It happens to all of us. We sign up to lead Table Topics® thinking, This meeting I’m going to put some thought and effort into coming up with clever topics. Then the night before the meeting, you quickly Google “Questions for Table Topics” and pick the first 10 to 12 suitable ideas.
Which means club members answer questions such as, “What was your best birthday present?” or “What superpower would you like to have?”
There’s nothing intrinsically wrong with those topics, but wouldn’t it be nice to have some new ideas and liven up your meetings?
The Topicsmaster—the member who leads the meeting’s Table Topics session—plays a key role in making the activity engaging and worthwhile. Here are four ideas to give your topics a creative twist.
1 If your club is meeting online, take advantage of people being in their homes
Simply say, “Everyone has 30 seconds to find something in your house that has a special meaning to you. GO!” People usually laugh as they race around, looking for that one-of-a-kind item. When everyone comes back, select members to display their item and explain its significance. You’ll discover things about your club members you never knew. You might see a club member display his first bowling trophy or a parent hold up their toddler!
2 It’s easy to come up with Table Topics for holidays such as Valentine's Day and Mother's Day.But did you know there are hundreds of quirky “holidays” throughout the year that make excellent topics? Simply go online and look up “Untraditional Holidays” or some variation of that phrase, and you’ll discover Polar Bear Plunge Day (January 1) and International Tweed Day (April 3). For this Table Topic, give the participant the name of a holiday and have them describe how they will celebrate. Here are a few to get you started:
- March 1, World Compliment Day
- March 20, Big Bird’s Birthday
- August 6, International Cat Day
- September 27, World Tourism Day
3 Wouldn’t it be great to write a bestselling book?
You’d travel the world giving speeches and doing TV interviews. Here’s a chance for members to at least pretend they are being queried by Oprah about their literary accomplishments. Ahead of the club meeting, cover 10-12 books with fake covers. Nothing fancy. Just come up with unique book titles.
Each person participating in Table Topics gets a book and then proceeds to act as if they were being interviewed on a major TV show, explaining what the book is about. (For online meetings, share your screen to show your book cover.) Possible titles could include How to Train Your Hamster to Star in Movies and Commercials, Lose Weight Eating Only Fudge and Pasta, and Why You Only Need Two Hours of Sleep A Night.
4 Some laws make perfect sense.
People should stop at a stop sign. But what about laws that you think might be outdated or unimportant? Table Topics participants will be told about a law, and then share their reasons why this one should be enforced. Don’t worry, you don’t need a legal degree to participate. Thanks to the internet, it is easy to find these unusual laws online.
- In France, it is illegal to carry live snails on a high-speed
train unless they have a ticket.
- In Mexico, bicyclists are not allowed to lift their feet from
- In the state of Vermont (U.S.), a wife must get her husband’s permission to get false teeth.
- In Petrolia, Ontario, Canada, a law limits excessive noise, including yelling, shouting, whistling, and singing.
Table Topics play a vital role in developing public speaking skills. It takes creativity to develop coherent thoughts about topics you often know little about. Using some of these unusual themes will go a long way in helping members have fun while learning to think on their feet.
Do you have some creative Table Topics activities you’d like to share? Write to email@example.com.
Silvana Clark is a member of Bellingham Toastmasters Club 60 in Bellingham, Washington. She has spoken around the world to groups ranging from the Canadian Llama Association to the American Electrical Contractors. Her latest book is Millennials Versus Boomers. Learn more at www.silvanaclark.com.