How to Pick Table Topic Questions That Will Best Entertain Your Audience

How to Pick Table Topic Questions That Will Best Entertain Your Audience

Running an impromptu or a table topic session doesn’t have to be hard. If you pick good topics, people will most likely be willing to participate and learn a thing or two. If you don’t, the impromptu session will turn into a wasted opportunity for everybody. When I first run such session, I never thought much about what constitutes a good or a bad topic but over time, I realise I was wrong.

 

wrong Sadly for everything that has been written on this topic, most people pick their topics following one common rule: randomly. Picking a topic randomly does not provide the opportunity for people to learn and see the breadth of answers. For example, it’s hard to see how you should answer a question on “What’s your favourite coffee blend?” from another person who may get a question like, “How can we reduce child mortality?”. The content will be vastly different, and most likely the structure of the answer will be significantly different. 

 

 

 

A better alternative is to ask another person, “What’s the first tea you’ve ever tasted?”. The coffee and the tea questions set the speakers more evenly, and hopefully, everyone in the audience will be able to compare and contrast the two answers.

 

I think the best kind of impromptu topic is the one where the audience and the speaker, can learn from. The topic is relevant and interesting. It’s specifically designed to improve speaking skills, for example, in having a better structure or to practice handling the nerves.

 

The best impromptu session is, thus, the one that packages all of that in one practice session. Learning any skill happens through three steps: instruction, imitation and then practice. 

 

An impromptu session is a perfect fit for a mini-learning session. I have found that explaining a technique such as the bridging technique can fit nicely as a short instruction. For the imitation part, get a more experienced speaker who is familiar with the chosen technique to start first, then invite the rest to practice their impromptu speaking.

 

Image of learning To summarise, an impromptu session can be structured in the order below:

  1. Describe the session as an impromptu session and why it’s relevant to practice how to speak on your feet.
  2. Explain a technique that is recommended for answering the questions.
  3. Get a more experienced member of the audience to come up and give example.
  4. Open the floor for others to try.
  5. Point out and praise good usage of the technique.
  6. Encourage as many people as possible to come up on stage to speak.

If you’re wondering what other techniques there are, do read on because I’ve listed three techniques with sample questions to get you started.

 

 

PREP (Point, Reason, Example, Point)

First, try to practice following a structure such as PREP (Point, Reason, Example, Point). You can start with clearly stating a point of view that you support (or against) for the speech, then give a primary reason and examples to clarify the reason.

 

If you have more time, you can then move on to a supporting reason, followed by examples to elaborate on the second reason. When you want to summarise the speech, you can restate the first point again. Hearing the main point for the second time will make your speech coherent. I’ve listed below five questions to get you started brainstorming on this technique. Make people agree with the statements:

  • The fastest way to get rich is to be lazy.
  • Big is always beautiful.
  • Books are the best mentors.
  • Green is the new black.
  • Getting married are just for losers.

 

Ending with a summary

Another useful technique to practice on is to put emphasis in ending well. Most newbies started strong but don’t have time to think of the ending. To help change this, you can the speakers to practice ending with summaries and stop. stop   Ask the speakers to end their speeches with the sentences below.

  • And that’s why I always have coffee in my bag
  • And that’s why I like working on Sundays
  • And that’s why my friends envy me.
  • And that’s why I don’t like cake.
  • And that’s why my parents ask me to pay for the movies.

It’s surprisingly easier to work backward once you know where the goal is. Speakers would find it easier to fill the middle once they started on a tangent rather than figuring out the endings while speaking at the same time.

 

Bridging technique

Bridging technique can get a bad rap sometimes because many politicians abused it. The Art of Manliness states that the trick is to acknowledge the significance of the question, then look for “a logical pivot point towards what you think is the more important issue”. Five questions you can use in this exercise. These questions are designed to be difficult to answer truthfully, therefore the best way to answer these will be to bridge to another topic that is more familiar to the speaker. The words with potential pivot are bolded.

