Master the Art of Table Topics

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The contest season of Table Topics has ended, and I was fortunate to witness all levels of competition. Impromptu speaking is challenging, even for advanced Toastmasters. Here’s what I learned.

The best table topic responses are structured like a speech. They have an opening, a body, and a close. First, respond by repeating the question aloud. Then, state your stand or position. Support your position with at least two points. Repeat your position and supporting points. Sum it up with a “what’s in it for me” statement.

For instance, the Table Topicsmaster asks: “If you were a tree, what type of tree would you be?”

OPENING: If I were a tree, what type of tree would I be? Trees are beautiful creations, and there are so many varieties; I would be a majestic, redwood tree.

Two reasons:
1-Redwoods are the tallest growing trees on the planet.
2-When redwood trees are cut down they become a very durable lumber with many versatile uses.

(1st point)
The Redwood National Forest is located along the coast in northern California and is home to the tallest known trees in the world. In 1963 the park service measured a redwood tree at 367 feet tall and 24 feet in diameter. Can you imagine walking into Home Depot and asking for a 24′ chain saw? What’s so amazing is that these giant trees grew from a small seed, about 3 times the size of a pin head.

(2nd point)
Redwood lumber is commonly used outdoors, often for fencing and decks, because it withstands the elements. Redwood has smaller shrinkage than other lumber and upholds its beautiful look longer than other products, with less warping. Redwood is soft and durable and easy to work with.

CLOSING: I highly recommend a visit to the west coast to see the majestic redwood trees. Once a small seed, now a gigantic tree that towers over 300 feet tall, it’s a breathtaking experience. If you need durable exterior lumber, redwood is an excellent choice. So, if you ask what type of tree I would be? A majestic redwood tree!

1- Structure your response like a speech.
2- Have an opening, body, and closing.
3- Determine the point you want to make.
4- Come up with 2 supporting points.
5- Sum it up in your closing.

Good Luck! Practice hard and I look forward to seeing you at the next contest!

Lance Gardner
Airport Toastmasters

See what the judges look for in a Table Topics response.