Need to spice up Table Topics? I Suggest a Haiku

USAF photo by Master Sgt Christian Michael Buckley AFBIf you’re looking for a way to spice up your Toastmasters meeting, why not come up with a creative way to lead a familiar club activity.

One Toastmasters activity that lends itself to creativity is Table Topics, the part of your meeting where members are given the chance to speak extemporaneously about a variety of topics. Last month, members of Challenger Toastmasters, which meets in Arlington, Va., did just that.

I served as Table Topics Master, and instead of asking members about their favorite season, each Toastmaster reached into a plastic bag and randomly pulled out a haiku I wrote. A haiku is a special type of poem with 17 syllables. The first line of a haiku has five syllables, the second line has seven syllables and the third line has a five syllables.

For example, one Toastmaster pulled the following haiku from the plastic bag:

Mice like mini golf
Because they are too short to
Compete in pole vault.

After reviewing the haiku and reading it aloud to other members, the member used the Table Topic to relate the poem to dynamic leadership, which just so happened to be the theme of the meeting.

“You should figure out what you can do well,” the Toastmaster said. “Dynamic leadership takes tools to overcome obstacles.”

Another haiku tested a member’s ability to speculate whether the CIA could find any good men in Utah.

Christina Brady, president of Challenger Toastmasters of Arlington noted that she encourages members to come up with creative ways to make meetings more interesting.

“Here at Challenger Toastmasters, we are always looking for opportunities for Table Topics to be creative and to provide opportunities for members to practice their storytelling skills, which has led to some interesting and fun Table Topics,” Brady said.

Haikus are not your only option for creative Table Topics sessions. Other possibilities include providing members with headlines from newspapers. Another is to ask Toastmasters to pull a toy out of a bag and talk about it. Both strategies have made for interesting and humorous tools to expand our extemporaneous speaking skills.

Jay Krasnow is the District 27 Public Relations Manager and a member of Challenger Toastmasters, which meets at Asahi Restaurant in Courthouse Plaza, 2500 Clarendon Boulevard, Suite G, Arlington, Va., at 7 p.m. on the first and third Tuesday of the month.

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