This is a list of ideas for Table Topics sessions. Feel free to use one of these for your next session!
Interview With The Wrong Skills
Pick someone and have them describe their job and what would be the most important attribute to excel in that position. Then pick someone whose going to speak about why they would be the best candidate for the position, having the wrong skills.
What if the playground rules were changed so that everyone had to agree on one game to play every recess?
What if a driver was allowed to run a red light if he or she was sure that no one was coming?
Explore other rules.
This idea is originally from http://www.whatsfordinner.net/TableTopics.html
The Table Topics Master used the events of a famous composer's life. This is how it worked
- He put the names of four cities (Vienna, Berlin, Paris London) in five different envelopes
- He handed the envelopes to the four speakers.
- Speaker ONE opened his envelope and started to prepare a talk on Vienna.
- The Table Topics Master told us of the composer's early life in Vienna.
- The Table Topics Master told the SECOND speaker to open her envelope. She did so and started preparing a talk on Berlin.
- The FIRST speaker gave his speech on Viennaz
- while the SECOND speaker was preparing.
- The Table Topics Master told us about the composer's time in Berlin, and before asking the second speaker to speak, told the THIRD speaker to start preparing. And so it went.
- At the end, we had to guess the composer's name.
Submitted by Eric l
- The Table Topics master brought unusual implements and tools from around the house.
- Every asdfasdfse is.
- After the speech, the club could guess what the implement really was. Submitted by Sue....
- The Table Topics master chose five subjects.
- Then he played 20 questions with the club until they finally deduced what the subject was.
- At that point, the designated speaker had to stand up and give a talk for 1 to 2 minutes about the subject.
The subjects were things like: Encyclopedia Brittanica; Camembert cheese; the Internal Combustion Engine; Winter; and (of course) Toastmasters International. (This does take rather longer than 15 minutes so is good for a meeting that is short on prepared speaking. Submitted by Eric)
Plan a vacation
- Prepare cards with transportation options (car, motor home, airplane, balloon, etc) and cards with your budget ($5000, $100, just won the lottery, etc). Each participant takes a transportation and budget card and describes their vacation.
- If you could stop time for an hour, what would you do with that hour? (Submitted by Bob Brentin, Midland 2399, Tuesday Talkers 5652) ..
Celebrity dry cleaners
We had one envelope with a bunch of celebrity names, and another envelope with some ordinary service occupations.
The speaker picked a name and an occupation, and then had to explain why they would recommend that person to do the job, as if they were referring him to a friend or as if they were a job reference.
- Oprah Winfrey would be an excellent beautician because she loves to talk about...
- Tom Cruise would be a great pool man because...
- Michael Jordan is a great gardener because he can...
(Submitted by Doug Hirt, President, Allmerica Articulates, #9114/62)
15 minutes of fame
- Everyone wears one of those old style cheap Zorro/Halloween/Party masks and (now that no one knows who you really are) :) becomes a famous person in history i.e. Lincoln, Washington, King etc.
- Give them topics like. Tell me President Washington, How did you motivate the troops to cross the Delaware that cold wintery night? etc.
(Submitted by Mike Gerrick - Youngstown Executive Toastmasters 408)
- What completes the pattern 2 4 6 8 ...?
- What has four sides, and it's the same sides?
- What shapes are round and which ones are round and wide?
- What shape has eight sides?
- What do you swing on?
- What slows you down, so you won't get hurt?
- What animal waddles?
- What shape is eight sides minus five?
- Is the number 18 even or odd?
- In the park there are 2 dogs, 3 birds, and one kitten. How many legs do the animals have?
- Once people become aware that you are a Toastmaster, you will find that you will get requests to speak on behalf of other organizations. Would you demonstrate such skill by giving us a fund raising solicitation for the Needy Nudist Network.
(Submitted by Bill Dobson - D40 Webmaster
One of the newer TV shows is called Faking It. In this show, contestants pretend they are in radically different careers for a week and try to fool a panel of judges. You have been selected for the show and your new career is going to be a Voodoo witch doctor. How are you going to prepare for this role?
(Submitted by Bill Dobson - D40 Webmaster)s is called faking tiOPne
- One of my all time favorites (and it can be varied each time) is to take several 30 seconds cuts of various musical pieces and tape them. When you play a cut from the tape, ask the participant to explain what thoughts the music brings to them (i.e. theme from The Godfather, Vivaldi's "Spring," Little Richard's "Good Golly Ms Mollie," Pavarotti singing an aria, or The Barney Song) Really makes no difference about the music, it all brings some thoughts to the presenter. I have Doo Whop, Opera, Country, Frank Sinatra, TV Themes, etc. Takes a little time to prepare but can be used over and over again.
(Submitted by Ronald J. Bower - DTM, Club 3478, District 37)
(Some of these tips originally appeared on http://regionvi.62toast.com/tabletopics.html) -- 09:35, 15 Sep 2005 (UTC)
Witnesses for the Prosecution
This is a pre-trial hearing into an inquiry into the circumstances surrounding the death of Mrs. Liz Perri, Managing Director of Perri, Perri, and Stench, President of Perri's Awful Fashions. I a the Honorable Mr. Aubrey Derrick presiding.
- On November 27th between the hours of 7:00 PM and 7.30 PM, Mrs. Liz Perri was murdered by person or persons unknown. Her body was found on the landing outside the church by Toastmasters arriving for the meeting at 7:15 PM
Those of you who were given envelopes are suspects and you will need to clear yourself by implicating another speaker in your defense. At your time to speak you will open your envelope revealing the method of murder.
