How to handle an open-ended question!

Recently at a Toastmasters Table Topics contest, I observed a single thing that one person did who went on to win the contest. (Generally speaking, if you’re not familiar with table topics, a table topic is a question or topic given to a club member to give an impromptu response to in a time-frame of between 1 and 1:30-2 minutes.)

What did he do? He was given an open-ended question which he was free to take a for or against position on. The only controversy was it was talking about taking an opt-in system, and changing it into an opt-out system.

Rather than getting confused by this, he took a position quickly after receiving the question. As soon as he took to the stage, he launched straight into his argument for his position. So strong was his belief, he even dared the audience to challenge his position. I believe his taking a position before responding to the question and the power and conviction of his response helped him beat the competition hands down.

So, what to do if given a question where you’re free to give your opinion, must respond immediately, but without there being a “right” or “wrong” answer? Unless you really are unsure about supporting a particular position, then you’re best to quickly take a position and argue your case for it as best you can. Whether the audience agrees with your position or not, they’ll have to respect the conviction and belief with which you argued for it.