Toastmasters – Table Topics Contest

I belong to Columbia Center Toastmaster’s club, which meets every Saturday from 9 to 10:30am at Rose City Methodist Church (NE 51st and Sandy).  Well today was a special meeting…it was our Fall Humorous Speech Contest Day!  Most Toastmaster Clubs has 2 contests throughout the year and each contest has 2 parts.  The first contest is in Spring, 1st part is a speech contest and 2nd part is an evaluation contest (where one person gives a speech and then people who wish can evaluate and the best evaluation wins).  In the Fall, the speech contest has a humorous theme to it, and the second part is a table topics contest.  Table topics in toastmaster speak, is another name for impromptu speaking!  In other words, one is asked a question and you must talk about it for up to 2 minutes.

There were 4 contestants at both the speech contest and our table topics contest.  Before the meeting, the contestants went to a room and informed of the rules, then we had to choose a piece of paper which had numbers on it…this determined the order of who would go give the speeches.  I choose number 3 so there were 2 others that gave their speech ahead of me.  As I was waiting for my turn, I was thinking of advice I heard, just make sure you have a beginning and end…you’ll be able to speak of the middle while speaking.  My turn came up, and then I was welcomed to the podium.  Our toastmaster gave a quote Great many people think that they are thinking, when they are merely rearranging their prejudices” by William James.

As soon as I was given the quote, I thought hmmm….should I speak of my own opinion or try to explain what William James meant.  I really didn’t know who William James was so I could have guessed…but then could I really speak for 2 minutes on that topic.  I ended up using my experiences as a HR Manager, mentioning first what a prejudice is, then how I try to NOT be prejudice in my job.  I gave examples from recruiting, not knowing a person’s name on a resume by folding the name part back before I read the body, would prevent me from knowing if that person is a male or female, which would bring in unconscious prejudice.   I also mentioned that we all make subconscious decisions and one needs to try not to make these as to affect one’s bias.  But wouldn’t you know it…I forgot to mention the my conclusion in a strong, upbeat tone that today, our thinking is less prejudice and more from the heart.

While I had “fun”, our club has many experienced members, that are a great inspiration to me…I did not come in first or 2nd place (our toastmaster club only gives out awards to the 1st & 2nd place winners), but will try again in the Spring.  A video of me giving the speech can be found here.


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