Monday, January 7, 2013

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


  1. I 100% agree with you that everyone should have a chance to speak at the TM meetings. My questions here is, as a Table Topic TM at my current club, they want to ask questions before a speaker is selected. The last 5 clubs I belonged to did the opposite. I like the idea of asking a speaker before revealing questions to the audience. What do you think? Thanks. My email is

    1. If it is a budding club, which has a lot of newbies, it is OK to reveal th questions before a speaker is selected. You can also do that for calling guests to speak during Table Topics segment. If it is a well established club with seasoned Toastmasters, it would be good to call them to the stage and then share the speech Topic.