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.
Hot Seat Meeting
While we normally try to be prepared at our meetings, we are faced with
occasions when we need to fill in unexpectedly. At the hot seat
everyone draws for their assignment. If a new member (someone who
has given less than three speeches) draws speaker or toastmaster, they
are allowed to draw again.
Members need to prepare enough that they could fill in for any
They need to have a speech topic or outline depending on their
level. They need to have a topic or envelope with topics ready.
Your club sends a speaker and evaluator to a near by club. They
a speaker and evaluator to your club. In each case the speaker is
evaluated by an evaluator for a different club.
Both clubs get a new speaker and a fresh evaluation. The
and evaluators involved have the opportunity to speak in a different
without leaving the Toastmasters' environment.
Sheila from Tandem Toastmasters in Cupertino, CA suggests, "Once every
six months, my club has a Poetry Meeting. Everyone who wants to
poems brings one (or more). After everyone has had a chance to
about five minutes' worth of poems, people can have second turns, and
I thought Sheila's idea was interesting, so we tried it at our
Everyone enjoyed it. Fortunately, people had more than one poem
Robert Service was very much a club favorite. A couple people had
to use their second choice.
After our all poetry meeting, Bill
a guest, suggested an all Shakespeare meeting. He said
club really enjoyed it when they tried it.
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.
The meeting can be structured around a common theme. Many clubs
a theme for the meeting. Usually only the toastmaster works with
the theme. Sometimes the humorist and topicmaster will try to use
the theme also.
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.
Advanced Manual Meeting
Some people believe the longer advanced manuals are a problem to
However, they provide an excellent format to build a meeting around.
A team presentation from the advanced manuals Technical
or Professional Salesperson can be used in place of all of the
position. The toastmaster and topicmaster can use the same topic
the team presentation does for a unified program around a common
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
A variation of the theme meeting is to make the theme membership
The speeches can focus on the importance of building membership,
that have worked for other clubs, the elements of a good club program
on inviting guests. Table topics can be a round
robin discussion or an exercise on inviting new
Just because the meeting as a goal (increasing membership), you
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
from Speaking to Inform. The round robin discussion can
"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
Community Action Meeting
Based on idea from Patterns In Programming by
The idea is to encourage members to be come active the community.
Find out what issues on the agenda of your county or town. Many
they issues will have a report prepared by the county or town
Obtain a copy of the report. Have someone present the majority
while someone else presents the minority view. Table topics could
discuss the issue that was presented.
Toastmasters International has several modules on topics such as
listening, leadership and creative thinking. These are in a
format that can fill one or more meetings. The modules have
that you can paraphrase or modify to fit your meeting format. They also
contain exercises that compliment the scripts. (You need to
the module if you will want to use them for an Able Toastmaster or
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
to have a membership event without competing with other clubs who may
offering Speechcraft at the same time.
Speechcraft is Toastmasters number one membership tool. It is an eight
week course which covers the basics of speaking. Experienced members of
our club or guests give how-to speeches. The Speechcraft participants
the opportunity to give their first one to three speeches. While this
be given outside of the club, it's most effective as a membership tool
when given at club meetings.
The only draw back to Speechcraft is it's not only Toastmasters most
effective membership tool; it's Toastmasters most popular membership
For example, last fall 4 of 5 clubs in our area presented a
I gave a guest for 2 other clubs in near by areas. It's wise to check
nearby clubs when planning a Speechcraft.
Twice a year, we have international and regional contests. In the
spring, there is the Internal Speech and Evaluation Contest. In
fall, many regions hold the Humorous Speech and Table Topics Contest.
You aren't limited to these contests. Your club could hold a
its self for invite near by clubs. You could hold a Tall Tales
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
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
Suggested by Alice Schubach
You asked if anybody has other ideas for meeting variety. One thing we
do in our club, a couple of times a year is the "reverse
Everything is backwards. You start with "closing the meeting", have the
General Evaluation, work backwards through speeches and Table Topics,
up finally with the Invocation and Pledge. Speech Evaluations come
the speeches ... but, of course, since this has to be a "made-up"
the speaker gets a "real" evaluation from somebody, outside of the
meeting. A Table Topics speaker talks about anything he or she wishes
then the Table Topics leader says what the topic "will be" ... or
was! And so on ...
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
routines "backwards and forwards" to do them in reverse. We
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
whatever was in their "report" ... speaking over or under time, etc. An
interesting thing is that, we've observed our rate of "converting
into guests" seems higher at these meetings. It gets people over any
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.]
