Saturday, January 03, 2009

Toasmasters Meeting Guide: Table Topics Master

Being Table Topic Master is fun and challenging. You must come prepared. Set the tone that this portion is an opportunity to learn, to gain confidence, and enjoy “thinking and speaking on one’s feet.”

Here are some reminders to enable you to be a great Table Topic Master.

Before the meeting:
-Check the program to determine who are playing major roles. They will be given the least priority to speak in this segment since one objective of Table Topics is to enable everyone to speak. You may pre-select your speakers before the meeting. Non-Toastmaster guests area also low in the priority list. You don’t want them to be traumatized about public speaking.
-Prepare any materials you may need.
-Find somebody who can evaluate you using your Leadership Manual.
During the meeting:
-After being introduced, briefly introduce the purpose of Table Topics.
-If necessary, explain the timing mechanics. Every speaker is given a minimum of 1 minute and a maximum of 2:30 minutes. You may request the timer to explain the signals.
-You may also introduce the PREP, SMG, PPP and other formats, but do not take too long. You may focus on just one format.
-Set the stage for the program. Keep your remarks brief, enthusiastic, and relevant. If the club has a “Word of the Day,” encourage the speakers to use the word in their response.
-Keep the program rolling by using brief transition spiels between speeches.
-Watch your total time.

-Props, if necessary
-Your Leadership Manual

Table Topic Speech Formats

When you are called upon to speak during the Table Topics segment:
•Listen carefully to the question.
•Try to present sensible, worthwhile ideas that add to the knowledge of others.
•Keep your remarks brief and to the point.
•You can refute or elaborate on ideas and information already presented to others.
•Do not apologize. This weakens your speech. Avoid lines like: “Well, that’s all I can say.” or “Sorry, I don’t know much about the subject.” or “I hope I didn’t bore you.”

You will be able to talk comfortably on virtually any subject – even those about which you know little – if you have several mental outlines to follow. Here are some outlines you may want to remember.

•PREP - When the question asks for your opinion, use the PREP outline. State your Point or opinion, and give a Reason why. Illustrate your point with an Example. Conclude by restating your Point.

•AIDA - When you want your listeners to take action, use the AIDA outline. Draw their Attention to the issue you wish to address. Create Interest by showing how this affects them. Instill a Desire in your audience to take action. State the Action(s) you recommend and call them to join you.

•SMG - The SMG outline can answer many types of questions. Begin with a Story that illustrates the point you want to stress. State your Message or the point you want to make. Expand your point with a Gain or moral of the story.

•PPF - Still another outline is PPF. Use it when your answer can be framed on a time-line or when you have three points to compare. Begin with your first points set in the Past. Move on to the next point, this time set in the Present. Lastly forecast your point set in the Future.

•The Two-point answer is the simplest outline. Here are some variations:
•Before and After
•Problems and Solutions
•Goals and Results
•Advantages and Disadvantages

You don’t need to have an encyclopedia of outlines in your head. Just remember one or two. Use them each time you are called in to answer an impromptu question and soon you will see the improvements in your impromptu speaking skills.

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