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.

Monday, December 11, 2006

Project 4: How to say it - topic ideas

In January 2001, TRH was looking for ideas to do "Work with Words" speech 6 in the C and L - this is project 4, "How to say it" in the 2003 manual.

Susan advised:
#1: Talk about somewhere you went on vacation ... that allows you to describe things and scenery and people, with vivid and descriptive words
#2: Talk about your career or occupation ... which would allow you to use the "jargon" of your industry.
#3: Talk about 2 or 3 "sayings" or "aphorisms" on a specific theme ... and do some analysis of what they mean, and how they came about. e.g. if the theme was time, you could use "a stitch in time saves nine", "the time of your life", "time waits for no man".

Moira added:

A speech describing a holiday/work trip to an exotic destination provides a good opportunity to introduce some new words.

I have spoken on specific words which I have found repulsive or attractive or particularly descriptive, together with a general treatise on the power of specific words. I have also done a speech on the joy of being in love with words.
This is your opportunity to use other people's words in support of points you are making.

From Gene: If your occupation is technical, you might try explaining it in layman's terms, REAL layman's terms.
Mine was entitled "What Computer People Do".
Take a field that uses lots of complicated or mysterious-sounding terms and explain it simply.

When Ed had the same problem in August 2002

Joy offered: Think of something to tell about where you can use a lot of descriptive terms.
For instance, I'm working on a speech called "A Fair for all Senses". It's about my recent visit to a county fair, and all the things there were to see, hear, smell, taste, and touch.

Ruth thought "You could do a speech focusing on words."
For example, one friend talked about grammar and it actually was interesting. I'm doing this speech on Faith Popcorn's Dictionary of the Future, describing words that Popcorn believes are in our future--like the job description of "web gardener")

You could do a speech about your job or hobby--all have their own sets of "jargon."

John contributed this thought:

Whatever speech you give for assignment 6 should build on the previous assignments and stretch the way you use words.

Go through it. Is the colour blue mentioned. Would azure be more relevant? Or is the blue you had in mind a more pastel variation? Is it azure or cobalt or navy. All shades of blue, each introducing a picture in the listeners mind that takes them far further in the direction you want to go than blue ever could.

Write your speech then when you reread it look for words that be upgraded to tell a story of their own.

Use a thesaurus - not to find bigger words, but more descriptive ones.

Ledema chose to do #6 on poetry. She explained how she became interested in it and then shared some lines from a number of different poems she had read.

In the conclusion, she suggested that they too might get "Hooked on Poetry" (her speech title) and then passed out a small book of poetry she had just finished.

In March 1995, when it was Alex that had the challenge, CJ replied:

There are a number of different ways you could interpret the objectives of this speech, Work with Words.

Three different ways it was done in our club were

1) talk about words which have different meanings,

2) give a sentence such as, "How long will it take you to complete the objectives?" Put the emphasis on a different word each time you say the sentence and see how the meaning changes,

3) explain how adjectives used to describe certain words change meanings such as adjectives for wine like "bouquet, oakey, heavy."

Oh yes, another one I remember is when a woman used words to describe different sneezes and how people sneeze.

Annette added: in a community club, my speech was around a holiday. I looked for phrases and other words related to the holiday. The second time around I was in a company club and worked on the topic of information science. That lent itself to several words which could be used.

Alice gave this one immediately after the 1991 Gulf War and spoke about about events in the Middle East.

I decided to give a Toastmasters speech about the country of Israel, what it's like, beyond what one reads in the newspaper.
My speech title was Behind the Headlines.

I gathered speech material, all sorts of information about Israeli everyday life, people's occupations, etc.

As I organized this information into a speech, I organized it into 5 categories, each of which could be summarized by one of my words, which were:
  • Education
  • Diversity
  • Innovation
  • Industry
  • Courage

These became the body of my speech.

As part of the introduction, I used a visual aid, a poster where I had written each of the 5 words I planned to use.

I had 5 more posters, each headed by one of the words, followed by my supporting points in "bullet-item" format.

For example, one of them was:


  • Drip Irrigation
  • Solar Energy

This use of posters with the words served another purpose, besides helping to organize my speech.

Since I was still getting over my initial terror of public speaking at that point, the posters served as a handy cheat sheet for me to remember my speech, without my having to use notes.

Janice recalled a speech about the importance of gearing your message to be understandable to your audience.

One of the examples was replying to his boss about a question of the progress on the project he's in charge of. He's putting together a wide area network for his company.

If he had said "We've had problems with the token ring.. .." and proceeded to spiel off computer jargon that most of us at Toastmaster's didn't understand either, the boss would have said 'huh?'

So he gave an update on how his project was going for non computer literate people. He gave a medical example too.

One of the other #6 speeches at our club a few months ago, was about how men and women express similar things differently.

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  • At 4:39 PM, Anonymous Nishant Kasibhatla said…

    Hi John Sleigh,

    Thank you for compiling the ideas in one place. I was searching the internet for some ideas for my Project 4 "How to say it". I could not think of a topic for this project.

    Lucky, that I found your blog. I picked up the idea from Susan:

    Susan advised:
    #1: Talk about somewhere you went on vacation ... that allows you to describe things and scenery and people, with vivid and descriptive words

    And it did work! I was awarded the "Best Speaker" yesterday (9 Oct 2008).

    If you know Susan, pls convey my thanks.


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