Toastmasters – Table Topics on “Inspiration”

Fellow Toastmasters, before we jump into table topics, I wanted to briefly describe my role today, and how table topics will flow: 

– over the next few minutes, I’m going to pose a series of questions to you the audience on the theme of today’s meeting — “Excelling at your Internship” and specifically a critical element in finding the motivation and energy to succeed in your internship — that critical element is ‘inspiration’. 

– I’ll “randomly” call on members of the audience to come up to answer the question I’ve posed, and that person will be asked to take 1 to 2 minutes to speak. At the 1 minute mark you’ll see a green card, and after that a yellow card indicating you’re near time, and a red one to let you know you’re over time.

-last thing– to take the anxiety out of how this may sound to the new folks in the audience, I want to give one critical tip: if you are completely drawing a blank, you don’t REALLY have to answer the question. No one is going to grade you, and there is no prize that you will lose out on for changing topics. So feel comfortable taking your speech anywhere you want — answer the question, answer a different question, go in a complete tangent — it’s your call!


With these ground rules in mind, let’s proceed:

  1. Inspiration can come from the most mundane and unlikely places. It’s rumored that Suzanne Collins, author of The Hunger Games got inspired to write the book simply when she was channel surfing on television. On one channel she observed people competing on a reality show and on other she saw footage of the invasion of Iraq. In an news interview, she described how the two experiences began to blur together in her mind and that’s how the idea for the book was formed. So for our first taple topic: can you tell us about a moment — something you saw, that you heard, or experienced, no matter how mundane…that inspired you to take action… And what was it that you were inspired to do?
  2.  Keeping with the competition and reality show theme, one of my favorite shows on television is a cooking show called ‘Sweet Genius’. This Food Network show pits chefs against each other in a competition to come up with the best desserts based on “inspirations” that the host, chef Ron Ben Israel comes up with. Inspirations can be as simple as “apples” but combined with a second inspiration like “pop rocks”. So, for my next question, even if you can’t cook, and eat nearly every meal out at a restaurant, what food or drink has inspired you enough that you like to make it yourself? And could you tell us why? Maybe apple and pop rocks pie, like the kind mom used to make at every thanksgiving when you were a kid? Or maybe you enjoy making margaritas with a nice thick rim of salt on top because you were inspired by a particular vacation at the beach? Whatever…tell us.
  3. So we’ve heard about some pretty famous people and their inspirations. But as I mentioned, inspiration can come from anywhere, and we can be inspired by any person, not only the famous. My greatest inspiration is my father-in-law. Like my own father, he’s a first generation American, and he was also the son of a single mother because his father, just like my grandfather, had been killed during war. My father in law paid his own way through college and graduate school, eventually landing a job that enabled him to travel the world with his whole family. And now in his 70s, he’s still going strong, with a career as a winemaker. For as long as I’ve known him, he’s inspired me to challenge myself and push myself further than I thought I ever could have gone. So my question to you is, who do you find to be your greatest inspiration — famous or not, and how have they inspired you?
  4. And for my last question — it’s a simple and quick one:  has our toastmasters meeting today inspired you to take your public speaking to the next level? And it’s ok if it didn’t — please tell us why or why not?


That was fantastic — and I certainly feel inspired after hearing all of these great speeches. I also feel inspired to wrap up because we are out of time for table topics. Thank you.