Northrise Toastmasters Club 1988/112

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Table Topics Master

Role Objective

Run the Table Topics session in a meeting to extend the speaking opportunities for members and give members the chance to practise impromptu speaking skills. Every member at the meeting has the opportunity to speak in this session if not otherwise rostered to speak.

Description of Role

Create Topics for the Table Topics segment of the meeting and facilitate this session.


Work up a list of Topics that are simple in nature. The axiom "less is more" applies here. If the Toastmasterr has advised you of a meeting theme then the job is made easier for you. Single sentence, single proposition, topics are best.

You can invite role plays (eg; participants at a wedding) or set a theme of your own if the meeting does not have one. Remember though that role plays need to be simple and complement your topics - Table Topics is not about party games, the primary purpose is educational.

If your topics are thematic or have a particular emphasis, then explain in your opening exactly what the theme is intended to illustrate or teach.

It's a great idea to liase with the Grammarian so that the Word of the Day reflects your topics.

Ideas for topics:
A good start.

Hints for Impromptu Speaking

The number of topics you need depends on the length of each Topic and the session time allocated - see "Timing" below. Usually the session is about 10 minutes duration - it's always a good idea to have some spare topics in case extra time becomes available.

Once at the meeting, from the Agenda work out which members are at the meeting but have no role. If you are new to the club, you can start on this before the meeting working from the Roster, or consider asking the Toastmaster for an emailed advance copy of the agenda. But be prepared to revise.

Members without roles are your prime candidates. Add the Timekeeper, and Hospitality person if they are not otherwise rostered. These are your secondary candidates. Only pick on the rostered speakers and Table Topics Evaluator/s if you are really short of candidates. If you are unsure of who is who, bring your Members Directory to the meeting and use this to compare with the Agenda to work out who is a candidate

Do not select guests, especially first time guests, unless you have explicitly gained their consent prior to the session.

Remember, one of the goals of the meeting is for every member present who isn't on the agenda in a speaking role, to have a speaking opportunity.

Consider giving a copy of your Topics to the Table Topics Evaluator/s.

Ensure that either you have arranged for a seat at the front of the room for you to use while the Table Topics are presented.


Table Topics length is as per the agenda which will drive how many Topics you can have. If you have more candidates than time suggest to the Toastmaster that additional time be made available toward the end of the meeting if at all possible.

Time can be saved if need be, by having speakers speak from their seat rather than go to the front to speak and then return back. Obviously this tends to put pressure on the speakers by reducing their thinking time. This is generally considered a less desirable option.


Armed with your list of Topics and candidates, thank the Toastmaster for your introduction and address the meeting.

Explain your role to guests clearly and briefly. Explain that first time guests will not be selected and that unless time permits for them to volunteer, they can relax.

Reiterate the timing and lights for each Topic. Explain that the minimum goal is get a green light (timing per agenda) but explain also there is no shame in baling out of a topic for lack of inspiration. You may care to mention that sticking to the subject is not compulsory if the speaker resorts to "lateral thinking".

Introduce your theme if you have one.

Announce your first candidate and their topic. If you announce in that order you make it easy for everyone else as they know they are off the hook. If you announce the topic first and then the speaker, you raise the bar a little as everyone who hasn't spoken will need to listen until they know their name isn't called.

It is helpful to briefly reiterate the topic and speaker's name as the speaker makes their way to the front of the room.

Greet your speakers, firstly by leading the applause and then shaking their hand. Lead the appreciation applause when the speaker finishes. the front of the room should never be empty during the session.

Should you have time over, consider inviting the guests to volunteer for a Topic.

Key points

  • Compile a list of simple Topics

  • Figure out a list of candidates

  • Explain your role and reassure guests

  • Use Toastmaster facilitating skills

Desirable Outcome

An entertaining session that enlivens the meeting and builds impromptu speaking skills whilst making sure all members have a speaking opportunity.

Short of ideas for topics? A good start.