At the Toastmasters meeting, the table topics master brings table topics for members. They might develop a theme around a series of questions. For example, it can be about colors, friendships, sports, movies, fiction, high school locker room, or Halloween … the sky is the limit where you can take table topics.
You have 20-30 seconds to think about your answer as a speaker. Why is that? Because that’s all, you got. Remember now that with toastmasters, nobody judges 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 the 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, and thoughts.
- Close out the talk by making your point again.
Use the Pros and Cons Technique
Explain the pros and cons of the 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 relates 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 on a schedule like that? What would you do if you had a program 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 your answer: How can it impact your safety and well-being? How can it change or improve your options and prospects?
Note: Now, if it is an actual 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 you know so much about it, to begin with, that’d help you.