  • Tell me about how the healthcare system works in your country?
  • How can we stay immortal with freezing our body?
  • Please tell me how cancer can be cured?
  • What are the economics of producing food ecologically?
  • Can you please explain the science behind how a rocket works?

If it helps, show a video as an example. 

 

There you have it. Three simple techniques to enrich your impromptu sessions. If you think of other creative ways to run these impromptu table topic sessions, let us know!   Subscribe and share this post if you like it. Starting a new blog is hard and I need all the help that I can get!

 

This post was originally published on 6 Feb 2019, and was updated on 7 Feb 2019. 

 

 

Martha Winata

CEO & Co-founder of Get Sandwich

Martha coaches people presenting on startup pitches and science presentation grants. When she's not hard at work helping people present better, she can be found travelling around the globe and eating delicious delicacies.

New series of videos: TED Stalk!

New series of videos: TED Stalk!

Hello, Subs!

We have a new series of videos called TED Stalk! In it, we will analyze TED and TEDx talks together and talk about the best tips to become a better public speaker.

In this first one, we analyze the popular TED Talk Supasorn Suwajanakorn gave this year, 2018. The name of the talk is “Fake videos of real people — and how to spot them” and it talks about an extremely up-to-date theme, fake news. We analyze the content and delivery from a speaker coach point of view, so we are in no way analyzing if his content is factual or if it has an important point of view.

 

To watch the original video go to this link

Don’t forget to follow us on Instagram, Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn: @GetSandwich

Practice does not Make Perfect

Practice does not Make Perfect

Practice makes perfect. You may think this is part and parcel of the wisdom of the crowd, and whoever saying it to you is trying to help you. Reminding you that hard work counts, and that perfection is the goal.

But is perfection the reason for anyone practicing? Is that why you practice creating your signature cakes? Or reciting your presentations?

 

Perfection is subjective. The day is perfect. Whose day? Yours. The trip was perfect. Whose trip? Definitely not everybody’s. We don’t describe anything objectively using the word. Try this out: The research results are perfect. Sounds weird? Perfection is objectively unattainable.

In fact, focusing on perfection has led many to failures. The more you cognitively associate what you are doing with perfection, the more likely you will make mistakes. Even when practicing, too much focus on the details derails you from the bigger picture and can easily demotivate the whole process. If practice is all we need to get better, then why don’t everybody just practice for their own good?

Practice makes perfect. But then another voice in your head chimes in: “but no one is perfect therefore there is no need to practice. Yay!”

Wrong.

Practice makes progress. What can you say now to that?

It’s much more useful because it’s hard to refute and don’t let the nuance deceive you. A small change in wording leads to a massive shift in the mindset.

Small incremental progress, is the underrated sister of innovation. Similar to how the interest of your bank account works, progress compounds. It even has a name, called The Kaizen Effect. This blog post describes it well:

“Try to do just 1% better than the day before. Start small and make your increases gradual. Avoid the temptation to get impatient and start rushing forward and taking bigger leaps. Take it slow, steady, and consistent.”

Through this lens, doing 1% better is virtually the opposite of striving for perfection. It’s just a tad better, and that’s enough to practice just one more time. Practice that song for one more minute or run just 100 meters more. The act of practicing becomes that much easier. After all, you’re not striving for perfection, are you?

Aristotle, umm err actually, Will Durant famously said “We are what we repeatedly do. Excellence, then, is not an act but a habit.” You can choose to make a habit out of practice, and that’s enough. Some even go as far as saying, do your worst. And doing your worst does count for progress.

Progress leads to change and change leads to growth. Catch yourself desperately trying to attain perfection, and refocus your effort to simply create 1% progress for today.

So what are you waiting for?

 

 

 

New meat on the market: help us to unite and conquer

New meat on the market: help us to unite and conquer

This week we have 2 very important announcements for you. They relate both to our product and to our brand, so this means that it involves you – our beloved clients and enthusiasts.