For the prepared speeches, have one or more of the speakers
use evaluation for their topic. If there is more than one speaker
talking about evaluation, there needs to be coordination to avoid
Some possible topics are:
Evaluation is your opinion and the choices of words
Balance of praise and suggestions
The "Evaluation Educational Talk Outline" in the back of Effective
Evaluation. (It was one of the manuals you received when you
For table topics, each participant will evaluate one of the
To encourage people to look at the speech in different ways. Copy
blank evaluation pages for other projects. Place a speakers name
on each page so each speaker has about the same number of evaluations.
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.
Officer training is important. However, morning and noon clubs
have trouble getting their officers to a training session in the
If your club has several experienced members, present a training
in one of your club meetings. We had a session organized by a
working on "The Team Technical Presentation" from the Technical
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.
Suggested by Shelly Turner, DTM
One of your members is on trial. The meeting can be fun if the
are something fun. For example, they could be the charge of
the cookies from the cookie jar. The charges against the accused
and the description of the scenario are handed out a week or two before
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.]
Suggested by Shelly Turner, DTM
[This was part of a meeting that included a humorous speech
Clubs with shorter meetings can have the joke-a-thon as a standalone
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.
Book Report Meeting
Suggested by Dennis J. Chada, ATM-G, CL
Everyone at the meeting presents a short speech on one topic. An
all book reports meeting. The object would be to get everybody in
attendance up to lectern for short (1-3 minute) speech. The
topic would be to report on a book the member read, liked, hated, would
recommend, would recommend be burned, etc..
Table Topics Ideas
The Envelope or Grab Bag
Each of the following table topics have the same basic format.
topic master decides if the person draws their topic when the person
them starts or finishes speaking. This way each person gets the
amount of time to prepare.
Headlines from the news paper or web site are recorded on a piece
and placed into an envelope.
Select quotations for people to comment on. This can be
of quotations or your favorite cookie file. (from Dennis Chada, ATM)
Start with the premise that every one has returned from vacation
to share their vacation pictures. Then, pass around an envelope
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
bench and place them into a bag. Each person must describe what
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
Each person had to talk about something that happened in that year or
you were doing during that year. [Unfortunately, I didn't save
e-mail address of the person who made the this suggestion.]
For my table topics one time I made personalized license plates
plates I had seen on cars at work. I asked people to describe
kind of person drives the car and what the license plate means.
Give each speaker 3 nouns and have them tell a story using all
(from Bill Bishop)
Create a list of any 12 topics. Have each speaker roll a
dice and speak about the topic matching the count on the dice.
Use junk mail and have each person explain why you would benefit
(from a audience menber at a District 7 District meeting)
Instead of using an envelope or bag use plastic Easter eggs or
topics into fortune cookies. If you need a recipe for fortune
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.
Drop the dough, 1 tablespoon at a time onto an ungreased
Bake until golden brown (about 10 min).
Mold cookies over a wooden spoon handle, inserting fortunes
(on 3 by
3/4 inch papers).
The topic master creates a cast of characters and a starts the story in
motion. Each person takes the story from where it was left and
it. The only exception is the last person who must provide a
Each person tries to leave the story at a mini-climax. For
"when Bob arrived in Portland, he went to the baggage carousel but
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
the people who have pre-planned their segment. For example, "But,
instead of heading to the mountain to go skiing, Bob headed for the
The Last Noun
This requires the speaker exercise listening, think and speaking
Each speaker talks about the last noun in the speech of the speaker
Half of the club is given a 3x5 card. They write their name and a
short biography. It includes their area of expertise at work and
These cards are shuffled and given to the other half of the
Their table topic is to use the information on the card to create in
explaining why the topic is of interest and why the speaker is
(This is very effective if it's preceded by a speech on introductions.)
Once introduced, the speaker delivers their table topics on the
that was introduced. Since it is from the speakers biography,
a subject that they know.
Round Robin or Buzz Session
The advanced manual The Discussion Leader projects "The Round
and "Buzz Session" make a good variation for table topics. They
everyone with a chance at impromptu speaking, but the format is very
than standard table topics.
With the Round Robin, you move around the table each person getting
a chance to speak or pass. The time is shorter than standard
topics because you will go around the table several times. You
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
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
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.
Debates make a good variation to table topics. They not only give
members a chance at impromptu speaking but also a chance to interact
other members. Our club has used two formats for debates.
In the first format, the members draw a topic. The first
speaks in favor of the topic while the second person opposes the
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
This format requires club members to work as a team.
