評2008即席演講比賽/ On 2008 Table Topics Contest
我們有足夠的食物來餵飽世界上的每一個人。Achim Stener，聯合國環境組織會長驗一個電話訪問中提到。 但是，市場及供給現在正被食物的期貨市場所打亂。
First, let's discuss the basics. Table Topics is the impromptu speaking session of a Toastmasters meeting, when individuals respond to questions with unrehearsed mini-speeches. The topics range from current events and issues to hobbies and entertainment. Table Topics is (or should be) fast, lively, and entertaining.
2. Critical Thinking
3. Organizing and Planning
The Table Topics Master asks a question and the speaker responds with a 1 to 2 minute speech. The skills we develop and practice in Table Topics serve us well in nearly any situation, wherein we are asked difficult questions, which require prompt and specific answers.
On April 26, District 67 held the annual Table Topics Contest, with representative from 7 Division vying for the crown of Table Topics Champion. Judging is based on speech development (30%), effectiveness (25%), physical (15%), voice (15), and language (15%).
This year the Table Topics contestants all showed confidence and good organization, body language, vocal variety, and English language skills.
This year, the topic is, "Experts predicting food shortage might be coming soon, please tell us the reasons of this big issue."
For the first three contestants, I distinctly heard the Table Topics Master say "Exports," not "Experts." Were my ears deceiving me?
Second, the structure of the "question" is confusing and grammatically incorrect. It should have read something like this:
"Experts are predicting that the world may soon experience a food shortage. Please tell us the reasons for this potential food shortage."
Third, although the food crisis is an important international issue, this is a technical question, the details of which are just now coming out in the press, and may not have been know to many of the contestants on April 26.
In fact, there is not a "food shortage" ( and will have record or near-record rice harvests this year), but a "food crisis" caused by increases in commodity prices.
For example, "A series of reports in the international media have drawn attention to the role of professional speculators and hedge funds in driving up the price of basic commodities - in particular, foodstuffs." Those in the financial industry will recognize this as the "pump and dump" technique.
Or take this report from the United Nations:
“We have enough food on this planet today to feed everyone,” the head of the UN Environment Program, Achim Steiner, told The Associated Press in a telephone interview.
But, he added, “the way that markets and supplies are currently being influenced by perceptions of future markets is distorting access to that food.”
“Real people and real lives are being affected by a dimension that is essentially speculative,” said Mr. Steiner, noting that millions have found themselves unable to pay for food since prices began to rise steeply at the start of the year.
However, the way the question was worded, using the terminology "food shortage" placed imagined constraints on the Table Topics contestants. Thus, they trotted out the "usual suspects" of propaganda as their answers.
Not much creativity or critical thinking here -- "We need to eat less, we need to eat less meat, we need to do more to conserve food and energy, blah, blah, blah."
Only the winner added some self-deprecating humor by joking that she was the cause of the food shortage.
But in this real food crisis, we are not talking about eating less caviar, lobster, and prime rib; we are talking about the poorest-of-the-poor not being able to AFFORD to buy rice and wheat, just to stay alive.
In Toastmasters we are constantly learning. As District 67 Governor Jack Tsai has noted in his theme for this term: "Master yourself, help others." What is the lesson here?
We need to carefully select the Table Topics question to ensure that it is (first of all) grammatically correct and can be answered by any contestant, who has general knowledge. In addition, the question should be open-ended to allow the speaker to answer with a degree of creativity and flair, while still meeting the judging criteria.