Table Topics – Impromptu Speaking

At the Toastmasters meeting, the table topics master brings table topics for members. He/she might develop a theme around a series of questions. For example, it can be about colors, or friendships, or sports, or movies, or fiction, or high school locker room, or Halloween … the sky is the limit as to where you can take table topics.

As a speaker, you have 20-30 seconds to think about your answer. Why is that? Because that’s all, you got. Remember now that with toastmasters, nobody is judging where you are taking it. Okay, to be a contrarian, totally okay to have humor in there, bring in a surprise maybe. You are talking to your friends, after all.

 Use P.R.E.P technique (Point – Reason – Example – Point)

  • Make your point.
  • Give your reason for that.
  • Give a few examples from your perspective, experience, thoughts.
  • Closeout the talk making your point again.

You have a few seconds to think of your point. Pick one and then use this P.R.E.P. technique to develop the answer. Trust your instincts and simply go for it; it will work for you.

 Use Pros and Cons Technique

Explain the pros and cons to potential direction, or answer. After that, give your recommendation.

Learn more about these two techniques in this video:


Make a point, and tell a story about it.

“Let me tell you what happened when I was doing that last …”

Make your story specific with details of where/when it happened. Use real names in it as well that will make it so much easier to open up.

 When the topic is about a social issue, or something generic, think of how it related to you, how it can impact your life personally, and develop it.


Example One: “What do you think of the year-round school schedule?”

Personal angle to it in your answer. Are you in a schedule like that? What would you do if you have a schedule like this? What does it mean to you personally? How does it relate to you? Talk about it. Pull in a personal story maybe (for example, we were able to have a two-month vacation to India last summer because …). It also naturally helps you connect with your audience since there is an emotional pull to it that usually comes from inside.

If you take to a direction to talk about the overall advantages and disadvantages of the schedule to students in general, it will require that you come up with a list of reasons in real-time. You can still deliver a compelling statement; it may not be as easy as a personal angle.


Example Two: “What do you think about the legalization of marijuana?

Personal angel to it in your answer … how can it impact your safety and well being? How can it change or improve your options, prospects?


Note: Now, if it is a real job interview or something at school, would you be more careful about what to say? The answer is yes, of course. With the Toastmasters table topics, we are developing “muscle” to think on our feet. So, okay, and even better, to have fun with it. Also, remember that for situations at school, you are much more prepared naturally, as a question is related to the subject matter (and not something random). At a job interview, if it is about what you put in your resume, then, of course, you know so much about it, to begin with, that’d help you.

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