toastmasters – a different table topics

When I was an area governor, one of my clubs complained that meetings weren’t fun enough. I tried a few things including some different formats for table topics to mix things up. One of them resulted in a lot of laughter. I’ve done it twice since at my own club.

The approach

I wrote sets of five words on a piece of paper. I tried to pick words that had nothing to do with each other. I also tried to pick a word or name that meant something to the club to create a shared reference. For example, suppose the President of the club was named Bob and the words were:

  1. elephant
  2. Kansas
  3. necktie
  4. sofa
  5. Bob

I then had people get up in pairs. The first person was told to speak for 60-90 seconds telling a story that uses those five words. Then the other person had 30-60 seconds to “agree” and support the story as if they were there. For example, suppose the first person said they saw an elephant wearing a necktie. The second person could say that he ran into the first person at the zoo, saw the elephant and couldn’t believe it.

Why it works

Putting together random words into a story tends to be funny whether the speaker is funny or not. Sticking in the shared experience (person’s name, company specific info, etc) makes people laugh as well. It preserves the spirit of speaking impromptu. It also creates a faster rhythm.

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