In Conversation with the Division Champs – Table Topics Contest

Table topics is probably the most feared part of a toastmasters meeting. But then, imagine standing on a large stage, before an unfamiliar audience and speaking on an unknown topic while you are being judged! After two months of arduous competition we have the creme de la creme – our division level table topic champions, who will now compete for the title of District Champion of the Table Topics Contest.

The district PR team spoke to each of the victors to understand their journey to the crown. Here’s what they had to say…

 

Division A

Div A_TT_Dirish Mohan

DIRISH MOHAN – Banjara Toastmasters club

 

1. How has your club helped you with contests?

Banjara Toastmasters has been a part of my life. A club that has helped me evolve to become a better speaker, mentor and human being.   This time around, while I have worked at evolving the concept, there have been many dear friends who have stood by and contributed to helping build this speech into a memorable one. I remain indebted to them.

2. What one thing you like and the one thing that dreads you the most about the table topics contest?

Table topics contest gives you the opportunity to think beyond and test the true ability of how well you’re able to respond within the limited time frame. The vulnerability of getting it right each time is a dreaded thought. However, that essentially is the beauty of table topics!

3. How are you preparing for the upcoming district finals of the Table Topics contests?

Fingers Crossed. Hoping the almighty showers mercy to speak the right things during those 2 minutes.

4. As a contestant what is the biggest lesson you have learnt this contest season?

The lesson I learnt is that – it’s not good enough to have good product, it’s important to let the world know you have one too!

Division B

Div B_Mathew Verghese

MATHEW VERGHESE – Talkmagic Toastmasters

 

1. What is the one thing you like and the one thing you dread the most about the table topics contest?

Uncertainty. That makes it both scary and exciting.

2. How has your club helped you with contests?

I’ll always remain indebted to my mentor and my club for the support they have extended. Their inputs have helped me immensely in my Toastmaster’s journey.

3. As a contestant what is the biggest lesson you have learnt this contest season?

Enjoy the process.

4. Who is the one speaker in district 92 you admire the most and why?

There are many stalwarts I admire in district 92. It is really difficult to single out any one.

5. If you could live the life of a famous personality for a day who would it be and why? Mother Teresa. Her humility and efforts helped changed people’s lives. What a legacy she has left behind.

 

Division C

saveen

SAVEEN S HEGDE – Deejay’s Toastmasters

 

1. What one thing you like and the one thing that dreads you about the table topics contest?

One thing I like about table topics is the unpredictability of the situation.

One thing I dread about table topics is the unpredictability of the situation.

2. How has your club helped you with contests?

Every meeting there are members who walk up to me and share their candid feedback which helps me reflect on every speech I deliver. Our club has some extraordinary speakers and just being present in the club and observing them speak gives me an opportunity to learn and grow. Right before the contest, the support is not just restricted to the speech, but the moral support and guidance during the contest is extremely crucial. I have been fortunate to have been around exceptionally supportive people.

 

3. As a contestant what is the biggest lesson you have learnt this contest season?

As long as you are competing with yourself, it is worth competing.

4. If you could live the life of a famous personality for a day who would it be and why?

I would NEVER want to live someone else’s life even for a second, forget one full day. I would rather spend that day with that famous personality in order to pick some interesting lessons from that person. At whatever stage I am in, in my life, I know that there is always something that I can learn from someone. If given a chance, I would spend a day with Rahul Dravid rather than being Rahul Dravid.

 

Division D

CK

T. CHENDIL KUMAR – Smedley Speakers Society

 

1. What one thing you like and the one thing that you dread the most about the table topics contest?

I like the excitement and dread the wait before your name is called.

2. How has your club/mentor helped you with contests?

Loads of encouragement, cheer and opportunities.

3. How are you preparing for the upcoming district finals of the table topics contest?

I am trying my best to be myself.

4. As a contestant what is the biggest lesson you have learnt this contest season?

Reject the first idea that comes to your mind when responding to table topics.

5. Who is the one speaker in district 92 you admire the most and why?

Rajdeep Manwani for his authenticity.

Division E

KVM Kishore

V. M. Kishore – Speakers’ Den

 

1. What one thing you like and the one thing that dreads you about the table topics contest?

One thing I like is that table topics is so incredibly easy and fun when you are the table topics master but one thing that dreads is the thought when you aren’t the one giving but receiving the topic.

2. How has your club helped you with contests?

Speakers Den is a place that emphasizes not just on speaking but quality speaking. Veteran speakers like Suraj, mentors like Kausthubh have constantly helped me with insights about how better I could have turned around the speech.

3. How are you preparing for the upcoming district finals of the table topics contest?

I’m reading books and newspapers, mediating, working out and eating three raw eggs every day. Like this I’m trying to make something witty out of every topic and question I come across.

4. As a contestant what is the biggest lesson you have learnt this contest season?

Un-complicate, that is the lesson I learnt. In a determination to speak powerful, give a meaningful message, incorporate humor and also give a twist to the content, I often mess up the content. So I learnt the key is to keep it simple and uncomplicated.

5. Who is the one speaker in district 92 you admire the most and why?

Dirish Mohan – my mentor and also a fellow contestant this year at the finals. He speaks with conviction, great usage of language and always a treat to listen to.

