How I Conquered Table Topics

table topics winners 2015

(Photo by Ed Fabonan)

When I first joined Toastmasters, one of the scariest parts of the program for me was Table Topics, also known as Impromptu Speaking. I am better at prepared speeches because at least you can “prepare”. Impromptu Speaking just wasn’t my strongest suit. I would marvel at our other club members (like my club mate Mark Grageda) who could speak immediately only seconds after hearing the quote or question. I felt like my brain couldn’t function being put on the spot like that.


(Photo by Ed Fabonan)

My fear of impromptu speaking is what pushed me to join the table topics contest. I wanted to rise above my fear and conquer table topics. I’ve joined the Evaluation and Prepared Speech contest before but Table Topics was way out of my comfort zone. Because the truth is, you never know what quote you might get.

11208667_10206763746915272_6644315172721306364_nTable Topics 2015 Contestants (Photo by Ed Fabonan)

“If it doesn’t challenge you, it wont change you. “

I wanted to challenge myself. So I joined. I went from the Area Contest, to the Division Contest, to the District level. It wasn’t easy – it was pretty nerve wracking actually. Especially during the District level where you had to speak in front of around 300 of the most accomplished speakers in the Philippines. It’s a good thing my fellow contestants were really nice. We had a nice chat at the holding room while waiting for our turn. We even had time to do a photo op with PDG Vic Navales.


There are 11 Divisions in District 75, so there were 11 contestants. I was speaker number 10. One by one, the other contestants got called by the marshal out of the holding room. Until…it was my turn. I was nervous but also excited. Somehow speaking in front of a crowd energizes me. The bigger the crowd, the more energy it gives me. Then the quote was read twice.

Success is 99% failure.

table topics 2015  toastmasters

Table Topics Perpetual trophy (left) donated by 2009 Table Topics Champion Khris Albano

When I heard the quote, I silently thanked God for giving me this quote. Because having failed many times, this was something I could relate to. As business owner, “failing” was something I was used to. Although I don’t really think of them as ”failures” but rather, learning experiences. I believe you never fail as long as you learn. You can only fail when you refuse to learn the lesson embedded in each experience.

table topics champion 2015

So how did I conquer table topics?

First, I decided to do it. When I made the decision to join the table topics contest, I started participating more in club table topics sessions and I began looking up quotes online. Commitment is backed up by action.

Second, be teachable. I started to look for mentors and asked for their advice on how I could improve as an impromptu speaker. There were a lot of people who helped me, most especially DTM Rolly Romblon and 2009 Table Topics Champion Khris Albano. 2011 Humorous Champion, Mark Grageda gave me a few tips as well.

Third, enjoy it! I just chose to enjoy the whole experience. Learning is fun!

I decided, win or lose I’m going to enjoy this! I’m definitely competing again – in another category this time.

This experience was bitter-sweet for me. Sweet, because I finally conquered table topics – or rather my fear of table topics. And bitter, because only two days before the competition, my grandmother passed away unexpectedly. On the same day, I lost half of my luggage at the airport. But God has just been so amazing. He gave me the strength to continue pushing forward. I can really say that He is my one true source of comfort and security. And as long as He is with me, nothing will ever keep me down.

True success isn’t about never failing but rising every time you fall.

I dedicate this win to my grandmother. I know you are in heaven now, lola.

Go live a truly wealthy life.



For those who missed the Discon, here’s a video of me during the contest. Thank you Coen Tan for the video! :)


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