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Meeting Roles | Officer Roles | Mentoring

Meeting Role Descriptions

The purpose of table topics is to have members "think on their feet" and speak for one to two minutes. It is also meant to give people who do not have a speaking role an opportunity to speak.

Prepare a brief but thorough summary of your role as Table Topics Master that explains your role in the program to visiting guests. You may want to include comments about the skills that are improved during the exercises. Select a theme and at least 6 table topics questions that promote easy discourse. (There may not be time for all of them.) Feel free to be as original as you'd like, but make sure to phrase your questions so that the speaker will know clearly what they are to talk about. Keep in mind that the goal of Table Topics is to provide an opportunity for members and guests to speak extemporaneously. This is not a "stump the speaker" exercise. The Toastmaster will be contacting you the week before the meeting to confirm your participation and answer any questions you may have.

Before the Meeting:
Take a look at the meeting agenda to see which members do not have roles, or have only minor roles, in the meeting. These are the people you will want to call on first. If guests arrive early, briefly explain table topics and ask whether they would be willing to participate if time allows.

During the Meeting:
When the Toastmaster calls on you, approach the lectern and shake the Toastmasters hand. You are now in control of the meeting.

Explain the purpose and rules of table topics (this should take no more than two minutes):

  • The purpose is to learn to speak on your feet, clearly and concisely, and to make sure everyone at the meeting gets a chance to speak
  • The respondent is encouraged to answer the question, but since the real purpose is to become comfortable speaking to an audience, the respondent can choose another table topic question or speak on whatever topic they are comfortable speaking about.
  • Responses should be 1-2 minutes. (Explain the timing cards if it was not done earlier.)
  • Encourage the use of the word of the day.
  • Guests always have the option to decline.
Introduce your theme or reason for the questions. Try to keep the program light and positive. Be brief, allowing others to talk.

Ask your first question, then randomly call on a person to answer. This lets everyone mentally prepare to answer the question. First call on members with no other speaking roles, then members with minor roles, then willing guests, and finally others on the agenda who would like to participate. Be sure to give guests easy questions.

Stay at the lectern until the person arrives, shake hands, and then be seated nearby. When the person concludes, be ready to approach the lectern to shake hands and release the person to sit down.

On completion of the session, thank all participants and return control of the meeting back to the Toastmaster of the Day.

Helpful Links:
Table Topics Questions from John Sleigh
Ideas for Table Topics compiled by Anthony Shipley
Serving Table Topics by Lois Cook Peterson (PDF)

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