Mrs. Perri's body had suffered various injuries as listed below:
- She had been stabbed with an intricately carved Arabian dagger
- A red silk dressing gown cord had been used to garrote (Strangle) her.
- She had been shot with a small caliber bullet used in a Baby Browning automatic pistol.
- The bolt from a crossbow protruded from between her shoulders.
- Sundry chest wounds had been made by a Japanese Samurai sword found near the body.
- A post mortem investigation revealed that she had recently ingested a lethal dose of arsenic contained in 7Kg of peanuts of the type used as snacks in Toastmasters meetings.
- Her lungs contained water and his clothing was saturated
- Her skull had been crushed by a bloodstained rock found near the doorway
From Brian Christiansen Print out the following page: http://puzzlephotos.blogspot.com/ (the pictures come out about , sometimes 2, to a page) and use the pictures as the prompts for the table topics. The speaker can either tell what the particular item is or bluff about it.
Print out a bunch of Nostradamus's quatrains, give one to whoever is chosen to speak, and have them be clever and thus tell us what the prophecy means.
Round Robin Story
One person starts a story. The second speaker has to continue the story and so on, until all the speakers are done.
This is a departure from the regular table topics routine, where everyone attending the session gets to participate. The TTM acts as conductor and may intervene when needed. A topic is started, then carried forward by the audience one by one. The aim is to try to pick up where the previous speaker left off rather than speaking on the same topic. The audience may rearrange themselves in a circle for this round, or the Table Topics master may decide how to go about it. Time limits can also be decided as such. (Usually with larger numbers the time limit is brought down). In this round, it should be left to the guests and first timers to decide for themselves whether to be part of the Round Robin session, or just observe. They may change their seats accordingly.
One variation of this session is to have an ongoing story wherein everybody chips in a bit and takes the story forward. With shorter time per speaker, it's possible to have 2 or more consecutive rounds. In more extreme versions, each speaker could be allowed just a sentence or a limited number of words. If not time or word-dependent, the TTM may decide when to pass it on, or the next speaker may make a signal like a clap and start off if the current speaker flounders.
The timer is, of course, at odds in this round - sometimes the Timer is relieved of duties and the Table Topics master doubles up as timer.
Especially useful when the topicmaster doesn't show up: everybody thinks of one question. The first person asks a question, that person answers it and asks a question of the next person and so forth until the last person asks their question to the person who started it..
Print out flags from some obscure countries. The speaker has to talk about the country for 2 minutes. The topic masters adds some real fun facts about each country.
This can be done with the names of geographical features - mountains, lakes, rivers. Get really obscure ones and had people tell which they were and discuss the location. (Submitted by Joy).
A recent Table Topic at our club was one of the best we've ever seen - our member handed out small plastic containers with cotton wool soaked in a scent - dettol, perfume, etc. and asked the participants what memories this scent evoked. One member said the dettol reminded him of boot camp!
A really worthwhile Table Topics and well worth a try.
In one meeting, our table topics master gave us a funny scenario to describe our big day. When I was chosen, I told everyone a thief had snatched our wedding chest filled with treasures. I would snap a photo of him and his car then call the police. My Speechcraft supervisor described how he went headfirst into his friends wedding cake, how embarrassing! If you are planning to wed in the future, I hope it's romantic and memorable.
In one meeting, held the week when the Olympic torch was to past through our city, our table topics master created a paper/cardboard Olympic torch. In place of the flames, paper "flames" were made containing different subjects about the Olympics. These ranged from the economic impact the Games would have on our city to why frog jumping should be an Olympic sport.
Our next meeting was a "beach party." It ranged from name tags made out of paper in the shape and artwork of watermelon, Beach Boys music being played before and after the meeting and beach paraphernalia ranging from beach towels, balls and water guns spread across the whole room.
For the Table Topics, the Table Topics Master used the beach materials in the room as well as sea shells with subject labels ranging from surfing to nude beach colonies.
Well, these are two great ideas we have used. Hope this helps someone.
James Ellisor TechOraters
One time, I used some threads from a few newsgroups - the clean ones :-) I read a posted messsage, a response post, then asked the hapless speaker to assume the role of the first person and answer the reponse.
I don't remember the exact topics - one was about censoring the Internet. The ".activism" groups offer a wealth of interesting discussions. Maybe the recent discussion here on DTM requirements would prove to be stimulating.Jane
One idea someone else suggested during a discussion from a recent officer training I attended was to have the speaker pick a fortune cookie and use the "fortune" as the topic to talk about. Afterwards the speaker can eat the cookie!
- Vincent Lee
We have a kind of gift exchange. A member picks a wrapped gift from under the 'tree' (last time it was a couch), or steals one from another member. Then the member has to explain why he (she) thinks this is the most wonderful gift in the world.
John Fleming, CTM
Colour me pink!
On small slips of paper write out some unusual or very descriptive colors (day-glo orange, pea green, flamingo pink etc), make a list of questions along the lines of:
Tell us why you plan to paint your house this color Explain why all your clothes this summer will be in this color Tell the person to your right why he/she should buy a car in this color.
Ask a Table Topics respondent to pick a slip and ask them the next question on the list. You never know what you'll get.
Hint: It helps to call on someone who is known to have a wild imagination for the first response. After that people will get the idea that anything goes on this theme!