The first one is that we have been looking for a name to call you, where “you” is a personality that we talk to especially in our social media. Since our (funny!) name is Get Sandwich relating to the sandwich technique, our team has come up with the name Sub. What do you think, Subs? Leave your thought in the comments and let us know if you like it or if you have a better idea.

The second one is a shout of happiness and a kind request. Get Sandwich is selected as a finalist in the Swedish National Finale of Nordic Startup Awards 2018 in the category Best Newcomer. Yeeey, amazing news! We are proud to be a part of this select batch of fine Nordic startups and thrilled of being inside this ecosystem.

There is a jury to determine the winner in each category, but the public voting counts as ONE jury member. Having the most votes can increase the chances to win and the public voting is now open. Run to this link and search for Sandwich. The public voting closes on August 22 at 16h CEST. We thank you in advance for your support!

Follow our social media channels* for more updates, news and interesting facts about the public speaking world and the sandwich features. If you would like to share don’t forget the hashtags #GetSandwich #NSAwards #NordicMade.

Have a juicy one!

*Instagram, Facebook, LinkedIn, and Twitter.

 

How to bore others

How to bore others

I don’t have so much experience in being an interesting speaker, but I am a black-belt in making people bored.

In the same way that speaking well is a skill, making people bored is also a skill. Have you thought of how to get away from those pesky neighbours saying “hey”?

Or maybe those colleagues who want to chit-chat, taking away your most productive hours in the morning?

I tell you the worst location I’ve been in where this skill is tremendously useful.

When I’m on a plane.

Let say the flight is ten hours from Stockholm to Singapore, and within the first five minutes of starting the long journey, just after I finish putting my socks on, then my slippers, then tuck myself under a blanket, relaxed my shoulder with a quick massage, about to put on my eyepatch and pop the sleeping pills to settle into a good sleep. The woman sitting next to me touched my shoulder. She grins at me with a hint of restlessness, then she asks “So you’re going to Singapore?”

I said, “Aren’t we all?”

 Tell me if you’ve been in these tricky situations before.

To get you out, here are three prescriptions on how to bore others.

My first advice is to talk about yourself. A lot. After all, why hold back. Tell her your origin story. How you were born. Tell her how your mother had read you Wonder Woman and Batman stories when you were still in her tummy, and that your father played Mozart on a loop for the last 3 months of the pregnancy.

Tell her your priorities in life. How much you demand comfort and enjoyment above all else. Explain to her why your bed sheets need to be ironed / everyday otherwise you will have nightmares for weeks.

Tell her how your kids, your biggest pride and joy follow your teachings and double down / on the quest to be spoiled brats. Your daughter is the living embodiment of Kim Kardashian and your son is the next Donald Trump. The world has been so unfair to you, for the sake of justice, your family shouldn’t have to go through hard-life.

The thing is you are better than everyone else. Tell her how people complain all the time about their lives but it’s really nothing in comparison to how much abuse you’ve gone through in the airport. How the baggage checking never understands your plight for speed and that you’re allergic to having your iPad touched by dirty, coarse hands.

For the second advice, you should ensure that you have a smug face. Do everything necessary to appear disengaged. Look at NOT the woman’s face but the ceiling, or the person next to her instead. Talk without acknowledging she ever exists. She started this conversation after all. It wasn’t you who wanted this.

When she appears to want to butt in, don’t give her that pause. Keep talking. Pause is only for people who want to be understood.

You don’t want that.

If you’re telling a story, like when you met the queen, change to a posh accent. “Oh, my dear, the queen has invited the family to the royal high-tea. Indeed, it is so delightful. Now… off we go.”

My final advice is to ignore all feedback. Ignore that little voice in your head that says, “You’re being an ass”.