Division F

Sudeep photo (white)

SUDEEP ANANTHA NARSIPUR – Mysore Impact Club

 

1. What one thing you like and the one thing that dreads you about the table topics contest?

What I like: It creates in an individual the invaluable skill of thinking and articulating on his feet.

What I dread: Sometimes there might be a disconnect between the thought in mind and the articulation. If one isn’t careful and attentive, he might end up conveying something totally contrary or irrelevant to what he wishes to convey.

 

2. How are you preparing for the upcoming district finals of the table topics contest?

Not really preparing. I believe Table Topics is an event that gives me an opportunity to lay out my truest feelings and beliefs in front of an unknown audience. It is one chance where I can truly speak my own mind, and I do not wish to let the possible bias of previous thoughts or speeches affect my impromptu response.

3. If you could live the life of a famous personality for a day who would it be and why?

Elon Musk – the CEO of Tesla Motors and SpaceX. There are very few people who have the necessary skills and their moral compass intact to really bring about a change in the world. Elon Musk is one of them. His unshakable resolve to move the world towards clean, sustainable transport and energy coupled with his near maniacal drive to get to that goal is a golden benchmark that every engineer and entrepreneur ought to emulate.

4. Your message for fellow toastmasters who wants to excel in contests:

To ensure that they continuously keep testing and pushing the limits of their skills they accumulate. There is no end point that can be fixed in the quest to become a truly great motivational speaker. It is only by testing ourselves constantly at the global scale that we can keep pushing ourselves towards the most achievable level of perfection.

Division G

anto

ANTO JOHN – EKM Toastmasters

 

1. What one thing you like and the one thing that dreads you about the table topics contest?

The thing I like the most about Table Topics is the challenge of speaking on your feet and moreover speaking effectively for that two minute duration.

When the topic is something you really like or you have a lot to talk about, the two minute span seems way too short! Those times I would dread whether I would be able to keep my comments as brief as possible, at the same time render an effective message.

2. How has your club helped you with contests?

The club members have been extremely supportive, with heaps of encouragement and valuable feedback for improvement. The first time around, I was hesitant to compete in the contests. But my club members got me into contesting, and I have contested several times since. It has certainly has helped me improve in a big way, and my club has definitely been a big factor for the same.

 

3. If you could live the life of a famous personality for a day who would it be and why?

I guess it would be Elon Musk, the founder of SpaceX and Tesla Motors. He is a person that makes the statement ‘Turn your Vision into Reality’, look fairly simple to do!

So I would be excited to live the life of the guy trying to send a rocket to Mars and back, even if it’s for a day!

4. Your message for fellow toastmasters who wants to excel in contests:

Start with a desire: You should have a desire to contest and a desire to win. This is one of the essential ingredients for success in contests.

Get out of your Comfort Zone: Try speaking more often outside the club. It could be an opportunity to MC at your friend’s wedding or maybe giving a presentation in your workplace. Either way, take the opportunity.

Keep collecting feedback: Ask your audience after your speech on what they thought about it.  Ask them a specific question like ‘Could you tell me one aspect that I could have done better? The feedback will help shape your future speaking endeavors.

 

Division H

Div H_Paul Ansel V

PAUL ANSEL V. – AISAT Toastmasters Club

 

1. What one thing you like and the one thing that dreads you about the table topics contest?

I like it because it doesn’t need preparation. I fear it because of its unpredictable nature.

2. How has your club helped you with contests?

Very much. The confidence instilled by all fellow members has lifted my spirit.

3. How are you preparing for the upcoming district finals of the table topics contest?

I keep on reading!

4. As a contestant what is the biggest lesson you have learnt this contest season?

Be simple and straight forward.

5. Who is the one speaker in district 92 you admire the most and why?

CC   Jayaraman C. my mentor

Division I

chetana

CHETANA PATRICIA LOBO – Arowana Toastmaster Club

 

1. What one thing you like and the one thing that dreads you about the table topics contest?

My dad always says I am born for the stage, which is why I have been on the stage more often than in the audience. The stage is what binds me to toastmaster. It tests certain aspects of me such as courage, strength and confidence when I am standing on stage that is what I like about table topics challenge. I am often scared where my strength could be my weakness as well, although I am comfortable when I am giving a table topic I am afraid of letting overconfidence take the better of me, which is when I have a possibility to messing up.

2. How has your club helped you with contests?

I hail from an advance toastmasters club and I have great mentors like Kaustubh, Arvind Ganesh, KVM Kishore, Suraj, Pawas. From my home Division I have a lot of support from TM Aalap, DTM Arjun URS and Santhoush. There are points when I needed support and these people have always been by my side as mentors.

3. How are you preparing for the upcoming district finals of the table topics contest?

This is my second time into the finals, I am not as nervous as last year. Table Topics is all about presence of mind on stage. I will give my best. I have kept my ears open and I have been listening and taking tips. I can just hope for the best and wish the force be with me.

 

4. If you could live the life of a famous personality for a day who would it be and why?

I think I am already living one. I have come a long way in Toastmasters and at every step I have been appreciated and have been encouraged to become better. In particular I would like to live the life of Hillary Clinton- She is a woman who stands her ground.

 

We wish the division champions all the luck in the world for the upcoming district finals!

 

 

Compiled by – TM Chandana Srinivas

 

 

 

 

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