Table Topics Evaluator

TIMING: 30 seconds per speaker
EDUCATIONAL MATERIALS: The Toastmaster Magazine


  • To assist Toastmasters to improve their impromptu speaking skills.
  • To provide useful feedback to the speaker and the meeting on the Table Topics responses.


  • As the evaluator of the impromptu speaking segment, you have only 30 seconds per speaker to present your evaluation.
  • Evaluations should be brief and to the point – restrict yourself to 2 or 3 points of praise and 1 or 2 aspects you consider could be improved.
  • Remember the method of effective evaluation – Praise, Improve, Praise.
  • Do not repeat the question, this wastes time.
  • Do not evaluate whether the content of the answer was right or wrong.
  • Concentrate on the physical appearance, posture, eye contact, voice modulation, voice clarity, gestures.
  • Was the answer a mini speech with an opening, body and close?
  • Were they very evident?
  • Was the question addressed?
  • Did the speaker use humour?


Read the assignment guide on Topics Master so you are familiar with how the session is run. Review any material you have on Effective Evaluations.


  • Obtain any special instructions from the Topics Master and, if possible, a list of the questions.
  • Make sure you are clear whether you are evaluating the Odd or Even numbered questions.
  • When called upon to give your evaluation:
    • Go to the lectern and acknowledge the Topics Master.
    • Commence your evaluation by naming the speaker. It is not necessary to repeat the question (this will only take up valuable evaluation time). Give a brief evaluation of the speakers allocated to you. Return control to the Topics Master.


Look and listen intently – and choose the points that will prove most useful to the speaker.
With an experienced/effective Table Topics Speaker it is often difficult to find more than one point for improvement so this is why it is necessary to employ all your listening and evaluating skills.

  • It may be useful to point out to the audience a feature that made the speech particularly effective, eg. the word picture, the construction.
  • Evaluations are for the benefit of the whole meeting and not just for the speaker.
  • If you say that one speaker had a pleasant smile and confident stance, these are characteristics we can all try to adopt when we next speak.
  • Similarly if you comment that eye contact was poor or that hand gestures would have enhanced the table topics answer, we can all consider how effective we are in these areas and seek to improve in our public speaking.
  • In this way each and every evaluation helps all of us improve.

As the evaluations are for everyone, address your comments to the meeting and not directly to the person (as in “you”), eg. Joan’s voice showed her enthusiasm for the subject and I could see from her natural hand gesture that Joan felt very comfortable answering this question.