Speaking-off-the-cuff. Mindset-Structure-Delivery. Blog Post by Dr Kinnar Shah

Every toastmasters meeting is always spiced up by more than a fifth of a meeting dedicated to impromptu speaking in a section called Table Topics. The Topicsmaster gives a brief description of the purpose of Table Topics and mentions if the topics will carry a theme.

This is a great moment to shine in the meeting. At least for 2 minutes!

Yes, anxiety levels can certainly be witnessed however, the opportunity to organise your thoughts quickly and respond to an impromptu question or topic is well worth being called upon …randomly!

I’ve been a toastmaster for less than 3 months and I’ve managed to attend four meetings, out of which I’ve been selected twice for a Table Topic. Last meetings theme was “Dodging bullets” and I certainly didn’t do that, being called upon to speak on “Abacus”. Having not much knowledge on it, I rambled on. This has led me to search for a way to make this process easier and exciting.

I decided to study how to speak off-the-cuff. In a structured way while having fun at it.


  1. Smile
  2. Avoid apologies (comments like “I’m not good at this” or “I don’t have a clue” )
  3. You could buy a bit more time (repeat the question or topic, however don’t abuse this step)
  4. Create and master an archive of topics (Get in the practice of reading anecdotal short stories. Learn some one sentence quotations, snippets of wisdom. Keep up with current events in the media)
  5. Know the Method of structure ( Premise + 2 Points; Premise- the one sentence that summarizes your point of view. 2 Points – you will use to support, expand on and explain your premise)
  6. Identify the structure you want to use (common ones being: Chronological- past,present,future; Sequential- 1st/2nd/3rd; Cause and Effect; Problem and Situation; Hierarchical- top,middle,bottom; Increasing detail- general to specific; Priority- critical,important,optional) PS- often the table topics question already suggests a structure
  7. Deliver with charm (Get into a positive mental state. Be passionate – use eye contact and meaningful gestures. Use pauses and deeper breaths to help you maintain calm. Humour is always good)
  8. Have Fun (relax and enjoy knowing that the worst thing that could happen is you don’t win an award!)

Go On – Win that Impromptu Battle. Unleash your Tongue!


About melaniesuzannewilson

Melanie Suzanne Wilson is a communications consultant and content creator. She manages blogs and web sites about fashion news, public relations, journalism, marketing, social media and graphic design. Melanie's Web Sites: melaniesuzannewilson.com: Complete biographical web site. Shake Up Your Style: Creative fashion style and maintenance advice. What Mel Knows: Communications industry techniques and insight. What Mel Wants - personal blog about family and life.
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