Book of Questions
Joan suggested the book If. She selected questions from
book and call on people to answer them.
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
Random Topic Ideas
Random Topics from pairs of index cards
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
a person on the square card. (It's better if they use Mother,
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
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
up to was the age of a boy or girl, you would speak on what you would
them for Christmas. The first dye was rolled and if it was odd
child was a boy and if it was even, the child was a girl.
This will also work with birthday gifts.
We are often asked by our friends questions about our hobbies or
This table topic is intended to simulated that. As topic master,
you pick a topic for each person. The topic is selected based on
the person's life. For example, I asked a librarian what effect
Internet is having on libraries.
In case there are any guest who want to participate, I have some
topics. I often use, "You've been asked by a local school
to speak to his/her class about your profession. What will you
The draw back to this topic is you need to call on each person and
them their topic. This is what I refer to as my cold breakfast
because breakfast always comes at the beginning of table topics.
Create A Story
Suggested by Dave Kelly
I did table topics once where I asked three questions of three
people. Here were my questions:
The first line I am giving you is "once upon a time", and the
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
upon a time". Tell me the story that goes in between.
For the final question, I got the favorite color, favorite
favorite pastime from the three featured speakers. They happened
to be blue, an armadillo, and fishing. I then asked one of our
veterans to tell me a story about a blue armadillo who enjoyed fishing.
What Do You Expect From Your Club?
Based on idea from Patterns In Programming by
In order for our clubs to grow they need to meet our needs. In
to meet our needs, the club officers need to know what are needs
Have each person discuss what they want to get from Toastmasters and
the club can do to help them reach their goals.
Invite Your Neighbor
The first person invites the person next to them to a
meeting. Unlike most table topic ideas, this can be a
The person being invited can ask questions. As the topic
around the room, the person who was invited invites the person on the
side of them.
As part of the introduction, the topicmaster should explain that the
person doing the inviting should talk about the benefits of
to the potential guest.
Change the Timing
Does your club use the same timing every week for table topics?
experienced members become very good at hitting the window between the
green and red lights. If the time limits are changed, they
have to work much harder to come in on time.
Suggested by John Sleigh, DTM,
Have a collection of picture postcards available for
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
Now provide the next speaker with a picture post card
and ask her why she would like to visit that place. (Do this several
with a variety of cards.
Other applications for picture post cards (ask the
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?
Suggested by John Sleigh, DTM,
I guess as we get older the past seems to be more exciting just because
there is more of it, but there are some things that can only happen
and I would like you to recall some of the firsts in your life.
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
Suggested by John Sleigh, DTM,
Mix the questions, with the book titles (of course you can add your own
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],
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
Some Addtional Titles I found
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
Mary Pamber suggests using children's books like Little Red Riding
Little The Three Little Pigs, and Rudolph, the Red-Nosed
to ask the questions from the top of this section.
Topics for the Holidays
Suggested by Joy Gaylord, ATM
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
For the first round of table topics, they describe the gift without
what it is. Each person then chooses a gift. There is a
round of table topics with people explaining why they chose the
(Suggested by a member of District 7 at the District Conference.)
Tag Team Table Topics
Suggested by an audience member at a District 7
The topic is given to a pair of Toastmasters. One Toastmaster
The Topicmaster rings a bell part way though. The other
continues. When the Topicmaster rings the bell again, they switch
Suggested by an audience member at a District 7
The Topicmaster gives everyone a topic. S/he gives the first
a question. When that person finishes, s/he gives the next person
Suggested by Teri Hogenkamp from Johnson Creek Speakeasy
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
You just won $100 million on the lottery. What would you by
you have $1 million to give to just once charity. Which one
do you choose and why?
If you could acquire a talent/skill just by asking, what
would you ask for and why?
If you could relive one day without changing anything,
what day would it be?
You just won a trip to anywhere in the world for an
entire month. where would you go?
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.
We often do round robin evaluations for contestants going on to higher
contest levels. We also uses the format for members who are
giving a speech they will later repeat at work.
We often do these during table topics because they are impromptu
speaking and the round robin evaluations need a block of time.
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
perspective. I had copied the evaluation page from basic manual
and advanced manual
speech projects. I gave everyone a different page.
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."
Goldy Locks Trial
I've used Shelley's idea of a 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.
Egg Carton Table Topics
Suggested by Mary Palmer
I have idea for next time I am Topicmaster and that is to get an empty
egg carton and put recipes with eggs in each slot. I would then
have table topic participant draw question.
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.
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