Chris Copeland, ATM
Just three minutes
Our Area Governor last year introduced our club to "Just 3 Minutes" to fill in time before the contest winner was announced. I'm not sure of the origins of this game. Perhaps other Toastmasters know and can also share interesting and entertaining fillers for when the judges are "out".
Just three minutes sounds alot like a BBC radio program called "Just a Minute". You can find out more about it here.
Rules for Just 3 Minutes
Two teams of three players are pitted against each other. The topic which they are to talk about is chosen by the Just 3 Minutes Master.
The team which is the first to speak is chosen by lot. The teams shall nominate the first, second and third speaker. Teams continue to use this order until the time has been used up.
The winner of the contest is the team which is still speaking when the allotted three minutes has run out.
The team which is NOT speaking can challenge the speaker for various faults. When a challenge has been made by a team member, the clock will be stopped until the challenge is adjudicated by the J3M-Master. If the challenge is successful, the next speaker for the challenging team takes over the subject; otherwise, the challenged team continues.
Faults include -
- Hesitations - ums and ahs, etc
- Pauses - which are too long or too frequent
- Repetitions - of words of phrases
- Tautologies - saying of the same thing using different words - such as 'myself' or 'Next, following 'that' or 'The reason why...'
- Changing the topic - including not speaking closely enough to the topic.
If a player challenges unsuccessfully 6 times, that player cannot speak or challenge again, and the other members must continue without them.
We had a lot of fun with Just 3 minutes. At times I stopped dead when I realised I had repeated myself and was waiting for a challenge!
In Rooster Rousers, the Toastmaster picks a theme the week before, and the Table Topic Master simply tosses out questions that relate to the theme.
So, to invent an example, if the Toastmaster chose the Edmonton Transit System as a theme, all table topic questions would relate to the public transportation system in Edmonton, i.e., a typical question might be 'What would you do to improve the Sunday bus service?'
The number of times a request for table topics ideas is an indication to me that a large number of clubs do not approach table topics the same way that we at Rooster Rousers do.
John Fleming, CTM back to top back to Resources home page
Identify this Picture
Cut pictures from the newspaper or magazines. Have the table topics respondent come up and pick one and tell the club what is happening in the picture. (Of course, no captions are attached to the pictures.)
Norma Whetzel EPA and Galloping Governors Toastmasters back to top back to Resources home page
Table topics respondents are given an unusual object and asked to tell everyone what it is and how it is used. As an alternate, they might be asked to sell the object to the club.
Have an object in a bag that the respondent has to feel and describe to the club. The club then guesses what was described. Alternatively, the respondent may look at the object before descibing it.
That's MY Favorite Quote
One of my favorites is to have slips of paper with a saying or quote. The respondent has to explain what the saying or quote means to him.
Give each person a "Dear Abby" question and have them give their advice. These could made up by the Table Topics Master or real ones clipped from the advice columns.
Norma Whetzel back to top back to Resources home page
Have a book swap. Have members bring a book that they "sell" to the rest of the club by telling them why they like the book. After all members have had their chance. Each member bargains for the book that her or she liked best from the explanation. Everyone gets a chance to speak and to get a new book.
Norma Whetzel back to top back to Resources home page
Hold an auction. Have each member bring a "white elephant" from home to sell or come prepared to offer a service. Each member auctions off his or her item/service. This raises money for the club, as well as serving as a fun table topics session.
Norma Whetzel back to top back to Resources home page
Check the Catalog
Toastmasters has table topics materials in the catalog, including 2 sets of questions/materials for table topics. You might want to check it out.
Norma Whetzel back to top back to Resources home page
That's not my Birthplace!
If there are people in your club born in different areas (and/or different countries), try this: "What do people think they know about your birthplace that isn't true?"
Dan Goodman back to top back to Resources home page
"Suppose you could go back in time and talk to yourself at the age of ten. What advice would you give yourself?"
Dan Goodman back to top back to Resources home page
Read a paragraph from different letters to the editor of your local paper and have the members respond with their opinions.
We have a theme for each of our meetings, so one technique is simply to start thinking about the theme as soon as you arrive at the meeting.
We had been having trouble doing proper introductions of speakers: they were getting so boring.
So I asked the Table Topics Master to make up enough topics for the entire club and write each one on a card. I did an educational session on introductions and had each person write information about herself on a card. Then the Table Topics Master handed out her table topics, and each person passed her card with her bio information to the person on her right. Then, in turn, each person introduced the person to her left and her table topic, using the cards.
Everyone got a turn to give a table topic and to introduce another person.
(WordSupply) back to top back to Resources home page
I ran a twenty-questions table topics session on Monday. Went down really well. I chose five "answers" - A Pen, A cellular telephone, Encyclopaedia Britannica, a computer, Information Technology.
I put each answer into a separate envelope marked 1 to 5.
I asked the first speaker to open his envelope.
Then we played 20 questions.
When the meeting guessed the answer in the envelope, the speaker had to give an impromptu on the topic.
The topic was thematic, in that Information Technology is the concept that ties the four previous items together.
How to play 20 questions:
Elect a questionmaster (the TT master) The Questionmaster (QM) has in his/her mind, a word or more than one word. The QM tells the meeting how many words are in his mind. Also tells meeting whether it's animal, vegetable or mineral or abstract, and if the words contain the definite or indefnite article. The meeting may confer with each other, and ask questions of the QM. The QM only answers yes or no. The meeting has 20 questions to guess the object. Example:
The pen: mineral, two words, contains the definite article.
