The Ultimate Public Speaking Question: What To Speak About?

by drjim on October 23, 2012

Speakers need to create interesting things to say when they are handed the microphone

Speakers need to create interesting things to say when they are handed the microphone

What’s the first thing that runs through your head when you are asked to give a speech? If you are like most of us it’s something along the lines of “what the heck am I going to speak about?” How to go about picking a speech topic that will keep your audience’s attention and make them use their listening skills is the key to delivering a successful speech…

Things That Can Create Speeches

All too often when we have been asked to deliver a speech, we sit back and try to come up with something great to talk about. If we overthink something like this we run the risk of creating a speech that our audience won’t be able to connect with us while we give it. It would be like giving a bad speech using great presentation tips – in the end a bad speech design is going to result in our speech not being remembered.

Instead, we need to make sure that any speech that we create is grounded in reality. This is part of the importance of public speaking. We have to base it on something that our audience can relate to and that will allow them to connect with us. More often than not, the right place to start with creating your next speech is sitting right in front of you.

Take a look around you where you are sitting right now. No matter if you are at home, in the office, at school, or in a café somewhere, the surroundings should be familiar. What objects that exist in this environment mean something to you?

It’s these objects that can serve as the foundation for your next speech. What is the object? Why does it mean something to you? What’s its story? These are all very interesting pieces of information that can be worked into your next speech. Yes, you’ve been asked to give a speech for a specific reason. However, if you can use the objects from your surroundings to create a framework on which to build a speech, then you’ll be able to relate it back to your speech’s topic. In the end, your audience will enjoy your speech and they’ll be able to connect with you.

Events That Can Create Speeches

Every audience wants to learn something from the next speech that they attend. What this means for you is that you’re going to have to share something with them that they have not heard before. We’ve all had so many similar experiences that at times this can seem to be challenging.

However, as a speaker you need to realize that you have had experiences that nobody else in your audience has had. Or you’ve had the same experiences that they’ve had, but they turned out differently. What this means is that you’ve got stories to tell to your audience.

You don’t have to have pulled people from a burning building or have climbed the world’s tallest mountain. A lot of what your audience wants to hear you talk about can be considered to be somewhat mundane – they want to know how you’ve met regular everyday challenges and how you’ve been successful.

The next time that you are asked to give a speech, consider what you are being asked to speak about and then give some thought to the events and experiences that you’ve had. Do you have something that you can use to build an experience-based framework on for giving your next speech?

What All Of This Means For You

We are all living busy, complicated lives and it turns out that this is great news. The next time that we’re asked to give a speech, it’s the chaos of our lives that we can draw from to create a great speech – this is one of the benefits of public speaking.

One great source of speech topics is to look around ourselves and identify all of the objects that are in our lives. Although some of these objects may be mundane, how they came into our lives or what they mean to us can serve as the basis of a speech.

Another source of possible speech topics are the events that are occurring or which have occurred in our lives. These events are unique to us – nobody else has experienced anything exactly like them. This is where the power of our ability to tell a story about one or more of these events can serve as the foundation of our next speech.

As speakers we have an obligation to our next audience to deliver a great speech. In order to make this happen, we need to be able to build a speech that will be memorable to them. If we’ll take the time to look around us at the objects and the events that are in our lives, we’ll be able to create memorable speeches that will make an impact in the lives of our audiences.

- Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that there are any objects in your life that might be off limits as a source when it comes to creating a speech?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So why do we speakers go to the effort of giving a speech in the first place? Hopefully it is so that what we say will be remembered by our audience if they are willing to use their listening skills. The sad reality is that no matter what clever presentation tips we use, most of what we say won’t be remembered; however, if we can come up with a memorable statement that we use in our speech, then we stand a chance of making a lasting impact on our audience and sharing with them the importance of public speaking. Now just how does a speaker go about creating a memorable quote?

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{ 6 comments… read them below or add one }

Julianne Kissack October 25, 2012 at 5:52 pm

Bringing in personal experiences is always a great to keep speeches from being mundane for sure. I find people always respond to personal experience stories and experience a lot more than just straight facts.

Also I have found that after doing tons of speeches you can learn to improvise a lot more. There are times when I am speaking and all of a sudden a topic or experience comes to mind that I did not have in the original speech outline that ends up being a lot stronger then what I have prepared.

Thanks for this post! Very useful!

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson October 26, 2012 at 6:31 pm

Julianne: I’d bet that when you get inspired to share a story with your audience during a speech the “realness” of that story also comes out. What a powerful way to connect with your audience!

Reply

Sagar Bane October 26, 2012 at 3:30 am

Its a wonderful insight to making effective public speech. My take away from this are – 1. People like to hear something they havent heard before and it excites them, it can be mundane tasks. Second what value add they get. Everyone wants to derive value he can apply or connect with.

A suggestion here is along with these techniques a speaker can demo new techniques that they can practice. This helps them connect with subject faster as they would know tricks to handle them the simplest way. Adding testimonials is an important tool, people connect faster to Testimonials. Thanks! Think wide Think deep.

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson October 26, 2012 at 6:32 pm

Sagar: you make a great point. Each and every one of use needs to find ways to get better at this speaking thing each time that we get up there…!

Reply

Clem McGrath October 26, 2012 at 10:41 pm

Yes, I fully agree with all of the above comments. Consistently I have people tell me that they appreciate my “realness” when I share my own stories and events with them. Added to that is the willingness to show your vulnerability. Let them see that you sometimes struggle with things, that you may have messed up recently, or that you sometimes get derailed by fear.

People immediately know that you are just like them but also that you have risen above circumstances and kept going. That inspires them.

Reply

Dr. Jim Anderson November 2, 2012 at 10:34 am

Clem: Great point!

Reply

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