You have no idea what’s gonna come out. You go to the front, take a random pick, look what’s written on it, face the audience and there you go! Two minutes – TALK!
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That’s how it is; the Table Topic session in every Toastmasters meeting. Scary as it sounds? Of courseee… It’s an impromptu speech, okay. You’re not prepared with anything. Like I said, it’s killing!
This is usually the first agenda of the meeting and knowing this, the moment I entered the meeting room, I would get butterflies in my tummy. It is volunteer-based but sometimes when there’s really nobody wanna raise their hands; the Table Topic Master will just point to anybody and if it’s YOUUUUUU. Hahhh…. Gotcha! Hahaha
That extreme feeling is usually for a first-timer. The more frequent you do this; you won’t actually have that stage-fright as bad as your first time. I can vouch this because that’s what I experienced too. I’m still scared now and still not very confident but I believe, I’m better now in that nervous department comparing to the early days.
So what’s so scary about it actually? Honestly to me, the most nerve-wracking part is that if I don’t understand the thing at all. I mean, if the vocab written has never been in my diction, how?? My God! What do I do thennn? Because the format can be vary. Sometimes it can be like a question for us to answer, sometimes a picture of something, it can also be a collection of idioms. Yea, idiom is tricky. It’d be funny if the thing is well-known by everyone but you. Huwarrr… Luckily this has never happened to me so far. Please don’tttt…!!
Most times, things sound much worse than they actually are. Now, what’s not scary about impromptu speech? Actually they say; you can talk about anything! Anything at all. Yes, there’s no rule on the content of your speech. If you don’t understand it fully or you just have no idea to talk about that particular topic, we can just divert the topic to anything related, anything on our mind.
For example, your pick goes like this –
Malaysia has reached 60 years of independence. What do you think makes Malaysia an independent country?
Urghhh…Suddenly you gotta be historical and factual. Worse if you’re not a patriotic citizen. Hahaha. So, what can you do? You can actually divert the topic but still related to the word “independence”. Why not talk about yourself as an independent person! Talking about yourself is the easiest thing you can do and in fact, it’s quite impactful. I mean, pick a strong point about yourself that you can share with the audience and believed, many can relate personally.
You can start like this –
“Yes, Malaysia is an independent country we all know but the question is, are we all independent enough? Like me, ……”
There you go with bla bla bla. Make sense?
And that’s what actually Table Topic is. It’s not really formal and the evaluation won’t be so critical. The whole purpose is to urgeeee to you take the challenge and just do it! And after all, it’s only two minutes guys! Two minutes is fast, trust me. After you have passed the challenge – well done or not so well done – I tell you, you will have this feeling of accomplishment that you did it!
Have you ever heard this –
“We more often regret those things which we do not do than those which we do.”
This is true enough to me. Every time when the Table Topic session was running, I must have these contemplating feelings playing on my mind –
“Should I?…. Should not?”
“This time?….. Next time?”
And while I was still fighting my fear alone in my seat; the session ended, six people have taken their shots and all the picks have been revealed. And me?? Left behind with a little regret cause I’ve been defeated by my coward self! Loooooooser!!
Ahhh…. I believe each of us has our own bucket list of things that we’ve been considering to do in life. We contemplate every day, we contemplate for years. Let’s not waste time. As long as it won’t compromise our faith and religion, do give ourselves a try because know that we have nothing to lose. Have your purpose, know why you do what you gotta do, and GO!
As for this speaking thingy, this is still my current constant battle that I’m struggling to overcome but now I know that above all, impromptu speech is NOT killing at all.
If you’d like to know the kind of topics that we have in our Toastmasters meetings, click here.
Till the next post,