Encylopaedia Britannica: two words, abstract or vegetable and mineral. (the paper is vegetable, the ink, mineral).
Information Technology: Abstract, two words.
Erich Viedge back to top back to Resources home page
A couple of ideas we've tried in our club which went over quite well.
The Tabletopics master has each participant pick out a fortune cookie out of a jar, and provide an impromptu response on the fortune they selected.
What's my Definition?
The Tabletopics master provides each participant with a very obscure (but actual) word from the dictionary, and the participant comes up with a convincing definition.
Win, Lose or Draw
Another Table Topic approach I like is a variation of Win, Lose, or Draw.
Write a down a thing, idea, phrase, or whatever for each of your table topics questions. Call up one person, show them the thing and give them one minute (or less) to try to draw something that represents that thing.
Then call a second person to speak for 1 to 2 minutes on what was drawn (they don't know what the thing you wrote down was).
If you wish you can have the audience guess what the thing was. This is a fun way to add a twist on to Table Topics.
Our club meets at a nursing home that does not charge us anything for the room rental. To show our appreciation to the nursing home, we occasionally collect money from our members for a donation. For example, last Christmas season, the club held two "auctions". Members brought in an item from home - baked goods, small toys, handcrafted gifts, or whatever - and as part of table topics each member who brought things gave a pitch for their item. Then other members bid on the items and the money collected was donated to the nursing home.
This was a great way to collect money and show our appreciation - and it was gave a fun twist to a couple of meetings.
Nancie Ryan Business Oriented Toastmasters back to top back to Resources home page
We had a situation today where the Topicmaster didn't show. I suggested we try a group story.We started at one end of the room and progressed to the other end. It was a lot of fun. If you ever get stuck, give it a try.
Rick Davis ATM Cincinnati NIOSH Toastmasters back to top back to Resources home page
Zen and the Art of Table Topics
The Topics Master at our last meeting introduced some Zen-like topics, i.e. What is the difference between a stream, a creek and a river? Why is the deer on the deer-crossing sign along the highway always facing left? (And the all-time favorite) What is the significance of life? Why are we here? Our club had great fun with these.
Sillamint back to top back to Resources home page
My club has recently done a few unique table topics, and here they are.
The first one came from the Toastmaster Magazine. A member brought in a box of about 15 items. When each person was called on to do their topic, they chose an item, and gave their topic about the item.
How's Your Sales Technique?
One of our newer members came up with a really fun idea. She started by telling us she was in charge of Marketing at a new corporation, and was hiring sales people. She asked everyone called upon to demonstrate their sales techniques, and 'sell' the product to the audience. She then handed them an envelope with an item in it. A few of the items were a pocket knife, a needle threader, and a 'Great Job' pin.
Techniques for Table Topics
At another meeting, we tied the table topic in with the educational program. The educational program was about how to answer table topics by either rewording the question, not answering the question but asking your own, or taking the opposite side than you were asked. Each person who did table topics after this portion had to do one of the above. It was a great learning experience for everyone, and opened our eyes to new ways of answering table topics.
Sharon Last Word Toastmasters back to top back to Resources home page
Write words on small pieces of paper. Have each speaker pick four pieces of paper and make up a story using all 4 words. (You can also require using the "word of the day".) Variations of the word are ok (If the word is "microscope", then "microscopic" may be used in the strory).
Dave Schneider back to top back to Resources home page
- Most memorable meal
- Favorite food
- Least favorite food
- Strangest food ever eaten
- Worst meal
- Strangest place ever eaten
Make those Introductions
Spend a minute or so reviewing basic introductions. Then bring up each speaker and have them pull an object out of a bag, and have them introduce what they have extracted. (Vegetables work well...."It's MR. CARROT!!!! Please introduce Mr. Carrot as our next speaker." Not only do people get practice with introductions, but they get to take home a part of a salad.)
One person speaks and another stands next to the speaker and performs all gestures. Working on street repair. The joy of dancing. Wrestling a bear at the State Fair. Demonstrating Tupperware. Rock Climbing.
Would you live here?
Discuss a weird place to live and defend the place as a nice place to live.
- Next to a nuclear power plant.
- In a swamp.
- Bottom of the Grand Canyon.
- Top of the Matterhorn.
Use questions only while telling a story
- Describe your first job interview.
- Your best vacation.
- The three little pigs.
- Goldilocks and the three bears.
- Washington crossing the Delaware.
Start each sentence with a word that begins with a specific letter (first "a", then "b", etc.), then next person says sentence with next letter. Apples are my favorite fruit. Bananas are better. Can you believe what we are talking about? Don't you think it would be better if we spoke about Politics?
Truth or Dare
Everyone writes down a secret about themselves that no one knows about. Each speaker takes one of the notes, reads it, and states who they think wrote the note and why.
Archaeology for beginners
Put everyday stuff into a bag and let each speaker select an item to discuss. However, the year is 2525 and the speaker is an archeologist. They will explain their opinion as to what the item was back in the 20th. century and how it was used.
Miss this movie
The speaker picks a really bad movie they have seen. They then must persuade the audience to see it.
I had lunch with Queen Elizabeth
Each speaker tells about a time (real or imagined, but preferably real) when they ran into a celebrity.
Dr Phil and Oprah
Check out the TV listings to see what the current topics are on OPRAH or PHIL. Each speaker discusses the topic.
Interesting pictures are selected from magazines. Each speaker picks one at random and discusses what is going on in the picture. eg. A man is sitting at a desk reading, while another person is looking out the window.
