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St George Toastmasters

Club No 70/2982


Table Topics Strategies

Developed by Dorothy Clarke,
St George Toastmasters Club, Sydney Australia

Is there an answer to that deliberately provocative question "Do you still beat your children?"

"Only at tennis, they beat me at Scrabble now," very effectively changes the subject from a suggestion that you would harm a child to one where you present yourself as a coach and a good sport.

In your Toastmasters club, in an interview or in a conversation a question can be quite unexpected. Is there a simple strategy for answering almost every question, or at least responding to the question in such a way that you do not surrender your poise, self confidence and control of the situation.

Well maybe there isn't a formula which will work in absolutely every situation, but practise of these strategies may help:

Each of these strategies can be used with almost any table topics question.

So practice one at a time, until you become fluent with them all - then you will be able to choose the one that suits best for a particular situation.

The text in bold print is a possible speech line. The other text is comments and advice:

Strategy Number 1

Point, reason, reason, reason, point



Argument for

Argument against

Two sides

You be the judge

I agree (disagree, dispute, am not sure) that basis of question.
  • First reason for agreement
  • Second reason for agreement
  • Third reason for agreement

As you can see, I have several good reasons for agreeing that ....

Strategy Number 2

Point, reason, example, outcome



My experience

What happened

What I would do next time

I agree that basis of question

I believe this because ...

I once heard of a case where ....

This lead to the situation where ....

So you can see why I believe that if you want to .... then you should ....

Strategy Number 3

Why What when where who how


Why is there a need?

How often does it happen?

Where is it felt?

Who has the problem? Solution?

How do they do it? How do we get in touch with them?

You may well wonder why anyone would ever ....(the what of the question)

Well, when you are faced with ...

Or One time I had to .....

Describe the setting (where it happened)

Describe any other people involved

Describe the way that the situation was resolved

Strategy Number 4

Past Present Future


Spring summer, fall, winter

Morning noon and night

In my grandfather's time, it was considered ....

Today, the matter is quite controversial (unusual, unconventional, strange, common) but I am sure that my grandchildren will ...

Picture if you will a turn of the century .... I see you smiling which cenrury was turning for you?

One last thought. Don't only answer your own assigned topic. Mentally answer other people's questions too, so that the strategies can be practised in a wide range of applications.

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