Tongue tied table topics

Re-Furbished Table Topics

Impromptu speaking Table Topic approach for guests

We were planning an open night at Northampton Speakers and about a Year ago I came across Rick Furbish who has practically optimized the start-up meeting. I remembered he developed an approach to Table topics that helped encourage new comers to stand-up and speak

Table topics are the opportunity to get up and speak for 1-2mins on a topic that you have not prepared. It gives members speaking opportunities that have not been pre-booked. It help practice real world skills where you are suddenly expected to speak and give a good message if say the boos comes along unexpectedly with a key client, etc.

Normally, table topics are completely random scenarios and questions that sent the mind reeling in the scramble for a convincing response. The Rick Furbish approach is different.

  1. As guests arrive get to know then and invite them to put one surprising fact about themselves onto a piece of paper and drop it folded up into a bucket.
  2. Invite some of the newer club members to do the same.
  3. During the Table Topics explain the approach you are taking and then draw the first one out at random and read it out.
  4. The owner will identify it as them and be able to stand-up and talk about themselves for a minute or so.
  5. When they finish invite them to randomly draw out the next piece of paper.

The advantages of this approach is it helps guests form part of the meeting and in a way that puts them in their comfort zone and helps the other club members get to know them better. It should help the guests bond with the club and feel included and confident.


The approach worked at Cranfield Speakers on the 13th April 2016 and at Northampton Speakers on the 18th April 2016 (Open Night)

It worked and went down well. Guests seemed to enjoy the chance to speak and won at the topics session. Many speakers used up their time and even ran over a little. Time will tell if it helps guests join, but it was certainly worth trailing.

Some off the topics

  • Running a marathon -tired legs
  • Running a marathon – orange hot pants
  • Free cycling -collecting a garage full of toys for shipping to children India
  • Arriving a Cranfield to do an MSc and feeling homesick
  • Learning how to do 5 hours yoga a day before a trip to an Indian monastery
  • Competing on a game-show
  • A Hong Kong move director -Wong Kar-wai
  • I was born in the same town as a Britain’s Got Talent winner.


Two video clips of Rick Furbish expounding his approach to start up meetings


Print Friendly, PDF & Email