As the Master Tabletopics speaker you are responsible for developing the questions beforehand. Here are some things to remember about how we like our Tabletopics Master to manage this portion of our meetings:
- Align your questions with the meeting theme.
- Arrive early and “sell” tabletopics to all guests. Your goal is to get them to participate. If they really look like they will have a heart attack then don’t call on them.
- Create more questions than you will need.
- Agree with the Master Toastmaster to signal you about how many more speakers you can call on or which one is the last one. Keep a good eye-contact with the Master Toastmaster.
- Prioritize speakers by non-speaking participants FIRST. The second objective of TableTopics is to give everyone a chance to speak; which means people who don’t have any speaking role are called first, and if attendance is poor, smaller roles e.g. Timer are called before bigger roles e.g. prepared speaker or General Evaluator.
- Keep your opening explanation (the one that sets up the questions you are about to deliver) to under two minutes, a minute being ideal. In your opening explanation remind everyone that they must speak for until they see the green card (one minute) to be eligible for the best speaker vote. As the tabletopics master you are only required to set the stage for the questions to follow and to remind everyone to be on their toes. After your brief introduction to the theme you are to get everyone to “Listen up, because here it comes.”
- Don’t baby your speakers. The idea of Tabletopics is to help speakers practice being called upon on a moment’s notice, in other words speaking when they are unprepared to do so. DO NOT REPEAT your question unless you asked to do so by the speaker. Your opening should have everyone on the edge of their seats as it’s their only defense to being called.
- When a speaker asks you to repeat, just do so.
- Avoid long setups for your questions. While passing things around and having a process of selecting the next tabletopics speaker are cute, they must be done quickly otherwise they slow the session down. The best tabletopics are when the questions are quick, easy to understand and delivered in rapid fire. Keep the session moving.
- Manage your session so that most of the speaking is done by speakers NOT you.
- Be alert for early endings. New members and guests may want to end their speech quickly because they are nervous. If a speaker ends too soon, remind everyone about the purpose of the timer and have them look out for the green card and red cards.
- For large meetings, call upon speakers who do not already have a speaking role.
- Always call upon members without a speaking role first.
- Get the names of attending guests before the meeting. “You there in the blue shirt” is not professional.
- Take note of the names (in sequence) to give to the Master Toastmaster so s/he can conduct the voting by calling their names for the general audience.
Click here to read TI’s Tabletopics explanation.