5 Tips For Your Next Table Topic Contest



After winning the 2017 Toastmasters District 97P's table topic contest, people asked me about how to perform better in Table Topics. I feel that it will be beneficial to share the insights generated from those discussion and the contest itself. While the tips that I share are by no means exhaustive, I hope that it will help you prepare better for your next table topic contest.

1. Repeat The Topic
This is a great tip that I've learnt from DTM Petra. There are two reasons why this important. By repeating the topic, you ensure that the audience have yet another clear imprint of the topic. The second reason for this is to enable you to have a few more seconds to think while appearing that you've already started to respond confidently. 

2. Power Posing
I've been practicing power posing from Amy Cuddy's TED talk every time before I go on the stage to compete. According to her, our posture affects our emotions just the same as our emotion affects our posture! This is why regardless of how you feel, posing in a powerful posture for three minutes will make you feel confident. Being confident very important in table topics because you'll need to be in a positive frame of mind to think on your feet. 

3. The Topic Might Not Be A Question
I still remember when I was competing at the club level. When the topic was given to me, I stupidly blurted out, "That wasn't a question!?". I'm not sure about other clubs but the table topics in my club are normally questions. While this piece of advice might seem trivial but if you are caught off guard in a competition, it might derail you.

4. Read & Listen A Lot
How do you prepare for table topics when you don't know what's going to be asked? You read a lot and listen to the experiences of other people. What you know works like a net. The closer the topic is to what you know the easier it is for you to pull existing stories out and relate to it. This is why it is important for you to read books on different topics and listen to varied experiences of other people. After that, summarizing it to your own words will help you recall and use it in the future. This is a long term practice that's worth doing.

5. Give It A Twist
Whenever the audience hear about a topic, there's a tendency of them thinking of it in a way or another. If you could twist that and then give it a deeper meaning or insight, then you've significantly improve your chances of winning. The topic given to me during my division contest was "The mask that we wear". Most people's line of thought will be something like we shouldn't wear the mask and we should be authentic. I went against this by stating that we need to wear a mask so that we can be social appropriate. We need to learn how to wear a mask so that we could effectively get our points across. With that said, we'll need to be careful not to loose ourselves behind this mask. The twist gave the point about we need to be authentic to ourselves more punch.

It goes without saying that apart from the five tips above, all of us should continuously participate in the table topics sessions in our club. That's the best practice that we have. Whenever a hard topic is given at the club, raise your hand and take the chance to practice. The more you do it, the better you will become. I hope to see you in the next competition. Joining a competition is one of the best ways to grow fast. 

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