Monday, January 7, 2013

Table Topics Master - Tips for effective performance

Do you know that a Table Topics master plays a key role in improving the club membership and in providing opportunity for every member to speak? How can you be effective in your role as a Table Topics Master? This article provides you some tips for performing your role as a Table Topics master, effectively.

Also read: 

How a Table Topics master can hurt your club membership?

1) Table Topics Master should come to the meeting at least 15 minutes in advance. This will give an opportunity for the Table Topics Master to identify 'who are all playing roles' and 'who are all NOT playing roles' in the club meeting. Most of the times, the role players list changes in the last minute. Table Topics Master should consult with Toastmaster of the Day and General Evaluator to make sure that he/she has the updated list of role players.

10 ways of identifying role players for your meeting

2) Table Topics Master should have a list of identified speech topics - at least 15 different topics. Preferably, a new toastmaster should get those topics reviewed by a mentor or a senior toastmaster in the club. This will help to ensure that the topics(s) provide scope for the participants to speak for at least 2 minutes.

3) Before calling a guest to participate in Table Topics, the Table Topics Master should check with the guest whether he/she would be interested to participate in the Table Topics Segment. Not every guest would be excited to deliver an unprepared / impromptu speech in front of strangers.

4) Table Topics Master should call members in the following order (My personal recommendation!). If you follow this order, even if you had to cut short the Table Topics segment due to lack of time, you would've covered all of your non-role players.
- members who are non-role players
- members who are minor role players (Timer, AH Counter, Grammarian, Ballot Counter etc.,)
- guests (if they are interested)
- members of other toastmasters club(s), who has visited your club

5) Table Topics Master should keep his/her introductions very short. I've seen Table Topics Master who speak for 5 minutes before getting into the Table Topics segment. This denies opportunity for at least 2 Table Topics speakers. A few Table Topics masters talk for about a 1 minute after every table topics speech. This is also not recommended.

6) The purpose of Table Topics segment is to encourage members to think on their feet and speak. If Table Topics master selects topics that are "too tough" or topics that are "too abstract" or topics that lack "clarity", members will find it difficult to speak. For example,

  • "Assume that you are caught by a Traffic Police while speeding and you have to escape without paying fines to him" If you give this topic to a new member, he/she would not have any clue about how to speak and what to speak. 
  • A topic like "Craziness is the welcome mat at the doors of creativity" is too difficult for somebody new to handle. 
  • A topic like "What do you think about economy?!" is too abstract

7) Customize the topic to the person. For example, you can give a relatively easier topic to a new toastmaster or a guest who participates in the Table Topics segment.

"Every member who comes to the toastmasters meetings should get an opportunity to speak" - If you have this as the mantra of your club, I'm quite confident about the success of your club.

Let us give opportunity for everyone to speak, learn and grow!

How a Table Topics master can hurt your club membership?

"Every member who comes to the toastmasters meetings should get an opportunity to speak" - if this is the mantra of your club, I'm very confident that your club will be successful. Toastmasters is a 'learn by doing' program where a member learns by performing a role in the club.

Also read: 

Table Topics Evaluation Tips
Handling Table Topics - 6 ways of getting the initial thinking time

There are three types of members in any toastmasters club:
  • Members who proactively signup for meeting roles in advance
  • Members who take roles only when it is THRUST upon them
  • Members who enjoy coming to the meetings, but do not sign-up for any roles 
Topics Master plays a crucial role in engaging and giving opportunity to members who are not playing any role in the meeting. However, some Table Topics Masters do not realize the importance of giving opportunity to EVERY MEMBER of the club TO SPEAK. Such Table Topics Masters, do one of the following:
  • Calls the 'favorite' or 'popular' toastmasters in the club (for ex., Club President, Club Mentor etc.,)
  • Calls the members who are already playing a role in the meeting
  • Calls the member(s) of a different toastmasters club, who is visiting your club as a guest
  • Calls guests (even without getting their permission before the meeting)
  • Calls for volunteers (and a member who already had a chance to speak in another role goes to the stage again to speak)
This affects the success of the club in the long run. For example, a member who spends 30 minutes to an hour to commute to attend the club meeting may not get an opportunity to speak in the meeting. When new members do not get an opportunity to speak for 2 or 3 weeks in a row, they may lose interest/motivation to come to the meeting.

Either the club officers should motivate such members to take a role every week or the Table Topics Master should give an opportunity for such members to participate in Table Topics segment. Otherwise, it would have an impact on the club membership in the long run.

Table Topics Master - Tips for effective performance