Monday, January 19, 2015

Impromptu Speaking: Reverse FISO or Table Topics?

Sometimes the jargon for a product or concept is far from obvious. The two parts shown above form what microscopists call a cup stage. It is a very useful device for holding and tilting a small object for examination under a stereo microscope. But, the cup isn’t the most important part of it - the hemisphere or half-ball that sits inside is. I don’t know why it isn’t instead called either a hemispherical tilt stage or a half-ball tilt stage. I do know that jargon has been used for at least 50 years.

This morning at I found a news article by Joe Bouchard titled Reverse FISO (Forced Impromptu Speaking Opportunity). He described a training exercise where students decide what topic their instructor will give a one-minute speech on.  They got to turn the tables on another version he called the FISO Icebreaker where the students did the speech. If you have not been exposed to it in high-school or college forensics, impromptu speaking can be daunting.

What Joe calls a FISO is what Toastmasters International calls Table Topics. A detailed description can be found in their Think Fast! Table Topics Handbook. It is part of every regular club meeting. One member is the Table Topics Master, and he asks about a half-dozen members to each give a one-to-two minute speech to answer a question. There are over 14,650 clubs worldwide, and assuming they met every other week, each week you would expect to find almost 44,000 people doing these speeches.

There are many articles about Table Topics. Two I like are Jazzin’ up your Table Topics and Turning the Tables on Table Topics. In 2012 Matthew Arnold Stern wrote a 96-page book titled Mastering Table Topics. You can find a $2.49 Kindle edition at Amazon

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