“I haven’t given a speech for three months, because I don’t know what to speak about.”
= Most frequent explanation which we at Toastmasters give, when we want to justify our inactivity.
Since we’re trying to work on becoming better at public speaking – improve ways how we build storylines, how we structure our speeches, what gestures we use and how we work with our voice – it seems to be a bit of a shame that so often our learning is impeded just by the inability to find the right topic around which to build a speech.
I gave it a thought… and found a solution! A constant source of inspiration – that we can use every day.
I said to myself: Let’s write down the first five things that I see in my Newsfeed – and for each of them, try to come up with a speech topic.
Here is how it went:
Post #1: World Cup
Something about the World Cup posted by my Italian friend. In Italian.
I struggled to understand this one. Italian was not the problem (I speak some), but I had no clue about what was going on in the World Cup.
This made me think: Does it really make sense to organize these world cups in football? All those people flying to places just to watch a few athletes kick the ball and perform breathtaking jumps at slightest indication of contact with their opponent? How about all the carbon emissions?
Post #2: Equal Treatment
A Scandinavian friend of mine complained in his post: “Today my pretty wife walked around a group of construction workers who greeted her with wolf-whistles. I came 20 meters behind with a stroller and a baby – and did not get any attention. Where’s the equal treatment?”
As for what speech topics can be drawn from this one, I leave to your imagination. I’m sure you’ll come up with a myriad.
Post #3: #Beeitwenie
Picture of people watching the World Cup in a beergarden. Tagged only with: “#Beeitwenie”
Whatever that was supposed to mean – this could push me to give a speech about the use (or lack of it) of Twitter! If more people used Twitter, they would not have to use hashtags on Facebook (where they’re not that useful and… look ugly).
Post #4: Drunk with Friends
Picture of group of drunk youngsters standing in a circle, holding each other’s shoulders
Direct connection: Don’t put your drunk pictures anywhere – or you might have trouble getting a decent job. Seriously.
Post #5: Geeky Monkey
Picture of monkey sitting in water and playing with a smartphone
Made me think: How to set your Facebook newsfeed so that you never see completely irrelevant updates? How useful it would be if you could filter out all pictures displaying animals (maybe except for Grumpy Cat)? Was the monkey able to actually call someone, or was it just playing Angry Birds?
Five posts – way more than five speech topics! Maybe they will not qualify as TED Talks of the month, but for practice of presentation skills – more than enough!
One of my Toastmaster colleagues says that we can learn a lot by watching the grass grow. While I see some potential there, I’d suggest you this:
When out of inspiration, just look at places where you would not expect to find anything. The answers might come… even from your Facebook Newsfeed.
P.S.: In case you really want to see the picture of the monkey playing with a smartphone, here it is.