Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Table Topics Contest

Great news everyone! Last week we have conducted a Table Topics Contest. After the great response we got last year, we have decided to make this our annual tradition.

Each meeting is fun and interesting on its own, but from time to time we want even more emotions, a spirit of contest, communication with other clubs. That is what contests are for: to show what we can do, and to watch others in action! People from different clubs gathered in Lviv this time to compete for the titles of Best Table Topic Master, and Best Table Topic Speaker.

What are Table Topics anyway? Table topics are small impromptu speeches. They are just 2 minutes long, but need to have perfect structure, to be emotional and inspiring.

Table Topic masters announce the rules and general theme for talks. They conduct the show, talking on a subject to help speakers form their own story or a viewpoint, they also make transitions between speakers and their speeches.

This year we had four contestants who prepared their Table Topics sessions. Four judges, two from Lviv, and two from Kyiv, apprised the Best Table Topic Master based on fixed criteria and cold-minded analysis of strengths and flaws of each of four contestants. We paid much attention to fair metrics, so that a cheerful smile and contagious positiveness do not outperform thoughtful preparation and elaborate rehearsal. This is our second contest already (see the Table Topics contest 2009), nevertheless we still see the ways to improve our scale.

A fair democratic voting was our way to let the people’s hearts choose the best Speaker and the Chosen Table Topic Master. This way we made sure that no pure technical trick or weeks of thorough preparation would outperform the natural charm and enthusiasm!

Lyuba Lazarenko was first to present a topic of cartoons. The cartoon heroes we all know appeared in different situations on her pictures. Speakers were asked to describe the story behind the illustrations. All the stories were quite unexpected, and interesting :) And as one of the speakers, I must admit that they were challenging to compose. Only when one tries walking in Table Topic Speaker's shoes, can he understand how brilliant some stories and speakers truly are!

Christina Domashchuk asked the audience to come up with an alternative story based on well-known fairy tales. As in the childhood, the tales were entertaining and had a happy ending. But unlike hearing your grandmother tell the story again and again, knowing every next word, no one could ever guess what comes next! The listeners were roaring with laughter at very unexpected turns of the plots.

Yustyna Holubets was about to found a Total Happiness Organization, and conducted interviews with candidates to the head positions of departments of Confidence, Luck, Success and Creativity. Speakers presented their own ways to run the organization and help people according to their department’s competence. Very thought provoking, the topic has led to interesting ideas and thoughts that make us look at our ways of life from different angles.

And no discussion today can be conducted without trendy social networks! Yuriy Karabach lead the discussion, asked provoking questions, and even called 2 speakers at once to make a sketch on personal communication in an office while facing an impatient deadline. I am personally not a big fan of all the e-social stuff, but the discussion made me consider: maybe it’s worth a second try? It definitely sounded cool!

All the masters were hilarious and creative in their own way, and speakers were a good match to them!

Overall, the contest turned out to be a success. Ancient streets of old Lviv met the first snow, while in the SoftServe’s meeting room Toastmasters enjoyed the cozy atmosphere of friendly talks, stories, and presentations, the rage of a contest, and the joy of sweet victory.

Congratulations to Lyuba Lazarenko, she was chosen by the audience to be the Best Table Topic Speaker!

Congratulations to Christina Domashchuk, she received the Audience Choice Award!

Congratulations to Yustyna Holubets, she was chosen by the jury to be the Best Table Topic Master!

Congratulations to all participants and guests, we had a whole weekend of fun, and that was brilliant! :-)