Do have some interesting meeting or table topic ideas?
You can send me your ideas,
so I can add it to the list and try it in my club.
Members need to prepare enough that they could fill in for any position. They need to have a speech topic or outline depending on their experience level. They need to have a topic or envelope with topics ready.
Both clubs get a new speaker and a fresh evaluation. The speakers and evaluators involved have the opportunity to speak in a different setting without leaving the Toastmasters' environment.
I thought Sheila's idea was interesting, so we tried it at our club. Everyone enjoyed it. Fortunately, people had more than one poem because Robert Service was very much a club favorite. A couple people had to use their second choice.
For Halloween, an all Ghost Story meeting.
It's a fun way to get people to try story telling. The first time
we tried a poetry meeting, several people choose Robert Service poems
would fit will as ghost stories. The library and the internet are
possible sources of stories.
With a couple weeks advanced planning, the entire meeting can be
around the theme. The speakers present a speech on the
The toastmaster builds on the them during his/her portion of the
It may be possible to have table topics use the skills presented or
the topic discussed. Or, table topics may be a chance to practice
the skills that were presented by the speakers.
A team presentation from the advanced manuals Technical Presentations or Professional Salesperson can be used in place of all of the speaking position. The toastmaster and topicmaster can use the same topic the team presentation does for a unified program around a common theme.
The workshop projects in The Discussion Leader and Professional
Speaker manuals make an excellent meeting. They incorporate
or more speakers. They also have one or more exercises like round
robin discussion or buzz session. These exercises give everyone a
chance to participate so they make a good alternative to table topics.
If you have never presented a workshop, the Successs/Leadership
modules are a good place to gain experience before "starting from
Just because the meeting as a goal (increasing membership), you shouldn't skip the manual speeches. The motivational speech can be "Make It Persuasive" from the "Basic Manual" or "Manage and Motivate" from Speeches by Managers. Ideas from other clubs can be "A Fact-Finding Report" from Speaking to Inform. The round robin discussion can be "Round Robin" from The Discussion Leader.
For a club to be successful, it needs a good educational program and
a good membership program. The Moments of Truth
Club manual provides a comprehensive plan for a good educational
"The Training the Sales Force" from The Professional Salesperson
provides a good format for teaching members how to recruit. The
robin discussion can center around where to look for possible new
A module can be broken into pieces and/or a series of modules can be presented. This can be presented much like a Speechcraft. This allows you to have a membership event without competing with other clubs who may be offering Speechcraft at the same time.
The only draw back to Speechcraft is it's not only Toastmasters most effective membership tool; it's Toastmasters most popular membership tool. For example, last fall 4 of 5 clubs in our area presented a Speechcraft. I gave a guest for 2 other clubs in near by areas. It's wise to check with nearby clubs when planning a Speechcraft.
You aren't limited to these contests. Your club could hold a contest its self for invite near by clubs. You could hold a Tall Tales Contest. Some people have complained that the topics in the International Speech Contest are too safe; you could hold a Controversial Topics Contest.
To get your club members to compete the standard contests, you need to sell it to your members. When I was Area Governor, I was surprised by the number of people who forgot what they learned in speech #8 "Make It Persuasive". List some of the things the members will get from the contest. The contests are an opportunity for them to speak in a different environment but still among Toastmasters. It's one of the few times we give a speech, take the feedback and improve that same speech.
This is a nice break from routine and fun ... and surprisingly, it's educational, too. The thing is that you literally have to know your meeting routines "backwards and forwards" to do them in reverse. We really stop to think ... Now, how does that order of events go?
Because the Grammarian, timer and Word Master all give their reports at the beginning of the meeting ... the people they report on try to follow whatever was in their "report" ... speaking over or under time, etc. An interesting thing is that, we've observed our rate of "converting members into guests" seems higher at these meetings. It gets people over any intimidation they might feel about Toastmasters.
