Toastmasters - Collected Wisdom

These are summaries of the collected wisdom of contributors to a Toastamsters newsgroup which operated between 1995 and 2008 and ToastmastersPrime, a Google group which commenced in 2008. This is not an official Toastmasters site, but is an edited collection of posts from the newsgroup and the Google group. These groups provide an unofficial means of communicating for an enthusiastic group of Toastmasters from throughout the world.

Sunday, December 10, 2006

Database of Speech ideas

When EAgle was suffereing from writer's block in December 2003 he posted a thread "Writers Block.. CTM #8"

Jim Key, DTM 2003 World Champion of Public Speaking shared his secret:

I've had great success in coming up with speech ideas by building my own database of stories, rather than looking for an external source of speech ideas. I highly recommend it.
Here's how I went about it: Some time ago, I created a database in my computer for my stories.

The records contain two fields: Story, and Application. Both of them are free-form text fields. (If you don't want to be quite so "techie" about it, a simple notebook will suffice.) In "Story" I put enough of the details of something that I've experienced to bring it back to my memory, and in "Application" I the ways I think I can use that story, a truth it exemplifies, etc. I then began reviewing my memory for things that happened during my childhood, my youth, my years at university, etc. In all, I have a couple of hundred stories. (Each of us has more wonderful stories in us than we may initially realize.)

When it comes time for me to write a new speech, I open that database and begin reviewing those stories. I find that either one of them stands out as something I can use in the speech, or it "jump-starts" the creative thinking process in my mind, and I think of other ideas that I can use.

An additional benefit has been that I've found is that I have become much more sensitive to things I see/read/hear on TV/movies, in books, and through personal interactions and conversations that can be effective in conveying significant meaning in my speeches. Now that I document and catalog these things, my sensitivity and awareness of them has increased.

John F added:
I have a box of index cards. I use the top line for title and/or subject. Then I write a short description underneath.

The nice thing about index cards is you can carry a few with you (along with a pen), and when you get an idea you can quickly jot it down.

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