Variation #1: Have the volunteer explain why this person would be a good candidate for a toastmasters member and how they would go about convincing them to join.
Variation #2: Choose pictures of plates of food and have member explain why it's their favorite meal of all time.
Each speaker picks a cookie, reads the message, and discusses how it applies to them.
Weekly world news
Take interesting articles from the weekly tabloids (Weekly World News is especially good). Each speaker is required to discuss and/or defend and/or explain the amazing things reported (Man finds green glob in closet...and it eats his dog)!
You won't believe this, but
Each speaker is required to tell an amazing story about themselves. The members then vote for each speaker as having told the truth or not. The speaker who fooled the most people either way, wins topics.
What have you done this time?
Bring a camcorder to the meeting and pick members at random. Have each stand up, and, under the glare of the camera lights, grill the member about the "terrible" thing he or she did. Interview each member for 1 minute, then play back the tape.
The world's best job
Have each member write down on a piece of paper, the job that they would consider the best job in the world for them. Then pass the papers to the person on the left. Call on members to stand and explain why the job on the paper in front of them is the best job in the world. Or the worst
The perfect education
List a number of educational classes on a board. Each speaker picks one of the classes and explains why that class is the most important class to take to round out an education. Once used, the class is "removed" from the board.
Make a list of "accomplishments" (best underwater basketweaver, best nuclear power plant designer, best TV remote control switcher, etc.) and print them on pieces of paper. A speaker selects the award and must "award" it to another member. That member must get up and "accept" the award.
Collect some products off the grocery shelf or hardware store. Each TT speaker selects one of the items out of a bag and has to do a TV commercial on that product.
We're all toastmasters. Select an appropriate setting for each speaker, then let them make an appropriate toast for the occasion. eg. You're at your high school reunion. You are asked to give a toast to one of your favorite teachers who is now deceased. You are at a political meeting in town. A visiting US Senator from your party is at the meeting and you are asked to make a toast to the Senator. Your next door neighbors are celebrating their 25th Wedding Anniversary. You are asked to make a toast to them.
The Impromptu Murders
Each person would be given one line and would have to weave a story from it. Here are a dozen different story lines to use:
- It was a dark and stormy night as lightning flashed through the window pane.....
- When the guests heard the noise they stumbled down the hallway only to discover....
- The police arrived and asked everyone to....
- Fearing for my own safety I told the Police, "I couldn't have done it because I....."
- Seeing that now was the right time, the butler stepped forward and declared.....
- Old Mrs. Marple didn't think anyone knew about her relationship with the deceased. * I then stood up and told the group.....
- Gasping for breath and holding her throat, the maid stumbled into the drawing room....
- It was then that the front door burst open and who should step in but....
- "No!", I cried. "It was I who did it, for you see the dead man was my........"
- Surprising everyone, the dead man picked himself up off of the floor, looked around at the gathering and said.....
- Just when all had felt the mystery solved, the light went out.....
- The policeman then stepped forward and announced to the guests, with a big smile on his face....
The meeting closest to Valentines Day: The Topics Master brought red carnations. Pairs of people were asked to participate instead of individuals. The first man was asked to play the role of Ceasar and give the carnation to 'Cleopatra' along with a suitable declaration of love. 'Cleopatra' then had to reciprocate and present a carnation to him. Other pairs were 3rd graders who constantly tormented each other, but secretly liked each other. A couple just celebrating their 50th valentines day together, a father to his very young daughter, etc. Dave Schneider
Another meeting, the Topics Master asked everyone to sit on the floor in the center of the room, or on chairs brought to the center. All the lights were turned off and a flashlight was used to simulate a campfire. The Topics Master gave the titles and particpants told campfire stories. Dave Schneider
Presumably to get practice at closings, participants were asked to give the closing of a speech, briefly described by the Topics Master. Dave Schneider
We had an interesting time with a table topic based on those little round disks called "POGS". I picked out several of them with distinctive pictures, and said that each participant would be from a planet or country with a distinctive coinage. They were to tell us the story about why that particular image was inscribed on the coin. ( ie. famous character in history, notable landmark, etc.) Dave Schneider
Deal with it
We usually tie our table topics to the evening's theme. Last week our clubs theme was "Dealing with it." I pasted situations on the back of playing cards which ended with the phrase "Deal with it." For example: You enter a room and reach in to turn on the light switch. Suddenly your arm is grabbed by a six fingered furry hand which you realize isn't human. Deal with it. Dave Schneider
The X Files
This week our theme was the "X Files" We had to discuss a scenario which was "bizzare"
For example: God has an infomercial on channel one.
Instant Art Critic
Once I gave each person a sheet of paper on which children had drawn weird pictures. Toastmasters were One Minute Art Critics and had to discuss the significance of the work.
Bag of Pennies
One of our good Table Topics was bringing in a bag of pennies and you had to talk about something that happened in the year that was stamped on the penny, or something you were doing during that year. Lots of fun.
Make a display board with pockets representing the money categories for a jeopardy game. Label each pocket with the money value ie, $100, $200, $300. In each pocket place a table topics question. At the top of the category place a general theme for the column. All participants are "winners". Award them each with a mini $100,000 candy bar.