[We've tried this in our club meetings. This tends to be love
it or hate it type of meeting.]
- Evaluation is your opinion and the choices of words affects the listeners reaction
- Balance of praise and suggestions
- The "Evaluation Educational Talk Outline" in the back of Effective Speech Evaluation. (It was one of the manuals you received when you joined.
- See the articles at http://www.oocities.com/Athens/Acropolis/3558/eval.htm.
There should be a person who has the speakers manual and do the
evaluation. The official evaluators can participate as part of
topics or as part of the normal evaluation section of the
The official evaluations should be setup ahead of time so they can
the speakers and check for any special objectives.
This doesn't count toward training in the Distinguished Club
However, it does serve the more important objective of getting all of
officers trained. This, also, introduces your newer members to
an officer and make it more likely that they will volunteer to be an
at your next elections.
The two prepared speeches are the opening arguments by the
and defense attorney. Table topics is the testimony of the
[I've also done this as table topics where we put Goldy Locks on trial.]
After the club speakers, I gave my workshop on the value of humor in
speaking. Then, they had a joke-a-thon. Every member had
told to come prepared with several jokes. They were very well
The whole meeting was fun, funny and great fellowship.
Table Topics Ideas
- Headlines from the news paper or web site are recorded on a piece of paper and placed into an envelope.
- Select quotations for people to comment on. This can be from a book of quotations or your favorite cookie file. (from Dennis Chada, ATM)
- Start with the premise that every one has returned from vacation and wishes to share their vacation pictures. Then, pass around an envelope of pictures for club members to explain. You can get as creative as you like for the pictures.
- Collect a number of unusual items from the kitchen, shop or electronics bench and place them into a bag. Each person must describe what the item is used for. As a variation, they will need to sell the item to the rest of the club. (The difference is they need to let the member know why they need the item and build enthusiasm to buy it.)
- A topic that worked well for our club was to bring in a bag of pennies. Each person had to talk about something that happened in that year or something you were doing during that year. [Unfortunately, I didn't save the e-mail address of the person who made the this suggestion.]
- For my table topics one time I made personalized license plates from license plates I had seen on cars at work. I asked people to describe what kind of person drives the car and what the license plate means. (from Randy Samberg)
- Give each speaker 3 nouns and have them tell a story using all 3. (from Bill Bishop)
- Create a list of any 12 topics. Have each speaker roll a pair of dice and speak about the topic matching the count on the dice. (from Bill Bishop)
- Use junk mail and have each person explain why you would benefit from it. (from a audience menber at a District 7 District meeting)
- Instead of using an envelope or bag use plastic Easter eggs or bake the topics into fortune cookies. If you need a recipe for fortune cookies, Michael Alexander posted the following recipe.
|3/4 cup unbeaten egg whites
1 2/3 cups sugar
1/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup melted butter
1 cup flour
1/2 teaspoon vanilla or 1 tablespoon lemon juice
3/4 cup finely chopped blanched almonds
|Preheat oven to 350o F
Mix egg whites, sugar, and salt until sugar disloves. Add other ingredients.
Drop the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time onto an ungreased cookie sheet. Bake until golden brown (about 10 min).
Mold cookies over a wooden spoon handle, inserting fortunes (on 3 by 3/4 inch papers).
Each person tries to leave the story at a mini-climax. For example, "when Bob arrived in Portland, he went to the baggage carousel but instead of finding his suit case he found [pass control to the next speaker] ".
It's also fun to make a sudden change in the plot. This frustrates the people who have pre-planned their segment. For example, "But, instead of heading to the mountain to go skiing, Bob headed for the coast."
These cards are shuffled and given to the other half of the club. Their table topic is to use the information on the card to create in introduction explaining why the topic is of interest and why the speaker is knowledgeable. (This is very effective if it's preceded by a speech on introductions.)
Once introduced, the speaker delivers their table topics on the subject that was introduced. Since it is from the speakers biography, it's a subject that they know.
