Table Topics Session Recap

As someone whose job is all about public speaking, one thing I love about our club is that it’s a great place to experiment. I was able to take advantage of this when I served as Toastmaster on Feb. 1 and led a meeting that was dedicated to Table Topics. 

I had the club utilize the Zoom “Annotate” feature. You can use to allow attendees to mark up images with various tools. You can add specific shapes, draw lines, select different colors etc. I had been interested in how such tools could be used with a map to talk about our experiences with different places. 

I used Zoom’s screen sharing feature to display a map of San Francisco. Our Table Topics started with me picking a particular SF location and asking the speaker to give a hypothetical tour of the site. They were welcome to provide factual or fictitious information. At the end of each Table Topic, we then used Zoom’s poll feature to vote on whether we thought the speaker was telling the truth or not. 

Each Table Topic speaker then stated another SF location and called on another attendee to give their Table Topic following the same rules. In the course of the meeting, this is the marked up map of SF we created.

I think everyone who participated in the meeting enjoyed this. One of the challenges of presenting over Zoom is that it’s not very interactive. It’s hard to gauge how engaging audiences find your information. You generally don’t hear people laugh or otherwise react to what you’re saying. Using the Annotate and Poll features is a way to overcome this. More importantly, audiences seem to find them fun! 

I’ll repeat what I said at the meeting today (March 15): the club’s embrace of Zoom has been extremely valuable to me. If we had not done this early in the pandemic, I probably would have been less willing to try this with the material related to my tours. Thanks to all of you, I have stayed active and given 77 presentations with over 4,000 attendees since May 2020. I’m grateful to Townsend Toastmasters for this!

- Rodney Paul

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