Noah is trying to pick the animal that will take the last two seats on the ark. Pick an animal from a bag and without identifying the animal to the group, try to convince the Table Topics Master (ie. "NOAH") that you - and your spouse - deserve the last two spots. Some suggested animals:
The table topics master can act as a news anchor calling on toastmasters who act as on-the-spot reporters or as the man-on-the-street reacting to a news item. This is fun if you look for strange headlines or morph some normal ones. For instance, Toastmaster John Doe, you are on the spot at Interstate XYZ where a tractor trailor truck full of quarters has just overturned and is spilling out onto the highway. Give us your eye-witness report.
A variation would be to pick historical or catastrophic events from the past or even potential future events and get their reactions and eye-witness reports to these.
Hopes & Dreams
Volunteers talk about a specific resolution they had made last year. What resolutions did you make last year and did you follow through on them ? What will resolutions will you make this year ?
What Were You Doing When...
Ask volunteers to talk about what their lives and what they were doing when a significant historical event happened. Some examples:
- What were you doing when John F. Kennedy was shot ?
- What were you doing when the first man walked on the moon ?
- What were you doing during 9/11 ?
- What were you doing during when the worst natural disaster you've experienced hit?
Buy My Product
Volunteers to come up to the podium and randomly pick a product out of a paper back or look at a picture of a product that has been cut out and mounted on a card. Ask them to introduce it as a new product that they are bringing to the market place. Explain why the audience will want to purchase it.
One Table Topics Master brought in a bag of chocolate bars that had been re-labeled with new names. Club members had a great time creating marketing spiels for their "new product" and got a treat to take home with them afterwards. There was no lack of volunteers!
Ask thought-provoking questions.
Think back to your childhood...
- What did you want to be when you grew up?
- Who was the person that had the most impact on your life?
- Who was the most important person in our life?
Or consider history...
- Who was the most important person in history?
- What figure in history has made the most significant contribution to mankind?
I want that Parachute !
You are in a plane that is struggling with engine trouble and it's obvious that it's about to go down. Unfortunately, there is only one parachute on board. Your task is to convince the other passengers to give you the parachute. Good luck—there may be some very famous or important people on board.
188.8.131.52 11:56, 17 February 2009 (UTC)Jasper
That's my job
What are essential qualities you need for a certain job position? Explain what they are and tell us why it's the perfect job for you.
Some example jobs:
- Spokesperson of an important political party
- Taxi Driver
- Being in Charge of a Tender Board in a government department
- Commercial Pilot
- Trolley Car Operator
- Cashier at Walmart
(Variation: If you really want some fun, think of really weird, off-the-wall jobs titles.)
Ruler of the World
Humans are not the only species on our planet. Why shouldn't another species become dominant and rule the world? Explain why the following animals should be the next world rulers.
Last night you met a famous person at a charity ball. Describe your first meeting (imaginary) with someone famous:
- a sports figure
- Bill Gates
- Charlie Chaplin
- Isaac Newton
- Albert Einstein
- Michael Jackson
- Mike Tyson
- Ronald Reagan
Ask volunteers to come up and give plausible explanations and definitions for the meaning of odd-sounding words. Some examples: gound, twee, ort, absquatulate, Floccinaucinihilipilification, pandiculation, jillick, bogglybigglyboo, bumpf, eesome.
Philosophy of Life
Give volunteers the name of a cartoon character and then ask them to tell you about their philosophy of life.
As volunteers to explain why they should win the Nobel prize for .... patience, sense of humor, creativity, innovative thinking, tap dancing, window washing, parenthood, courage, genius IQ, serenity, magnetic personality, leadership skills, calm in a crisis, witty retorts / pickup lines, speechwriting, etc.
That's News to Me
Pick your favorite historical character and pretend that you are him/her come back to life and talk about how you feel about modern times or some recent news headline.
There was a huge flash of light and a crashing sound in the backyard. When you went to investigate, you find a very hot piece of multi-colored stone in a small crater ... after it cools down, you put it in your pocket and as you carry it around with you, you discover that it gives you magical powers. Describe how you came to realize that you suddenly could ... see through solid objects, walk through walls, become invisible, leap fantastic distances, make things disappear, run faster than a locomotive, hear what animals are thinking, make things levitate, wish yourself to specific locations, freeze everyone with a snap of your fingers, see into the future, make anyone tell the truth.
My Best Seller
Have volunteers draw out different Book titles and talk about the book they have just written and which is coming out in print tomorrow. Some examples of some book genres and possible titles:
- Romance - Love in the afternoon and evening
- Self-Help - Ten easy ways to get rich
- Home and Garden: Quick recipes for people who can't cook
- Fix-it: How to do darn near anything
- The best places to shop
- Horror: The thing that crawled out of my bathtub
- Mystery: Did the dryer really eat my socks ?
- Children's Classic: The little red BMW
- Fiction: The richest man in babylon
- Animal Stories: 101 Gerbils
- Encyclopedia: Grafitti
- Poetry: By Humphrey Bogart
Your great uncle that you didn't even know existed died and is leaving his entire multi-million-dollar estate to the family member heir that convinces the executor of his estate that they would be the most appropriate guardian for his beloved ... pet gorilla, giraffe, porcupine, 20 ft pink flamingo statue, green 1977 volkswagen with pink polka dots, alien wax museum, collection of top hats, church steeples, collection of liberty bell replicas, vacation home in Siberia, his stuffed bat collection.
A Day In the Life...
Imagine that you are anyone you like!
- Imagine that you are the family pet. Describe yourself and/or your family on a typical day. Try one of these: Parakeet, cat, dog, chicken, lizard, snake, pot-bellied pig, bullfrog, turtle, horse, goat, ferret, mice, hamster.
