Table Topics -- Protocol for Meetings
Table Topics –
One of the objects of Table Topics is to provide practice in thinking on your feet: giving a coherent, fluent response to a question without opportunity for preparation or rehearsal.
The other is to provide opportunity for every member to contribute to every meeting: after all the speaking slots and meeting roles are filled, Table Topics should be directed first at any member who isn’t on the agenda and hasn’t spoken.
Asking for volunteers for Table Topics counteracts both of those objectives. The Topicsmaster should survey the room for members who are not on the agenda, and make note of them before being introduced, so s/he is ready to call on speakers without undue delay. Guests should be invited to volunteer only after any member not on the agenda has participated.
If the Toastmaster has announced a theme for the meeting, the Topicsmaster can build on it, use it as a starting point for questions, or select something completely different. The topic should not require detailed knowledge, and should lead to an opinion or conclusion.
The lectern, or the “stage” if there is no lectern, should always have someone “in charge” of the room. The presiding officer starts the meeting and hands off control to the Invocator, who returns control to the presiding officer, who then passes control to the Toastmaster. The Toastmaster introduces the first speaker, who speaks and passes control back to the Toastmaster; and so on. At each transition, the person in control announces the next speaker, waits for him/her to arrive and shakes hands before leaving.