Every day, we engage in impromptu speaking. In daily conversations, we speak off-the-cuff. At Toastmasters meetings, almost every club includes a Table Topics segment. Some clubs also include improv exercises to help speakers hone their spontaneous speaking skills. Impromptu Speaking and Table Topics are powerful tools for your growth as a speaker.
- When asked for your opinion, or a summary of a task at work, we are sometimes required to speak extemporaneously. Table Topics hones your skills at creating an impromptu response that is laser-focused, compelling and engaging. It is a skill that requires practice. With practice, you can become a natural, as you make it part of your everyday communication. With practice, you will become adept at speaking on your feet without excessive umm’s, ah’s and you-knows.
- Your primary goal when speaking extemporaneously should be to communicate effectively. Good communication begins with good listening. In Table Topics, you are asked a question or, you are required to comment on a statement. As you listen silently to the topic, you should do a quick analysis. You should be able to quickly answer in your head if you are faced with a question or statement, for which you must share your opinion.
- Next, a good strategy is to repeat or paraphrase the question out loud to your audience. This will buy you some time to gather your thoughts. Get your body language involved. Face your audience with confidence. Beginning your response, a smile is always a good start. Focus on your audience and your audience’s attention will be focused on you as you prepare to make what will be the most important statement you will make to that audience.
- You must answer the question or state your opinion with confidence. You must also follow up your statement with an example, tell a story to make your point. Try to be unique. Add a twist to the subject. Turn it upside down. Take the road less traveled. If your topic requires you to state the pros vs cons, find a balance and try to read your audience’s reactions as you state your position.
- Finally, you should summarize your main points or position to remind your audience of your answer to the topic. Remember communication is not what you said, it is what your audience think you said. Don’t leave your audience with any unanswered questions in your response. Be clear, be direct be engaging and remember your last words will remain with your audience even after you have left the platform. Choose your last words wisely.