Toastmasters Table Topics Contest Analysis

Over the last couple of weeks, I've reviewed the Toastmasters District 17 convention 2017 and also provided you with insights from some of District 17's most successful competitors.  Today I'm reviewing the Toastmasters Table Topics Contest that took place at the 2017 District 17 convention.

Read today's blog post to see the top three speeches in the Toastmasters Table Topics contest held at the Toastmasters District 17 convention 2017 and my thoughts on what they did well and where they can improve!


Toastmasters Table Topics Contest

Timing: 1 - 2 Minutes

Toastmasters Table Topics contestants have no prior knowledge of the topic they are to speak on before being introduced in the contest.

Question/Statement to be answered/discussed by contestants:

 "Please tell us about the first item on your bucket list."

  • 1st Place - Janette Edwards
  • 2nd Plance - Mike Palmer
  • 3rd Place - Jessica Breadsell

1st Place - Janette Edwards

Martin's Thoughts - What Did Janette Do Well?

Janette has had a lot of experience in the Toastmasters Table Topics contest, and it showed.  Janette was calm and collected and filled her response with a range of emotions. 

She opened in a manner that made her life seem full of fun and adventure with many items on her bucket list.  She used pauses well for dramatic effect before telling us what was at the top of her bucket list.

When she introduced the audience to her specific answer, her whole demeanour changed.  Her body language told us this was something she wanted to do.  Adrenaline seemed to be pumping through her body as she spoke which matched the bucket list item beautifully.

How Could Janette Improve?

It took Janette almost one minute before telling us the particular item that was top of her list.  For a 1 - 2 minute speech this is a risky strategy.  I believe her response would have been stronger if she had mentioned the item at the top of her bucket list earlier, giving her more time to explain why and expand on the stories.

What Was The Highlight?

The visual imagery and passion she conveyed for her bucket list item were powerful, giving the audience a strong sense that she has been seriously considering completing this bucket list item as soon as possible.

[Check out Janette's tips for Toastmasters competitors here.]

2nd Place - Mike Palmer

Martin's Thoughts - What Did Mike Do Well?

Mike wisely picked a response to the Toastmasters Table Topics contest question that all parents can relate to.  He knew his audience well, their age demographic and chose an answer that appealed to the average person in the room.

Mike used the stage extensively, had good strong body language and great vocal variety filling his speech with enthusiasm for his children and their progression through life.

Mike also included humour in his speech by questioning if it was possible for his children to graduate to manhood.  Even though there was a point when he pushed this a little far for the audience's taste, Mike picked up on this and quickly switched strategy to focus on the positives.  Changing direction shows, he has high audience awareness and is able to adapt quickly and successfully.

How Could Mike Improve?

At the start after shaking the Toastmasters' hand, Mike paced around nervously for a few seconds before grounding himself and going into his answer.  He would have looked more confident if he had stood in the middle, smiled and breathed before starting.

Mike's opening statement could have been stronger.  He stated that he had several bucket list items that were essential for him, but didn't say why they were essential, or what areas of his life were going to improve.

What Was The Highlight?

Mike had a firm conclusion, cleverly contrasting more popular bucket list options with his particular choice, allowing the audience to re-connect emotionally with the item at the top of his bucket list.

3rd Place - Jessica Breadsell

(Apologies for the recording of this Jessica's Toastmasters Table Topics contest speech. The videographer [me] had battery issues and missed the first minute of Jessica's response.)

Martin's Thoughts - What Did Jessica Do Well?

Jessica started Toastmasters Table Topics contest response strongly by miming that she was cold.  By doing this she created intrigue around her answer.  We wanted to know why and how it was relevant.

Jessica picked a bucket list item that was uncommon but laid out robust and believable arguments demonstrating why it was at the top of her bucket list.

How Could Jessica Improve?

The vocal variety and range of emotions that Jessica incorporated into her speech were there and would have been very appropriate for many audiences. However, when you compare these to how Janette and Mike, you can see that these are areas that could be improved to help express the passion she has for her bucket list item.

What Was The Highlight?

She gave her speech credibility by referring to her PhD, highlighted some of the major leanings from that and directly relating it to the topic and her choice of bucket list item.

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Martin J O'Connor

In 2015, Martin was the District 17 Toastmasters Table Topics Champion and came third in 2014. He was in the District 17 final of the Humorous competition in 2015 and is in the District 17 final of the Evaluation competition in 2017. He is very proud to be a founding member of Competitive Speakers Perth Toastmasters club.