Being the table topics master for the first time!

Denise Tham
3 min readAug 24, 2021



Have you been a Table Topics Master recently? What was it like?

I joined the Money & You Toastmaster KL Club! I was super excited to be invited to be the Table Topics Master for the meeting! It was my second meeting as a club member 😄 and it is my first time being the TTM ever!

How does table topics segment work during a Toastmaster meeting? The Table Topics Master hosts the segment by presenting 7 to 8 question numbers (aka topics). These questions are related to the Toastmaster meeting theme and the word of the day. I, as the Table Topics Master (TTM), invites a volunteer or a nominated speaker to respond to the first topic. The speaker then picks a question number then the question is revealed! The speaker then responds with a speech between 1 to 2 min.

Why do we use table topics? Table topics are designed to develop four essential communication skills: Listening, Thinking, Organising and Speaking, to effectively “think on our feet”. We do this via responding to unrehearsed questions with the table topics segment.

The theme is Independence Day, riding on the coming celebration of 🇲🇾 Malaysian Independence Day on 31 Aug!

When preparing the questions, I aimed for these elements:

🌱 fun topics that are rarely in our media or casual chat: the key here is let your mind wander to create compelling questions!

🌱 bright colours on the slides to grab attention — I focus on using only the colours of the Malaysian flag (red, blue, yellow and white)

🌱 high text readability to help the speaker to read the question

🌱 help ease speakers’ response by preparing questions that are generic enough while staying relevant to the theme. Overly cultural or historical centric questions make it too narrow for a response.

I also practised how I would share my slides via zoom then unshare at the right timing so that the focus is on the speaker when one is responding. I had tons of fun preparing and presenting with Canva!

I got some solid advice when it came to the evaluation of how I did!

👉🏽 Repeat the questions so that participants get a chance to consider their response to the topic

👉🏽 Find a way to display the remaining question numbers that have not been picked yet — this helps the following speaker a lot! For example, once question 1, 3, 4 have been responded, then state clearly to the following speaker can now pick question 2 then 5 to 8.

To be honest, I was very sure that I would decline the invitation to be a TTM — my brain was filled with “Oh NO!” with flashing red lights 😂 Then after a few seconds of letting the chatter come, another side of me said: Why not? Let’s get into it!

I said yes purely to find out the gems I would find — the lessons to understand myself and most of all, have fun and get a good laugh! Imagine I nearly declined the invitation 😄

Do check out the slide deck here. 👋 Could you give some advice for future table topics session?



Denise Tham

The quality, not the longevity, of one's life is what is important.