With the Round Robin, you move around the table each person getting a chance to speak or pass. The time is shorter than standard table topics because you will go around the table several times. You quit when people seam to be reaching a consensus, most people are passing or you run out of time.
An excellent application of the Round Robin is to generate ideas for membership building. Use the first part of the Round Robin to brain storm ideas. The use the last part of the Round Robin to select a set of ideas to try. Be sure you assign each idea you want to try to a person to lead that activity.
With the buzz session, you break the room into groups of about four to six people. Each group is given a subtopic of your main theme. Each group has a leader and an note taker. They talk about their subtopic within their group. One person from each group presents their ideas for the entire club.
In the first format, the members draw a topic. The first person speaks in favor of the topic while the second person opposes the topic. This format gives people the chance to speak with little time to plan.
In the second format, everyone speaks on the same topic. Every other person speaks in favor of the topic, and the others oppose the topic. This format requires club members to work as a team.
Donna McNabb suggests using a book of questions with numbered
Each member picks a number between 1 and the number of questions.
The Topicmaster reads the question. If there are any questions
aren't appropriate for Toastmasters, the member is asked to pick an
Pass out two pieces index cards. They should be two different sizes so they can be easily sorted. For example, if the cards are 3 x 5. Cut half the cards so they are 3 x 3. Cut the other cards so they are 2 1/2 x 5.
Now have the participants place half of the information on one card and half on the other card. Continuing the example, have them list a person on the square card. (It's better if they use Mother, girl friend, etc. instead of Jan Smith.) Have them put something they would like to thank the person for on the other card.
Collect the cards. Sort them into two piles. Shuffle the piles. When it is the persons turn to speak, they will draw a card from each pile. Read the two cards and then speak on the topic.
Random Topics with dice
The following idea was suggested by Rick Farley, CTM.
This Table Topic idea is based around Christmas gifts, and it was a dice deal. The object was to roll the dice and what ever they added up to was the age of a boy or girl, you would speak on what you would buy them for Christmas. The first dye was rolled and if it was odd the child was a boy and if it was even, the child was a girl.
This will also work with birthday gifts.
In case there are any guest who want to participate, I have some general topics. I often use, "You've been asked by a local school teacher, to speak to his/her class about your profession. What will you tell them?"
The draw back to this topic is you need to call on each person and give them their topic. This is what I refer to as my cold breakfast topic because breakfast always comes at the beginning of table topics.
- The first line I am giving you is "once upon a time", and the last line is "happily ever after". Tell me the story that goes in between.
- The first line is now "happily ever after", and the last line is now "once upon a time". Tell me the story that goes in between.
- For the final question, I got the favorite color, favorite animal, and favorite pastime from the three featured speakers. They happened to be blue, an armadillo, and fishing. I then asked one of our seasoned veterans to tell me a story about a blue armadillo who enjoyed fishing.
As part of the introduction, the topicmaster should explain that the person doing the inviting should talk about the benefits of Toastmasters to the potential guest.
- Tell us about a postcard that you have sent
- What makes a great postcard?
- Tell us about a postcard that you have received
- Tell us about the time that you forgot to send a postcard
Now provide the next speaker with a picture post card and ask her why she would like to visit that place. (Do this several times with a variety of cards.
Other applications for picture post cards (ask the same question to each participant, just change the card):
- What do you know about this place?
- What you write if you were sending this card?
- To whom would you send a card from here?
Do you remember:
- Your first day at work
- Your first car
- The first time you used a computer
- Your first date
- Your last day at school
- Your most memorable holiday
- The best movie that you ever saw
- The best book that you have ever read
- Your best friend from your school days
- Your first speeding ticket (run in with the law)
- Your most stunning outfit
- Why did you write this book?
- Why did you buy this book?
- What was the most interesting lesson you learned from the book?
