One of the most demanding situations you’ll ever face is speaking to an audience. And it can be daunting thinking up topics for your speech. Blow are some time and tested tips to help you select a topic and focus it for your audience.
Blog post created from YouTube video below.
One the most common fears is the fear of public speaking, this is because most people dread the lectern — they picture themselves at a loss for words when standing in front of it. It can be terrifying, however Toastmasters knows that there are speech topics all around us, you just need to learn how to recognise them.
1. Think about your personal experience
The best place to start looking for speech ideas is within yourself. A few specific areas in your life can hold speech topics, they may be your interests, your career, your family or your education. Your career may offer a lot of choices such as; do you work interesting people in an exciting setting or doing something unique.
Another option to look at for speech topics is to think about things you can tell people that would describe your family? What’s your secret to having a great family dynamic? How would you describe your education? Did you attend a remarkable school?
There are many fascinating topics in your life. All you need to do is to ask yourself to reveal them. This may include things such as
- What different adventures you have been on.
- Have you climbed the Eiffel Tower?
- Perhaps you’ve won a TV game show!
- What challenges have you faced in your life?
- Have you cared for a person who is ill?
- What kind of friends do you have?
- Do you know people involved in interesting careers or other activities?
- What’s your favourite meal and if you were to prepare it yourself, what is the recipe?
You should be able to answer several of these questions above in great detail, however talking about yourself is just the beginning.
2. Check Reference Materials
If you’re still looking for topics, it’s time to look elsewhere, four major resources can help you; Websites, Newspapers, Books and Magazines are all packed with stories and facts that you can use to make great speeches.
Let’s say you’ve never travelled to Canada but you’ve always wanted to. There’s plenty you can do to prepare for a speech about the trip you’d like to take.
Visit websites for the Country, Provinces, Territories, Cities and Tourist Attractions that you could describe. Check newspapers for stories about Canada and the regions that you plan to visit.
Visit the Library or bookstores and look at books and travel magazines for more ideas. Research can help you look like a travel agent and sell your trip to your listeners. Offer tips that they can’t resist. Research topics such as “what are the best deals”, “what are the most amazing sites”, “how would you travel from one place to another”, and “how could you go travel on a small budget”?
These are just a few of the ideas the you can find when reading through your reference materials. However having many things to talk about could present some problems. So how do you choose from all the information you have gathered?
3. Focus on your audience’s needs
You now may have some great ideas in mind for your next speech, however they may be too broad for any one speech. Knowing your audience can solve this problem. This is because you can focus on the information that they need to hear. And if you’re speaking to a large audience such as an international business conference, you may want to focus your speech on the appropriate topics.
Instead of talking about Canada as a great vacation destination in general, you could centre your talk on the economic benefits of the country. On the other hand, if your audience is a small group of sports enthusiasts, you could describe the Canadian ski trip of your dreams.
Other factors you may want to include could be the audience’s age range, education, interests, and shared experiences.
4. Recognize the occasion
Another way to narrow down your topic is to make it relevant to the occasion or event you’ll be speaking at. For example if the event has a special theme you could concentrate on that, if you’ve been asked to speak at a grand opening of a business that has come to your town. You could research the company to find out more about it in general, than keeping it in line with your event, you could speak about the communities confidence in a prosperous future with their new partner.
Now you can narrow down your topic by audience and the event, however there is still one more way to narrow it down.
5. Are you qualified to speak on that topic?
While you can probably speak about any topic with the proper research, there may be some limitations to consider first. If the audience is composed of experts in a field and are expecting a speech from one of their peers, you may not qualify to offer certain speeches. For example, your audience may be a group of lawyers who are interested in receiving new information on personal injury lawsuits. If you are not a lawyer you may not want to lecture them on case law.
If you were in a car accident and as a result you experienced the effects of a particular type of injury law, you might have a powerful topic to speak about. You could describe your own experiences including the challenges and rewards that came your in the legal system. Of course, a lot depends on how you address the material. And ultimately you might win over any audience with any topic if you have enough enthusiasm and knowledge to capture their interest.
With these details you can take command of your speeches, and remember topics are everywhere!
Cathy Earle is the Reef City Cairns Toastmasters club President. She has been an active member of Toastmasters since August 2017. During her time at Toastmasters she has achieved her Competent Leadership certification and completed the first level of Pathways Innovative Planning.