When the woman gives you a full-blown yawn, just pretend / that she hasn’t slept well last night. She got too excited for the chance / to meet someone like you.

After you’ve followed my advice for 10 minutes, there should be one sign of success. Get ready to get your phone out / and take a picture of what you’re about to achieve. I will give you a certificate as a public recognition. The woman should be, completely asleep.

If she’s still awake, switch to plan B.

Excuse yourself to get a cup of water, secretly pull out the sleeping pills you almost took before. Drop them into the cup. Go back to your seat.

Tell her, “Hey, I thought you must be exhausted after hearing all of that.”

Don’t forget to smile.

This post first appeared as a speech delivered in Toastmasters in October 2017.

Focusing on how to search for interesting videos

Focusing on how to search for interesting videos

It is easy to get lost in the ocean of videos of public speaking presentations online. The search that stands out the most is for TED and TEDx talks and, even so, there is an endless supply of videos with the most varied topics, styles, length, etc. TED has been there since 1984 and TEDxs are spreading since 2009, which can give you a hint of the voluminous number of talks that have been filmed.

Watching these videos is a particularly nice way to not only a way of consuming content, but to learn and improve your public speaking skills as well. Learn by example. These are usually the best people in their field and are highly trained speakers. Public speaking is a skill you learn and train by practicing.

In this era of abundance, the hard part is how to find the best videos to learn from. There are many blog posts that compile outstanding presentations and they are a great way to learn. TED itself has this post with its “25 most popular talks of all time”, but we think there are more videos you should see.

We will drop from time to time a few lists with presentations that we at Get Sandwich think are valuable for you. For starters, we had people in our sandwich team reveal their favorites! Here are the favorite TED talks of our members.

 

Martha

Let’s start with our CEO! Martha’s favorite TED talk is from 2017 and is about great ideas and where they come from. How to find a wonderful idea is a presentation from the music group OK Go, known for their elaborate music videos, on their creative process to come up with the ideas for them, with wonders and surprises. They actually say that their ideas are not thought, but rather found. Martha says, “It uses everything it can to make a talk a performance. I re-watch it every few months (I’m re-watching it now…)”

 

Grant

Part of our advisory board, Grant works as a coach, for which he regularly looks for insights. The talk he chooses is Richard St. John’s 8 Secrets of Success, from 2005, which delivers years of research on how and why people are successful. Grant loves it “because it’s super short and in less than 4 minutes he tells 8 secrets of success based on research and interviews. It’s simple, funny, powerful, informative and memorable.” One of Grant’s favorite secrets revealed by St John is about Persistence, in which he talks about dealing with “CRAP = Criticism. Rejection. Assholes. Pressure”!


 

Marcela

That’s yours truly, from marketing! My favorite TED talk was actually in the 2012 TEDx Euston, by Chimamanda Ngozie Adichie, called We should all be feminists. This woman inspires me every day with her strength, honesty, and willingness to change the world. She mostly reads her speeches, and that could make her delivery dull, but, since she is a very good novelist, the content and the way she builds the narrative are amazing. With personal tales filled with extremes of emotions, Adichie invites us to see the importance of conversations about gender to think of a different and fairer world.

 

 

Min’an

Min’an is our CTO. He also chooses a TEDx talk, The happy secret to better work by Shawn Achor in 2011 at Bloomington, and says “Of all the Ted talks I’ve watched this one still sticks.” Achor is a psychologist who studies how happiness, or the lack of it, impacts our lives, especially our productivity. Min’an admires this presentation because Achor “is energetic throughout, packs so much information in, weaves humor as part of the message and manages to paint a lasting picture with vivid examples/illustrations!”

 

 

So, do you like any of this talks? Have you seen them before? Do you have a favorite one? Do you know which are the characteristics the attract you the most in your favorite talk? Is it style? Content?

Make a plan. Refine and focus your search. Study the talks you watch and understand why you like/dislike them. This way you can expand your learning experience and improve.