Friday, January 28, 2011

How to select a speech topic

One of our distinguished Toastmasters came across an article from Dee Dees, the past International Director of Toastmasters International, and felt this would really help Toastmasters select topics when they can't think of something to speak on.

It's easy to sit down and spend plenty of time thinking about what you can talk on. Little do you know the potential for topics that are all around you!

This post will help you find those topics so that you're idea tank is never running on empty again!

Enjoy! And a big thank you to Dee for creating such a helpful piece of content for Toastmasters all across the globe.


Finding Topics from Your Life:

(Jot down your own ideas for each project)

#1 - Icebreaker (about you - general)
#2 - Organize Your Speech (broad enough for any topic)
#3 - Get to the Point (inform, persuade, entertain, inspire, be specific)
#4 - How to Say It (select right word, eliminate jargon)
#5 - Your Body Speaks (stance, movement, gestures, facial expressions)
#6 - Vocal Variety (volume, pitch, rate, pauses)
#7 - Research Your Topic (use facts, examples, illustrations you’ve gathered)
#8 - Get Comfortable with Visual Aids (appropriate for topic, use correctly)
#9 - Persuade with Power (use logic & emotion, persuade audience)
#10 - Inspire Your Audience (appeal to needs & emotions, challenge audience)

Look Around You for Topics:

(Jot down your own ideas)
Your purse/wallet
Personal observations
Magazine/newspaper articles
Locale (Your space, building, city, state, province, country)
World events

Painless Preparation, Practice & Presentation

• Secret trick:____________________
• Simple outline (O-123-C)
• Mind mapping your topic
• Use lots of stories and antecdotes
• Write it out in full
• Reduce to index cards

• Secret tool:____________________
• Tape record yourself reading it with feeling
• Listen to the “perfect” version
• Edit and re-record if necessary
• Listen to the taped speech regularly
• Review the key words on your index cards
• Practice in “clumps”
• Don’t try to memorize word for word, just remember the concepts

• Secret friend:__________________
• If you need notes, use them judiciously

Prepared: You will be if you...
• Take your manual to every meeting
• Keep note cards & reference material for each speech in your TM binder

Life Topics
  • Achievements
  • Accidents
  • Adult education
  • Ambtions
  • Ancestors
  • Attitude
  • Bad habits
  • Beliefs & Values
  • Best friends
  • Burnout
  • Careers & Jobs
  • Camping
  • Caregiving
  • Causes you believe in
  • Challenges
  • Changes seen/experienced
  • Childhood (yours)
  • Children
  • Christmas
  • Close calls
  • Close encounters (celebrities, etc)
  • Courage
  • Culture
  • Dating
  • Decisions
  • Diets
  • Education
  • Embarrassing moments
  • Entertainment
  • Entrepreneurship
  • Exercise
  • Experiences
  • Fame
  • Family
  • Favorites (flower, music, etc)
  • First love
  • Fitness
  • Friends
  • Gardening
  • Geneaology
  • Goals
  • Grandchildren
  • Health
  • Helping others
  • Hiking
  • Hobbies
  • Home town
  • Hopes & dreams
  • How to... (anything)
  • Immigration (you, parents, etc?)
  • Insights
  • Jobs
  • Keepsakes
  • Lessons Learned
  • Marriage
  • Military service
  • Mistakes
  • Parenting
  • People you’ve known
  • Personal growth
  • Personality
  • Pets
  • Philosophy
  • Raising children
  • Recognition
  • Retirement
  • Running a business
  • Second thoughts
  • Special Occasions
  • Special Interests
  • Spirituality
  • Sports
  • Successes
  • Traditions
  • Travel
  • Volunteering
  • What motivates you
  • Where were you when...
  • Words of Wisdom (for others)

As a reminder to anyone else who is in the Winnipeg area and would like to attend a UM Masters meeting, just let us know! There doesn't have to be an open house to just sit in on a meeting. Come in and experience a Toastmasters club in Winnipeg located at the University of Manitoba!

We look forward to seeing you!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A peek into a Toastmasters open house in Winnipeg

Yesterday afternoon was the Open House at UM Masters!

The theme for the meeting was Lighten Up! Members and guests in our Toastmasters semiannual Open House shared many different ways they were lightening up their lives in 2011.   Laughter filled the room when Anna described her alter ego “Anxiety Girl” who emerges when she gets overloaded. 

The speech, on a cold Winnipeg afternoon, was “Fear Lurks in the Darkness" by Bev Doern. It is a Research Your Topic presentation from the Competent Communicator manual. Bev illustrated with stories how powerful fear can be – how the primitive brain assesses each threat it faces based on previous experiences (stored on old tapes – older than 8-tracks).  Our job is to update those threat assessments.  Bev shared an exercise from Neuro-Linguistic programming (NLP) that can anchor a different cellular memory to help with this.  

Table topics gave members the opportunity to speak on their feet on the theme of lightening up.  Our visiting Area Governor Bonnie Taylor braved the cold Winnipeg streets to attend and applauded the meeting, making note of Dianne and Cathy’s evaluations.  They were specific and encouraging while still giving people ways they could improve.  

Jose, a guest, thought the meeting was highly entertaining and was glad he could take part.  It was a great way to lighten up the week!

