Sunday, June 05, 2011

How to tackle Table Topics

I'm no longer active in Toastmasters, but that doesn't mean I no longer take an interest in how they do things at the world's biggest public speaking club. Specifically, I am most intrigued by how some speakers seem to handle Table Topics so effortlessly.

Table Topics is a segment in a Toastmasters meeting in which participants speak off-the-cuff about a given topic for two minutes.

Two minutes is not a very long time, which is precisely why it is very easy to waste the 120 seconds on making feeble arguments or getting sidetracked, generally not able to really say what you want to say.

So how do you deliver a polished Table Topics speech? Here are some techniques employed by seasoned Toastmasters:

1. 5Ws + H
State the what, where, when, who and how of a given topic.

That is, you state your Point on a given topic, then Re-emphasise your point, followed by an Example and lastly, state the Point again. This technique works well with topics that require you to take a stand.

3. Another approach is talk about the Past --> Present --> Future of a given topic.

4. Yet another technique is to use a Cause --> Result approach.

There you have it. Four techniques at your disposal for tackling Table Topics. And remember also the three rules in public speaking:

* Don't apologise
* Don't ramble
* Don't invent


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