Table Topics Strategies: How to create a speech in 5 seconds

picture_framesRecently, one of the people I have been mentoring asked me to prepare for their first Table Topics.  They asked what I did to become more comfortable with Table Topics and I shared some strategies that have helped me become more comfortable both at the club and in the boardroom.  Here’s the e-mail I sent.  If you have any strategies of your own, please share them for the good and benefit of the club.

Dear Fellow Toastmaster,

I’m really pleased to hear you are practicing for table topics.  I find table topics very challenging because I have a strong preference for control.  Table topics does not offer a lot of control, which I guess is how life really is.

However, I have developed some strategies that are useful for table topics that I call frameworks.  Frameworks allow you to place any type of content into a frame so it has some logical organization.  This helps reduce the thinking needed to plan what to say and helps increase confidence.

Here are some of the frameworks:

– Past, present future
– Why, what, how
– Situation, action, result
– Accomplishments, obstacles, next actions
– I believed this before, but I don’t think that way anymore because
– What I like and don’t like about this
– Dreamer, realist, critic

If you apply the frameworks to any topic, you can quickly communicate for 1 to 3 minutes about that topic without having to give much thought.

For example, using past, present and future if someone were to ask me what I think about grass (lawn grass) I could say:

In the past, I hated grass because my Mother made me mow a huge front lawn every week.
Presently, I watch the people I pay mow the grass for me, and enjoy the fact that I’m not mowing it.
In the future, I look forward to lying in the grass and enjoying the sun while not caring if it is mowed or not.

I just typed in quickly what came to mind because I used the past, present, future framework.

Give it a try.  Just select some random words or subjects.  Write them in index cards and then select (or have someone else select) a random card.  Then practice using some of the frameworks and see how it works for you.

Again, thanks for your support and I’ll talk to you soon.

Kind regards,


14 thoughts on “Table Topics Strategies: How to create a speech in 5 seconds

  1. This is excellent advice! I’m in my first year with Toastmasters and I’ll be using this valuable info as a table topics contestant in our chapter contest tonight.

  2. Thank you so much for your article. I too am brand new at Toastmasters and fear the table topics. I love your frameworks especially the past present future example. Would you be willing to reply to me with an example of each of your frameworks? I would be extremely grateful to you if you would. This is going to help me tremendously and make such a huge difference in my life. Thank you and kind regards. Debra

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