Table Topics Evaluator


  • Limit your observation to three points maximum

  • Give one commendation and one recommendation

  • Keep it short, sharp and sweet!

  • Have record cards ready as you’ll be taking notes

We all need people who will give us feedback. That’s how we improve.”

Bill Gates

Table topics evaluation are very useful to enable table topics speakers to improve their impromptu speaking skills.

The role is somewhat similar to being a speech evaluator, with the added twist that you’re evaluating multiple speakers in a very short space of time. Open your eyes and ears to what happens on stage during the table topics section and don’t get distracted by the speeches themselves.


During the meeting

The number of table topics speakers in a given meeting varies between 5 and 10 people. The amount of time at your disposal to evaluate these speakers will be between 4 and 5 minutes only.

Before the session starts, sit somewhere where you’ll have a clear view of the stage and of all the speakers.

The criteria for evaluating speakers are the same as for evaluating a prepared speech. However pay particular attention to the following:

  • Keeping to topic – It can be common for speakers not to answer the table topic question or to lead it to a completely different direction. This is perfectly fine as long as it makes sense.

  • Speech Structure – Just like for a prepared speech, structure matters when doing a table topic. Having a discernible introduction, body and conclusion makes a table topic far more effective.

  • Flow of the speech – Does the delivery flows logically from one part of the speech to another. A table topic jumping from subject to subject is far less effective or memorable than one with a clear direction.

Delivering your evaluations

Just like for a speech evaluation the same guidelines apply. Since guests may have been doing a table topic, be extra encouraging if they were nervous as what they’ve done may have been a huge step for them. Additionally don’t forget the following:

  • Keep it brief – You only have between 30s and 40s per speaker or about 70 words so make every word count.

  • Be specific – All of your comments must be specific regarding both content and delivery of the table topic e.g. “I liked the way you use your hands to express the number of possible solutions to this dilemma”

  • Generalise if possible – If several speakers did the same thing like clasping their hands. Mention it, illustrate it and explain the importance of having an open body language.

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