- What did you say when your [boss], [spouse], [mother], [daughter], [neighbor] found you reading this book?
Book Titles (these are all legit books) - check out your own library or bookstore for even better ones.
- How to work for a jerk
- Getting to yes
- Thriving on chaos
- When the luck runs out
- The one minute manager meets the monkey
- Sacred cows make the best burgers
- The pursuit of WOW!
- What color is your parachute?
- Swim with the sharks without being eaten alive
- Dig your well before you're thirsty
- The Age of Uncertainty
- It's only too late if you don't start now
- I could do anything if only I knew what it was
- The politically correct guide to dating
- Six thinking hats
- The Good Samaritan Strikes Again
- Beware of the Naked Man Who Offers You The Shirt Off His Back
- My Teacher Glows In The Dark
- The Joy of Stress
- I Will Know It When I See It
- A Fine and Pleasant Misery
- They Shoot Canoes, Don't They?
- The Counterfeit Man
- Where the Sidewalk Ends
- Favorite holiday as a child
- Funniest holiday memory
- Most memorable holiday
- Holiday travel story
- Holiday that was the most fun
- Most interesting holiday meal
- Most unusual gift
- Most successful gift
- Best (or worst) party
- Most unusual party
- Holiday traditions (suggested by Rick Clements)
- Each person brings a small wrapped present (possibly a white elephant gift). For the first round of table topics, they describe the gift without telling what it is. Each person then chooses a gift. There is a second round of table topics with people explaining why they chose the gift. (Suggested by a member of District 7 at the District Conference.)
We started by passing a bowl full of M&M's around the table witha plastic spoon and asked each person to take a spoonful of M&M's place them on their napkin and don't eat them yet.
Once everyone had their M&M's in front of them, I pulled out my easel, on which were 6 questions, each labeled under a different color:
|Brown||You just won $100 million on the lottery. What would you by first?|
|Green||you have $1 million to give to just once charity. Which one do you choose and why?|
|Blue||If you could acquire a talent/skill just by asking, what would you ask for and why?|
|Orange||If you could relive one day without changing anything, what day would it be?|
|Yellow||You just won a trip to anywhere in the world for an entire month. where would you go?|
|Red||if you could spend the day with any one person, past or present, who would it be and why?|
The object is that for each M&M you have of a certain color,
you had to answer corresponding question. for instance, if you
have 3 green M&M's then you have $1 million to each of 3 charities,
and have to tell every one which 3.
The problem with unstructured round robin evaluations is after about the forth person, the evaluations sound like "I agree with ___". We want everyone to observe the speech from a different perspective. I had copied the evaluation page from basic manual and advanced manual speech projects. I gave everyone a different page.
I told them, "please comment on anything that you really liked and any suggestions that you have. The evaluation forms are so everyone will look at his speech from a different perspective. This will help us comment on more aspects of the speech. When we are done, we will give him the evaluation forms. We want to maximize the feedback we give."
trail for a meeting and used it for table topics at a couple clubs. I used Goldy Locks. Both times the responses where hilarious.
[The story of Goldy Locks is about a young girl who gets lots and goes into the house of the three bears. She eats their porridge and breaks Baby Bear's chair. She's caught sleeping in his bed.]
Everyone drew a slip of paper. I had both the order and the character that would be played. The prosecutor and defense attorney went first followed by the witnesses.
So far I have gone to magazines and cut out a couple of recipes with eggs in them I have recipes for little chocolate souffles and Spanish style scrambled eggs. Any ideas on what type of questions to ask about egg recipes? I had something in mind about asking if they ever made anything like that recipe and if they liked it. Would you include this recipe in your next cookbook? Would you pay for this type of food at a restaurant? I don't want participants to spend too much time reading the recipe.
Ideas for Toastmasters. A collection of meeting ideas, ideas for officers and speech ideas.
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Last Updated: $Date: 2005/01/08 21:49:00 $ (GMT)