Are you stumped as to what your next speech should be about? Do you have trouble thinking of ideas to talk to audiences about? You are not alone! I believe most people join a speaking group such as Toastmasters because they DO want to speak – they just do not always know WHAT to speak about. So here is your roadmap to F.I.N.D.ing your next speech!
F. Make your “4Fs” list...
In the compilation book “World Class Speaking in Action”, keynote speaker Kimberly Myers outlines ways to uncover humour in your speeches. Myers' advice was to analyze your “4F's” and while she was talking specifically about speaking humorously, the same analysis can be used to find topics for any speech or talk. The “4F's” are Failure, Firsts, Flaws and Frustrations. What failures stick in your mind as significant in your life? Is there something significant that happened the first time you tried something? What personality traits do you work on, or have you worked on that have provided lessons that others can learn from? And finally, what frustrations have you had to overcome on your life's journey?
What are your values? What words describe who you are. In his book “The Charge”, author Brendon Burchard outlines that everyone should come up with 6 descriptive words about themselves. He says that 3 words should describe you and who you are (or strive to be), and 3 words should describe how you are with others (or want to be with others). These words will tell a lot about you, and they can serve as topics to speak about. For example, when I did Burchard's exercise, I came up with the words “Passionate, Ambitious, and Focused” for myself, and “Present, Inspiring and Loving” for how I aim to be with other people. From these words, I could create speeches such as “How to live with more Energy Everyday” (Passionate) or “How my Mother taught me to Listen to People and be Empathetic” (Presence).
What are Your words? What words describe who you are? How did you learn to be that way? How are you with other people? Who taught you how to treat others? There are many stories that can come from just these questions. There is your next speech!
N. What stories are you NOTORIOUS for?
Do you have a story that you just tell naturally whenever you are at a family event? When you meet people for the first time, is there a funny or poignant story that you always tell? Is there a story that people always ask you to tell? (“Tell us again how you...”). These stories are great for speeches because not only are they familiar to you, but they are unique and will create a speech that no one can duplicate. Audiences love old lessons, but they want to be taught them in a new way. Do that with your own popular personal stories.
D. Make a Decades List
How are you different now than you were in your teens. 20s. 30s. 40s. I bet that you have said at least once before, “Wow! I've changed so much since I was ______”. Well, HOW have you changed? What made you change? What major events happened in your early years that molded you into who you are today? Did you drop out of high school? Did you graduate from university at the top of your class? Did you have a family earlier in life than you expected? Later? Did you learn a lesson in your 30s that made you a better person? Think about your life over the decades and what has happened to you. That is where your stories are! So tell them!
Use these 4 strategies to F.I.N.D. Your next topic, and I promise you this – you will have so many new ideas flowing, that you will have more topics than you can use! Here is an extra piece of advice: Always have a way to record your ideas nearby. Use your notes application on your phone, or have a pen and pad nearby. Either way, have a method to capture your ideas nearby ALWAYS, because you never know when your next great story will come to you!
Kwesi Millington helps speakers, presenters and youth to connect with their audiences and master their messages using the power of storytelling in their speeches & presentations. He is a Certified Public Speaking Coach & Youth Mentor.