and liaise with the Toastmaster to determine how many speakers to call before bringing the session to a close.

Thank all of the speakers and hand the meeting back to the Toastmaster with the usual handshake