Friday, August 24, 2012

The Table Topic Tragedy

by Gege Sugue

August 23's meeting had the theme of TRAGEDY; this was part of the Greek Muses series. I tried not to show it, but I was ecstatic to be assigned the role of Table Topic Master. It was a perfect excuse to wear a Grecian inspired costume.

Preparing for Table Topic mastering usually requires a google search for quotations revolving around the theme. But this time, I skipped that. I knew I wanted to focus on the drama aspect of the theme, and make the Toasties act.

Here's the script I had in mind:

Good evening. I am Melpomene.

I used to be the muse of singing. Mee-oooh-mee-oooh-meee-ooo-meee! (Vocalizing)

Until they actually heard me sing. (Insert dramatic sound effect.)

And then I became the muse of tragedy. Tragic, isn't it?

The Toastmasters organization wants to save you from tragic circumstances. You know--those times when you're thrown a question and you do not have a ready answer. Or you're thrust into difficult circumstances, for which you are not prepared. Like when your boss accosts you and asks you to explain your poor performance. And your PowerPoint slides are not there to help you. Or when your wife questions you about that lipstick stain on your shirt!

How do you handle those circumstances? What do you say? What do you do?

Well, as a speaker, you need to be persuasive. You need to use words, vocal techniques, body language, and facial expressions to evoke feelings--like joy, anger, fear-- in your audience so that they can be convinced to take your side. Table Topics sessions give you the opportunity to practice these skills.

In Table Topics, you're usually asked a question to answer or given a quotation to expound on. You have a few seconds to think about your response, which you hope would be witty and pithy, delivered with confidence and conviction. You have a few minutes to deliver your speech. When you see the timer flash the green card, that means you've met the minimum time, but you can still go on and tell us more. When you see the yellow card, that means you've reached the 1.5 minute mark. If you're doing a good job, then don't stop. We want more. When you see the red light, that means, Enough! You only have 30 seconds to wrap up your speech.

Tonight, our theme is tragedy, which Wikipedia defines as:

Key word: Drama. So tonight's Table Topic segment will be formatted as an audition for a role in our dramatic play, Tragedy! That means, each speaker will be given a scenario, and he or she will internalize the situation and deliver an appropriate speech. You do not need to follow any of the suggested structures--just speak from the heart as if you are in that given situation.

So, let's go. And to the pre-selected actors, break a leg!

Tragedy is also defined as:

So, the next speaker will deal with his or her moral weakness.

On to our next speaker.

Our next speaker should inspire fear among the audience.

Third speaker.

And last speech

Thank you to all those who auditioned. Remember, do not call us. We will call you.

Congratulations to our speakers. What you did took courage. But do not be afraid to try out new things, to challenge yourself, to stand up and speak in the midst of tragedy. And be inspired by these words from Plato.

Sources of information about tragedy:

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