“There is no one subject that is going to interest every audience at every event. Selecting a topic is a personal journey. It’s where you, your audience and your knowledge matter. Let’s break down the process of finding the best speech topic when you are given the gift of choosing any topic you’d like.”
Step 1: Who’s in Your Audience? The topic you select is to benefit them and provide value. Remember, content is key to creating presentations that audiences love.
Step 2: What Do You Know About? Develop a list of your expertise.
Step 3: What Do You Love? Look through the list of your expertise and circle the topics you feel passionate about.
Step 4: Choose The Best Topic For The Audience And Event You understand your audience, you know what you know and appreciate what you love. Look at the topics you circled. Find the topic that best serves your audience.
If you are a toastmaster, you probably know that the speech projects from the toastmasters manuals describe the ways but do not provide the topics. Check out the below video for helping you to find good speech topics.
Finding Speech Topics Video from Toastmasters International
What should your speech be about? Should you stick to the topics you know, or explore a new subject? Get answers to these questions and more.
1. Talk about your personal experience. 2. Check reference materials like websites, newspapers, books and magazines. 3. Focus on your audience’s needs. 4. Recognize the occasion. 5. Are you qualified to speak on that topic?
Furthermore, I have two additional articles that I would like to share with you. The first one is “Setting Up a Speech Databank – the Real Secrets to Creative Speech Ideas” written by ATM-G Ng Seng Chuan.
Basically, we have to create a speech databank. “Set up an account book for depositing ideas, and you will have a wealth of materials from which to draw inspiration for your speeches.”
As stated in the article, “good ideas abound in life. All we need is a system for harvesting them”. The system is that you have to read widely. How about setting aside half an hour each day for reading. Make time to read and you will be generating ideas.
The next step is that you have to create “thinking time”. How to create the best thinking time? There are two suggestions. First, exercise regularly and you may get interesting ideas. When you are exercising, your mind is free to imagine. Secondly, make use of your “mindless time”. When you are travelling or doing daily routines, you can think clearly. Remember to jot down good ideas when they come, or else you will forget them.
Finally, you have to make time to write. Plan to do one speech a month.
Here is a simple plan as stated in the article.
“Week One: read the manual requirements, and start to think how you are going to fulfill them. Week Two: Settle on a topic, then start to develop a simple speech outline. Week Three: Write out your speech early in the week, then edit and refine. Week Four: Practice and rehearse.”
By setting up your speech databank and following this simple plan, you should have no problem for doing your projects.
Here is the full article.
Setting Up A Speech Databank
(The Real Secret to Creative Speech Ideas!)
By Ng Seng Chuan, ATMG
Many Toastmasters are keen to do their projects but soon run out of ideas. The speech projects prescribe the parameters, but do not provide the topics. And so we wait for the ideas to form for each project, and take years to complete our CTM ranking. This is bad for the club because it sets back the DCP goals; it is also bad for the Toastmaster because it hinders his speech progress. If this is your problem, I have the solution. Read on!
A friend of mine laughs at people who struggle to pay income tax. His strategy is simple. Estimate the tax payable from the beginning of your calendar year and put the money aside on a monthly basis. The result? No matter how much the taxman asks for, you have more than enough to settle the bill.
The same remedy can be used for your Toastmasters project speeches. Create a speech databank! Set up an “account book” for depositing ideas, and you will have a wealth of ideas from which to draw inspiration for your speeches. The secret comes from a Black preacher. A dynamite of a preacher, someone asked him what made him such a powerful speaker. His answer “First ah reads me full, then ah thinks me clear, then ah prays me hot; and then ah let’s go!”. Translated into a formula that will work for a Toastmaster, it goes like this:
1. Read Conscientiously Many of us do not read very widely. To be a good speaker, we have to. If you want something badly, but have no money, what do you do? You make money! Here are some suggestions. How about spending half an hour of your lunch break for reading. It will leave you with interesting ideas to bedazzle your audience. Alternatively, plan to set aside two hours over the weekend for your personal development through reading.
What to read? First read professionally – things related to your area of expertise. This is the easiest place to start. Secondly, read for literary enjoyment! Catch up on the best selling authors, be it fiction or non-fiction. Thirdly, read for cultural development. Books on religion, philosophy and psychology provide a powerful stimulus for quick thinking.
2. Think Creatively In order for you to think clearly, you need to first create mental “play-time”. How do you go about creating “thinking time”? I have two suggestions.
First exercise regularly. While exercising, your body is kept busy, and this is the best time for mental calisthenics! Your brain goes into overdrive (stimulated by the endorphins released into your blood stream), and thinks of the most interesting things. Secondly, maximise on “mindless” time – like when performing daily rituals or when travelling. I often tell my students to use travel time to practise impromptu speech (table topics).
Jot down good ideas when they come, or they will soon disappear from your mental landscape! My best speech ideas often come when I am jogging or cycling, and I have to write them down the moment I can lay my hands on pen and paper.
