A good rule of thumb at VanCore is: when you see Kate is signed up as Table Topics Master at the next meeting, be there. Kate is a teacher, and teachers (the good ones, anyway) are always stretching to get us to see the world in new ways, to develop skills we rarely test.
There were no topics in this week’s Table Topics by Kate. There were pictures. Each speaker you received a piece of paper with abstract shapes on it. Their job was to describe that page such that other members could reproduce the picture exactly. Try this sometime and you’ll see how hard it is. You’ll realize that we see cheat all the time – in the way we see the world and the way we listen. People communicate in shorthand, relating everything to what they know. We actually see and hear what we’ve seen and heard before. Genuine novelty meets a lot of resistance.
But VanCore members are a clever bunch, and they got it.
Each speaker learned from those who went before. The language became more and more descriptive and precise. Turns out, some people think in feet and inches, and some think in metres and centimetres. (The takeaway: know your audience. If you’re addressing young people in Vancouver, choose Metric. If you’re speaking to an older crowd in Seattle, go with Imperial.) The listeners became better at following instructions.
These skills may not be as sexy as giving a blow-the-doors-down speech. But without them, that speech never happens.