- Occupations e.g. Ice-cream man, baby, your boss, your enemy
You work for a crisis line. What advice would you give to the person who called with the following question? (Think of a variety of questions that caller's might ask - choose a mix of serious and funny questions for variety.)
Speak your Mind
You are about to take a trip and they overbooked the flight and have to bump you on a another one. So as a courtesy to make up for it, the airline upgrades your ticket to first class. You get on the airplane and find yourself seated, cocktail in hand, next to a famous person with the perfect opportunity to speak your mind. What would you say ?
- Bill Gates
- Bill Clinton
- Mike Tyson
- Alec Baldwin
- Saddam Hussein
- Alan Greenspan
- Teddy Kennedy
- Sandra Day O'Connor
- Tony Blair
- Prince Charles
- Martha Stewart
- Bart Simpson
- George W. Bush.
- Fidel Castro
- Ariel Sharon
- Osama bin Laden
Have speaker tell an amazing story about themselves. Members then vote on whether or not each speaker has told the truth or not. The speaker who fooled the most people either way, wins.
Fun and Questions
Give volunteers some unusual tasks. Some examples:
- You just got stopped for speeding. See if you can talk your way out of a ticket..
- Explain why frog jumping should be an Olympic sport.
Announce that one of the members has had jewelry stolen from the second floor bedroom of their mansion. Call the first participant and give them a role to play. Ask each to defend themselves and then draw a role for the next person and call someone else up at random.
- The gardener
- The butler
- The TV Repairman
- The housekeeper
- The plumber
- The pizza delivery boy/girl
- The night watchman
- The visiting professor
- The mother-in-law
Dual Role Play
Call two volunteers up to the lectern at once and assign them each a different role. Then give them an imaginary situation and have them pretend to have a telephone conversation about it. For example, one person can be a school principal and the other a parent calling about a child's bad grade.
Have the each participant call up a replacement for themselves for the next role play.
World Record Holders
Provide a list of funny "world records" and have each volunteer draw one and explain how they came to be the world record holder in this area.
Murder She Wrote
Provide a very general description of a murder and have participants explain how they committed it without getting caught.
Explain that Toastmasters can have a major impact on a person's life. Ask each participant an interview question about this participation in Toastmasters. For example:
- Toastmaster A, why have you remained a member for 32 years ?
- Toastmaster B, what do you like best about Toastmasters ?
- Toastmaster C, tells us about your worst speaking experience ?
- Toastmaster D, tell us how Toastmaster's has benefitted you in your job ?
- Toastmaster E, tell us why you visited your first Toastmaster's meeting and why you joined it afterwards?
...and so on
Provide a list of embarrassing situations and have volunteers draw one and explain how they would handle it.
A Little Word Fun
List four random, unrelated and very different WORDS on each slip of paper and then ask participants to draw one slip of paper and tell a story using the four words they chose.
I used the following four unsual phrases and asked the Talkers to incorporate tem into their speech.
- It was on the third day that the heat became so intense that the camels were suffering from heat exhaustion.
- If I knew beforehand it was going to rain so heavily I would never have bothered.
- It didn't matter how hard I tried, I couldn't get all the monkeys off the bus.
- I just could not understand why there was a Chinese man on the roof.
Would you work with a Saxophonist or a Violinist?
Your company has expanded and your boss wants to hire an additional person to do exactly your job, alongside you. Three resumes show exactly the same level of qualification; all are amateur musicians. They differ only in their chosen musical instrument:
- one plays Violin
- one plays Saxophone
- one sings
Which one is best suited to do your job?
Have folks play a game of silence charade in the Table Topics round in the spirit of working on gestures and facial communication. Put together a list of 20-25 words. Give each person 5 words. The time to get through a stack of 5 words can be from 30secs to 2mins. Have the rest of the club try to guess the word. Use words such as: baseball, dribble, swim, confusion, happy, surprise, phone, etc.
Toastmasters Funniest Home Videos
Have Toastmasters come up and tell about their funniest or most embarrassing moment as if they were describing an America's Funniest Home Video clip.
Book of quotes
Each participants selects a number between 1 and 339 and that is a page in the book "Don't Forget to Sing in the Lifeboats" by Kathry and Ross Petras, a collection of intersting quotes. Works with many other books of lists as well.
Save unused table topics questions for emergencies
After the meeting, if there are questions the topic master prepared but didn't use, the secretary or Sergeant at Arms of the club can collect them and save them for emergency situations when the assigned topicmaster is unavailable. For this to work the questions must be complete enough to be used as is.
Two speakers are called out simultaneously and they have to decide among themselves, to take opposing stands on one topic given. It's advised to first give around a minute to both sides to present their points, followed by 30 second rebuttals. (Lesser time per rebuttal if more rebuttals wanted) Who goes first can be decided the TT Master or from a flip of coin. The TTM should take care to be sensitive on choice of topic so that there's equal speaking room on both sides of the argument. And the debate shouldn't descend to chaos or get personal or too polarized or rhetorical. But hey, this is just a table topics round!
In voting for the best speakers, it may be decided to vote for the individual speakers, or for the pairs that spoke.
One idea to prevent conflict or hard feelings between the opposing speakers is to make them switch sides in their closing statements and point out where they agreed with the opposite person ;)
In this round, one speaker debates with himself/herself. A topic is given, and the speaker has to adopt one side of the argument. At a certain time or at the whim of the TTM, the speaker must immediately switch sides. A bell or other such sound device may be used. This can be very entertaining if the speaker is able to effectively change sides mid-sentence. This round isn't advised for novices, however!
