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

Project 7: Research a Topic

in March 2006, MS was unable to find a topic that met the requirements of Project 7 - Research a Topic.

Nigel took a clever way out of this one by giving a speech on how to research a topic. Giving different hints on websites to use, making sure you verify your work, backing up your research and things like that. It was well received especially by my evaluator.
This really isn't a difficult project, it only has two objectives. First you need to collect information from your sources. What you want to speak about will be determined by your audience and what interests then.

Would they like to save money on their electric bill? You can talk about the different cost savings with deregulation (if it has happened) and how switching to 'green' energy can cut down on pollution, you can tell your audience how much is generated by coal and oil burning power generation as opposed to nuclear and 'reusable' energy such as using wind or hydroelectric generators.

Maybe you have a group of people who are mainly running their own business. Talk about the economy, what impact small business have in the local and global economy, talk about consumer trends and how it affects the stock market etc.

Maybe you have older people in your group towards retirement age, they would probably value information on how to keep active and healthy. Not only through proper eating and vitamins (you can mention calcium loss and the importance of strong bones) but also opportunities locally to keep the mind and body active.

Look at the people you're talking to, look at the speeches that you've heard, maybe take a speech and go into more depth, especially if it was one that was enjoyed by the group as a whole.

Colin would
just pick something that interests you. Favorite music, favorite sport, something you collect, an interesting moment from history, your favorite president.

Failing that, look around in the news, and see if a story grabs you, and learn everything there is to know about it.

TracyT had read two books by Richard Zacks titled "The Pirate Coast" and "The Pirate Hunter". I gave my speech about the pirates of the 1600s to 1700s and various bits of trivia about the pirates that I didn't know.

Also, to make it a little more fun, I dressed as a pirate, used a gravelly pirate-like voice and gave the speech as though I had actually been a pirate living in that time period.

Give it on any topic that you know about or are interested in knowing about. One guy in our club gave it on homebrewing. Another club member gave hers on how to research a subject and provide proper documentation of sources and such.

Maybe you could just goto and click the "random article" link until a subject popped up that interested you. Then begin researching it right there at Wikipedia.

John F explained
The purpose of the project is to learn to support the points made in your talk with something other than persona opinion and experience.

I recently did this project for fifth CTM, and talked about the increased energy efficiency in modern refrigerators when compared with ones manufactured 20 years ago. Among my sources of information were the Energuide labels on the insides of the refrigerators.

Suppose you are going on a Carribean cruise for a vacation. You could talk about that, and use material from the cruise line's brochure to talk about the trip, the ports of call, and some of the expected shipboard activities.

Suppose you have an interest in a topic like the American Civil War. You could draw an material from books and magazine articles on the topic.

Maybe you have a hobby like electronics. You could talk about the properties of an operational amplifier circuit or a transistor amplifier, or even how a transistor works. [You'd get extra points from me as an evaluator, of course, if you discussed the use of the Fleming valve in tube circuits ;) ]

While you could do research on the influence of JS Bach's use of C Minor triads in second inverson on the music of Ludwig van Beethoven, you don't need to do something worthy of a dissertaion for a Doctorate of Music degree to get credit for a Toastmasters manual project.

What you do need to do is pick a topic that interests you, and support your points with something taken from sources other than your own personal opinion. And as I've suggested above, the sources don't need to be dusty tomes borrowed from the local library or exotic websites found on the Internet.

Rod highlighted the importance of referencing the sources, whatever they may be.

This has something in common with dissertations and theses although, as you point out, the sources don't need the same degree of authority. Simply making a statement without a reference is little different from offering a personal opinion. Indeed, without a reference, that's all it is.

Rick found it hard to come up with meaningful topics without knowing you or even where you are.

In the US, congress has decided that everyone will switch to digital TV by just after the basketball playoffs in 2009. * How is DTV different than current analog TV? * What about people with analog TVs? * Why?

Toastmasters is in the process of rolling out a new educational system. How is it different and what happens to people working on the current program?

Tracy mentioned * What are the pusses & minuses in using it for research? * What's a Wiki?

Many areas in the Northern US have legends about Paul Bunyan. (Other areas have other legends.) You could find and put together a set of tall tails about Paul Bunyan. You would rather have a more serious speech. I've researched Danial Boone, stories of ship wrecks in the Great Lakes and a haunted light house on the Oregon coast.

The US government has come out with a new food pyramid. Why is it better?

There has been article on search engines in China presenting different information than they present in the rest of the world. A related topic is the "Great Firewall of China".

Do you have children? Lead can have a tremendous affect on children. What are the biggest sources in your area? The library, books stores and Scout shop have many books on crafts and games for children.

Do you have any factual books on your book shelf that you have been meaning to read? Walk though the library or books store and find something that interests you.

In an earlier edition of the manual, project 9 was "Speak with Knowledge." These tips from November 1998 may also suit:

Nutrition and health
Distance education
Differences in brain structure and function between men and women
Mushrooms - edible and poisonous
Sleep apnea (snoring)
Retirement planning, or anything related to recent changes in tax law
Sports psychology

...traits you have improved and how you use them have used Toastmasters skills at work/at finding work/at landing a job you time management skills have improved your evaluation skills have improved your leadership skills have improved to run an effective meeting (if you do this one, don't be late for the meeting!) to develop a successful speech
...what you know now that you wished you would have known as new member
...what you wanted to accomplish in Toastmasters and how you much you have accomplished toward that goal
...what you think your club can do to help new members

Ideas outside Toastmasters:
Why you like (food/game/drink/book)
What your goals in life are and how you are accomplishing them
Why you admire (person, living or dead)
Why you love your pet
Chris' Travel Guide of (your town, city, shire, UK)
Chris' Travel Guide of B&B in the Area
The History Shown on the back of Pound Notes (L5 and up)
How the Computer Has Helped/Hurt Me

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  • At 12:50 AM, Blogger Erich Viedge said…

    Our IPP Louise Howell has written a fantasic article on how to decide on speech topics. It's on the Toastmasters wiki at . Please will you consider adding the wiki as a link on your (excellent) blog?

    Erich Viedge, Area Governor H3-74, ACB.

  • At 1:10 AM, Blogger John said…

    Thanks for the link. It is now in the sidebar.


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