Table Topics Master

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This week, I was acting as Table Topics Master for the first time.

It didn’t go too well…

In fact, I started off badly and continued in the same vein.

As Table Topics Master, it was my job to choose the topics (short, impromptu speeches) and then pick the club members they should be assigned to.

Beforehand, I had picked 6 topics based on the theme of “New Year’s Resolutions”, and printed these out on little bits of paper so that each speaker could choose.

The first mistake I made was in not identifying my targets well beforehand. At Toastmasters, there’s a rule that you should not pick someone who is
 performing another role that evening. The first person I picked was Muryel – who was already evaluating for someone else. I was in such a panic, choosing people at the last minute, that I missed this completely.

She correctly pointed this out right away – and I’m afraid this made me somewhat nervous for the rest of it.

Somehow, I fumbled through till, at the end of the session (all speakers having been called), I completely messed up the summary. I should have announced that now was the time to vote for best Table Topics Speaker, and summarised what each had said. Unfortunately, I had completely forgotten who had spoken on which topic!

What could I say?

It was only good fortune which saved me – Norman had written this down, and called out the details for me.

In summing up my performance at the end of the night, Club President Mireia gave me a few useful pointers. Apparently, I’d apologised for my performance throughout (I was nervous!) – and this wasn’t necessary. I’d also apologised for picking on certain of the club members when I really ought to have congratulated them. We don’t want to give the guests and new members the impression this is some dreadful punishment!

But I’ve learnt my lesson. The next time I am called to perform this particular duty I will prepare 2 lists:

  1. A list of all the club members, so I can identify the ones I cannot choose (i.e. those performing roles) at the start, by scoring them out.
  2. A list of all the topics I have prepared – so I can write the name of the speaker against each one.

That should make it easier to choose appropriate candidates – and easier for me to provide a clear summary at the end.

If I do this in future, it will certainly be less nerve-racking!

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