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Thanks to everyone that contributed to our interactive meeting on May 10th. The theme of the day was “Holidays,” and we all learned quite a bit about international celebrations. Brenda served as our Toastmaster and Lorri delivered an educational prepared speech that covered various types of leadership. Rehana stumped us with Table Topics questions that guided us around the world. We heard about Cinco de Mayo, Diwali, Eid, and Oktoberfest.

Rehana also brought up some more obscure festivities. Did you know that in the Philippines, New Year’s is celebrated with polka dots, circles, and coins, all of which represent good luck and riches? In Finland, there is a fortune-telling holiday where metal is melted and subsequently poured into a bucket of snow or ice-cold water. After the metal solidifies, the shape is held up to a light. The shadow cast by the metal chunk is representative of one’s fortune. Fascinating! Thanks to Rehana for the thought-provoking questions, and thanks to everyone that participated in answering!

diwali

While Saturday’s Table Topics answers were well-crafted and humorous, many Toastmasters fear this section of the meeting even more than the prepared speeches. At least with the speeches, we can think of something to say in advance and bring our notes! But with the Table Topics, we are asked to think on our feet, be organized, funny, and entertaining – all with just seconds’ notice!

So how can we feel better prepared to conquer the dreaded impromptu speech? Here are some tips:

– We can always buy time by pausing, taking a breath, and then thanking the Table Topics Master and audience. After this, we can simply begin by restating the question as a statement. This serves as a good introduction to the mini-speech.

– We can buy ourselves even more time by discussing what makes answering the question difficult. We can describe the delicacy of the hypothetical situation, or talk about how we imagine the scene would look.

– We can talk about what we know. If the question posed is about an unfamiliar topic, we can transition into something we are more comfortable with.

– We can make the answer up. If someone is asked about his children and he does not have any kids, he can use his imagination and describe his fictional children. He can be completely outrageous and unrealistic! Sometimes these crazy answers are the most humorous.

– We can remember our organizational skills learned from the prepared speeches. Table Topics answers, though impromptu, should still have an introduction, body, and conclusion. At the end, reiterate the question and main idea.

– We can be enthusiastic! Even the most boring and trite questions can be answered creatively and with emotion. Adding passion and feeling to Table Topics answers brings the audience in.

– Most importantly:

have fun

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