3. Plan Carefully Where are you in your speech development? Are you on your way to being a better public speaker, or are you just marking time at the Toastmasters Club? One simple way to ensure progress is to set up a system that will compel you to deliver your speeches regularly. My formula is as follows:
Plan to do one speech a month. This will ensure you attain a new ranking every year. And it is really easier than you think. Here is how it works. Week One: Read the manual requirements, and start to think how you are going to fulfil them. Week Two: Settle on a topic, then start to develop a simple speech outline, or at least jot down some thoughts. Week Three: Write out your speech early in the week, then edit and refine. Week Four: Practise and rehearse. It is easy to do one speech a month, and both you and your club will be on the way to success!
Conclusion Good ideas abound in life. All we need is a system for harvesting them. Make time to read: and you will be generating and germinating ideas. Make time to think: ideas need time for incubation, and periods of exercise and leisure can be your most creative moments. Make time to write: whatever you do, give life to your ideas. Follow this simple plan and the speech databank you set up will launch the speech communicator within you in an effective way.
By Ng Seng Chuan, a Speech Consultant Ng Seng Chuan ATMG is a past president of Lion City TMC and has represented his division in several district speech contest finals since 1998. He was the 1st runner-up in the International Speech Contest District 80 May 2005 and 2nd runner-up in the Humorous Speech Contest District 80 Nov 2005.
Looking for Speech Ideas? Look at Your Life by DTM Dee Dees
For Project One “Ice Breaker”, you can talk about a brief overview of your life.
For Project Two “Organize Your Speech”, you can talk about your hobbies or areas of expertise.
For Project Three “ Get to the point”, you can discuss an issue that is important to you, for example, your college education or the impact of having served in the army.
For Project Four “How to Say It”, you can talk about your favourite holiday destination, or a major event in your life – marriage, the birth of your child, or retiring from your job. I think now you should have ideas on what to write for your speeches.
If you want to overcome stage fright, learn how to find speech topics and to speak with confidence, join a toastmasters club. You are welcome to visit our Kampong Ubi Toastmasters Club if you are living in Singapore
1. Know your material.
2. Make it personal.
3. Practice makes permanent.
4. Time yourself.
5. Pace yourself.
6. Arrive early.
8. Visualize your success.
9. Trust your audience.
10. Don’t apologize.
11. Use humor when things go wrong.
12. Gain experience.
13. Eliminate filler words.
14. Ditch distracting mannerisms.
15. Keep your notes in check.
16. Test your volume.
17. Enter contests.
18. Enjoy yourself.
19. Use visuals.
20. Embrace your unique style.
21. Fuel your mental engine.
22. Burn off anxiety.
23. Be prepared for the worst.
25. Ask a thought-provoking question.
26. Share a startling fact.
27. Don’t overload your slides.
28. Repeat the audience’s questions.
29. Give your audience an immediate action item.
30. Push the envelope.
31. Seek opportunities everywhere.
32. Be specific.
33. Be the expert.
34. Speak to groups as individuals.
35. Learn about your personal leadership style.
36. Find your strengths.
37. Be passionate.
38. Have a positive attitude.
39. Practice impromptu speaking.
40. Encourage honest evaluation.
41. Use quotes, stories and anecdotes.
42. Use “you” and “we”.
43. Don’t take things personally.
44. Trust your instincts.
45. Distinguish your goals and targets.
46. Learn from your mistakes.
47. Know when to lose your script.
48. Know the dress code.
49. Use slang with caution.
50. Breathe out.
YMCA, Santa Ana, California, home of the first Toastmasters Club
51. Be patient.
52. Treat your speech like fine dining.
53. Start your career off on the right note.
54. Own your worth.
55. When you disagree with someone, rebut their ideas, not them.
56. Stand. Settle. Smile.
57. Speak your needs.
58. Get rest.
59. Avoid negative topics.
60. Smile and introduce yourself.
61. Practice eye contact.
62. Limit caffeine.
63. Don’t hide from your audience.
64. Use color.
65. Don’t alienate your audience.
66. Know your audience.
67. Avoid speaking in monotone.
68. Free your hands.
69. Be succinct.
70. Be open to evaluation.
71. Give evaluations.
72. Use blue note cards.
73. Join the online conversation.
74. Share the wealth.
75. Start your journey.
76. Accept accolades.
77. Step up.
78. Chat with ease.
79. Manage your time.
80. Make them laugh.
81. Speak your case.
82. Keep the peace.
83. PREP (Point, Reason, Example, Point).
84. Give a top-notch toast.
85. Tap into the past.
86. Use common language.
87. Don’t get lost in translation.
88. Take jokes for a test drive.
89. Use people’s names.
90. Keep a journal.
Since 1924 Toastmasters International has helped more than four million people gain the confidence to communicate. Join Toastmasters and find a club that you like to practise your speaking skills. You are welcome to visit our Kampong Ubi Toastmasters Club if you are living in Singapore.