Welcome to Toastmasters Southern Africa
I don’t know what to Speak About!!!
One of the most common “excuses” I have heard for speakers not turning up when they are scheduled to do so on the programme or for dropping out at the last minute is that thay did not know what to speak about and so could not prepare for the assignment.
The other common “excuse “ is of course - I didn’t have enough Time - Oh Boy what a lame excuse but that is a different issue than the topic one we will discuss in this brief.
The main blockage in finding a topic is that we generally spend too much time thinking about it – too close to the actual presentation date. i.e. we leave it to the last minute!
Then the next issue is we look for a perfect topic.
Let’s consider what we are trying to achieve in a CC/AC presentation. It’s not the content that is the main issue it’s the assignment purpose – e.g., Vocal Variety or Body Language etc. So let’s stop looking for that contest winning topic and rather choose one that fits the Assignment Objectives the Best. The speeches that require Content such as Persuasion and Inspiration are few and far between and these are best left to your favourite issues in any event.
When I mentor members and we meet for the first time I make a point of taking the manual/s they want to do and we page through the manual from start to end and read the assignment synopsis and the evaluation criteria. – Then we note down for each assignment the first thoughts that come to mind. This we do in pencil somewhere in the manual on the relevant assignment pages.
The effect of this exercise is that the topic is not far away when you come to prepare for that assignment – you may well change it but the spark for a topic and approach to the assignment has already been sparked and now you can just home it or improve it.
Once you have the spark then setting about mind mapping the speech is a piece of cake – as the topic is known , the research is easy to do with Google etc and the formulating the presentation around the manual speech objectives is a few hours work at most.
Another good way to get ideas for the speech topic/subject is to ASK others what they did in that particular assignment. – Some Clubs (very few) have a database of all their members speeches and the topics they spoke about for each assignment. This gets the creative juices flowing and helps you choose a great topic etc.
Another way is to be on the lookout for speeches at every turn – always have a note pad (digital recorder on cell phone) to hand and record all ideas and then categorise them on your PC for later use. Remember you are not looking for only 10 speeches for the CC and say 30 for the AC Gold, You are looking for at least 200 to 300 speeches as that is what your goal should be if you want to be a great speaker.
Finally work with the Mentors in the club – either the assignment mentors or your own mentor – these don’t exist in your club – ask the VPE why Not!