Typically, a minute of unhindered speaking could be allowed at start to allow the speaker to get into the topic, and the time after that may be thrown open to turncoats as per the TTM. Alternately, time could be given at the end for the speaker to sum up and take a final stance without being pinged by the TTM.
Instead of full-fledged topics, the TTM can keep several chits having a simple word each. The table topics speaker has to choose 2, or more (speaker's choice, or TTM decides) chits, and give a table topic speech that involves these words. We can have Challenge slots wherein an advanced speaker may be invited to take up 4 or more chits and string a speech from the disparate words.
This round involves very little brainwork on the part of the TTM, so highly rated as a face-saver for a hastily assigned TTM role!
Candidate For office
The TTM tells the group; "You are campaigning for a new office. Tell us your position on the relevant key issues, and why we should vote for you. Also provide us with your campaign slogan." Some sample offices are:
- Mayor of Whoville
- Foreign Minister to the Animal Kingdom
- Planning Committee Member for Procrastinators International
- Student Body Treasurer at Beverly Hills High School
- Bored Supervisor for the Inanely Mundane Club
- Chief Bottle Washer
- President of the Society of Disinterested Youth
- Vice-President of the committee to Eliminate Presidential Vice
- Chairman of the Anarchists International sub-Committee for Establishing Organizational Rules and By-laws.
Murder Mystery with a Twist
The TTM tells the group that a Mr. John Doe attended last week's meeting, but because his suit was the same color as the wall, nobody noticed him for 2 hours. Mr. John Doe was murdered immediately after the meeting and every Toastmaster except for the TTM is a suspect. All of the Crown's (or State's) evidence is based on the what the Toastmaster did at the previous meeting and they have to stand up and explain the evidence, confess or throw someone else under the bus. At the end of Table Topics, members vote for the best speaker and who they think the murderer is. For example:
- The humorist's joke was so funny, the coroner says that he may have died laughing.
- The grammarian's word of day was so difficult, Mr. Doe may have died of a twisted tongue.
- Somebody took a photograph or used a cell phone during the meeting and Mr. Doe's pacemaker malfunctioned.
- The timer turned the lights on and off so many times, it triggered an epileptic fit.
- Mr. Doe may have died of the shame of not being noticed by anyone and it was the duty of the VP of Membership to greet and welcome all visitors.
- Mr. Doe may have died because a speech topic was so upsetting.
- The TTM can make up additional stories about members that were absent the previous week.
Charles Kennedy - Rose City Toastmasters
The Toasty Awards
This Table Topics can become a popular annual event around Oscar time. I bought a cheap microphone at the dollar store and put on a polyester leisure suit from the Goodwill store and transformed myself into Chuck Winkandnod, interviewer of the stars. I pretended I was on the red carpet at the Toasty awards honoring the talented Toastmasters that were starring in the latest Hollywood blockbusters. Before the meeting, I asked a fellow member to take a picture with a flash every time I said the phrase "The paparazzi are going nuts". As each member is called to the front, I make up a tabloid story about them being romantically linked to an actor or actress in the news e.g. TMZ recently showed a video of you canoodling with Sandra Bullock at the back of a restaurant. Before the member can talk about the rumour, I ask them to talk about their latest project. What kind of movie is it, who are the co-stars, was the film violent or controversial, etc.
Charles Kennedy - Rose City Toastmasters
The Lost Art of Complaining
After being a Toastmaster for a while and giving evaluations with tons of positive feedback, we become conditioned to sound encouraging and supportive which is great, BUT we lose a very important skill along the way. It is complaining!
For this Table Topics session we will revitalize our ability to effectively complain!
Pick a number 1 – 10 for your topic to complain about.
Note: Listening to people complain about things is quite entertaining and should bring some laughs!
1. A spider crawls across your living room floor.
2. You find a $20 bill at the grocery store.
3. You are waiting in line to get gas.
4. You get a blender for your birthday.
5. While waiting in line at Starbucks, a child takes the last 3 sample brownies.
6. You find a scratch on your car.
7. Someone cuts you off while driving.
8. The seat is left up on the toilet.
9. Your boss gives you a new project.
10. Someone spreads a rumor that you are insensitive.
John Bridge, DTM, TM2 T-Mobile Toastmasters #5137, Bellevue, WA.
S Sales Topics
Pick Random objects and have someone sell it. This one was inspired by The Wolf of Wall Street in the scene where he said sell me this pen. You can have them talk about colors, options, varieties and how it can be used. The whole object of sales is to get people out of their comfort zone, and this will certainly do that.
Pen, Car, Table, Couch, Pot, Computer, Watch, Flower, Television, Shampoo
example: Pen - This pen will certainly be of great use to you for signing any of your important documents and should be in your pocket or pocketbook. It can come with red, blue, black or even green ink, yes even green ink! We have many different models that can come in a wide variety of colors and even finishes. It can be dull, chrome, steel, black, red or any color option we can think of. I was at the bank yesterday making a deposit (I love deposits) and I realized I had no pen to sign my deposits, that's never a good situation to be in. I definitely could have used this lovely pen that I'm sharing with all of you today. Everybody needs a good pen and this one certainly can fit that bill for all of you here today.
You get the idea I think
Matt Victoria, Toastmasters club #6847, Edison, NJ.