A frequently asked question in our Public Speaking Workshops is what do I speak about? How do you choose a topic to speak on?
At about this time those participants who are attending because of work commitments or work expectations heave a sigh of relief because they don’t have this problem. Very often they have been given their topic/subject matter by the company.
For those who don’t have a specific topic given them the following are some of the suggestions we offer:
Ideas can come from a variety of sources: things you read or observe or talk about with family, friends and co-workers on a daily basis. Often these topics of conversation, which may otherwise seem irrelevant, can suddenly spark an idea or relate to an idea already brewing in your head.
Newspapers and magazines are great inspiration for topics, especially in stirring up your opinion on an issue or event
Your hobbies and interests can also provide enough material for speeches. That’s one of the keys to preparing and delivering a good speech: choose a topic that you are interested in and even passionate about.
Sometimes a quote you read or hear could form the basis of your speech; especially if you are putting together a motivational or inspirational speech.
Selecting the general purpose of a speech is necessary to bring your speaking ideas into focus. The general purposes of each speech are to entertain, inform, or persuade. What message do you want your listeners to take home with them?
I recommend keeping a notebook where you can jot down ideas – believe me I have often regretted not having that notebook with me. Inspiration can come at odd moments, even in the middle of the night and if you don’t write it down it can very easily slip away.
Three Golden Rules for developing your speeches:
Speak about something you know. Talk about something that you have earned the right to talk about through study and experience. Subjects should come from your own knowledge and convictions. Talk about your experiences.
Choose a topic you are excited about. Anyone can make a superb speech if they will speak about something that has deeply stirred them. Living, feeling, thinking, enduring – that is the finest preparation ever yet devised for speaking. Select a topic that interests you and your audience and is related to your purpose. Audience analysis is a central element for successfully choosing and narrowing topics for public communication.
Have an eager desire to share with your listeners. An engaging presentation comes from a deep and abiding desire to communicate your convictions and transfer your feelings to your listeners.
Topic selection involves the generation of a large number of ideas through brainstorming, flexibility in thinking, and suspension of judgment. The effective speaker will consider the appropriateness of ideas and examine all possible associated topics before settling on one topic.
Once you have your topic and written your speech develop an appropriate Speech Title. This should relate to your speech. However, the title can be straightforward or you can create interest with an obscure or tantalising title. Keep your audience and the occasion in mind when choosing the appropriate title.
So if you have been asked to speak to a group and have been given the freedom to choose your topic keep some of these ideas in mind and delve into your notebook full of speech ideas to develop your effective presentation.