As a reminder to anyone else who is in the Winnipeg area and would like to attend a UM Masters meeting, just let us know! There doesn't have to be an open house to just sit in on a meeting. Come in and experience a Toastmasters club in Winnipeg located at the University of Manitoba!

We look forward to seeing you!

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

How to grab the attention of your audience

Let's face it, attention spans are short and to have a great speech you should be able to hold the audiences attention from start to finish.
The question is, how do we do this? Here are a few great tips for maintaining the attention of your audience.
  • After you have created your talk, go through it and make sure that every 2 minutes you use some kind of attention gaining tactic. This could be clapping your hands or using some sort of body movement.
  • Make use of inflection in your voice
  • Show a visual or hold up a prop
  • Move around the room
  • Tell a story
  • Pose a questions to the audience
  • Make use of silence to break up the rhythm of your speech. Pauses are a great technique to grab attention

Becoming a great public speaker should have you incorporate many of these devices in your speech. Challenge yourself and attempt to use at least one device every minute of your speech. If you are doing a speech for 5 minutes try using 5 devices. The more you try them out, the easier they will come to you naturally. 

Give it a shot the next time you have to do a speech or even when you're participating in table topics!

And most importantly, HAVE FUN WITH IT!

If you would like to try out some of these techniques, we'd love to have you participate in one of our meetings! We're a Toastmasters Winnipeg club located at the University of Manitoba. Our meetings are held every Wednesday from 12:05 –12:50 PM in Room 111 at St. John’s College (which is part of the University of Manitoba).

If you're in Winnipeg and interested in sitting in on a club meeting to see if Toastmasters is right for you, please feel free to contact Beverley Doern at

Monday, January 10, 2011

Open House at UM Masters!

On Wednesday, January 19 at the University of Manitoba, UM Masters will be holding an open house!

The open house will be from 12:05-12:50 p.m. in Room 111 at St. John's College. Everyone is welcome to just come and sit in and experience our club in action! Of course, if you wish to participate, we certainly will not stop you!

This is a great opportunity for anyone in Winnipeg to come and check out a Toastmasters meeting in action.

Be prepared to see a club of enthusiastic Toastmasters take part in one of the most efficient meetings in Winnipeg! We keep it short and efficient but you also walk away learning a great deal whether you participate or not.

Once again, if you're in the Winnipeg area, we look forward to seeing some fresh faces come out next Wednesday!

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Ten Tips for Successful Public Speaking

Feeling some nervousness before giving a speech is natural and healthy. It shows you care about doing well. But, too much nervousness can be detrimental. Here's how you can control your nervousness and make effective, memorable presentations. 

1. Know the room. Be familiar with the place in which you will speak. Arrive early,walk around the speaking area and practice using the microphone and any visual aids.

2. Know the audience. Greet some of the audience as they arrive. It's easier to speak to a group of friends than to a group of strangers.

3. Know your material. If you're not familiar with your material or are uncomfortable with it, your nervousness will increase. Practice your speech and revise if necessary.

4. Relax. Ease tension by doing exercises.

5. Visualize yourself giving your speech. Imagine yourself speaking, your voice loud, clear, and assured. When you visualize yourself as successful, you will be successful.

6. Realize that people want you to succeed. Audiences want you to be interesting, stimulating, informative, and entertaining. They don't want you to fail.

7. Don't apologise. If you mention your nervousness or apologise for any problems you think you have with your speech, you may be calling the audiences's attention to something they hadn't noticed. Keep silent.

8. Concentrate on the message -- not the medium. Focus your attention away from your own anxieties, and outwardly toward your message and your audience. Your nervousness will dissipate.

9. Turn nervousness into positive energy. Harness your nervous energy and transform it into vitality and enthusiasm.

10. Gain experience. Experience builds confidence, which is the key to effective speaking. A Toastmasters club can provide the experience you need.

If you want to learn how to become a better public speaker/communicator feel free to sit in on one of our UM Masters meetings, a Toastmasters club in Winnipeg at the University of Manitoba.

A Toastmasters club at the University of Manitoba

Welcome to the UM Masters blog!

Our club decided to build a blog so that we could better communicate updates, information, personal bios and club activities.

Our Toastmasters club meets at the University of Manitoba in Winnipeg every Wednesday from 12:05 to 12:50 at St. John's College (Room 111) in the University of Manitoba.

UM Masters has a diverse array of members from experienced, award-winning Toastmasters to brand new Toastmasters. Our club is made up of students and professionals from all around Winnipeg.

If you're in Winnipeg and interested in sitting in on a club meeting to see if Toastmasters is right for you, please feel free to contact Beverley Doern at

Weclome to UM Masters

Welcome to UM Masters,

UM Masters, a Toastmasters club in Winnipeg, has a long and celebrated history of helping people develop confidence in their speaking and improve their listening, thinking and speaking skills. We continually encourage and support one another to be the best that we can be.

Our District theme this year is "The Power of One" as we have learnt that one person can change people's lives. As President of UM Masters this year, I have chosen as my theme "Be the Best that You Can Be".

With a dedicated executive, I am confident that our club will once again excel in achieving the highest status as a President's Distinguished club.

Ralph Smedley, founder of Toastmasters International once said "we learn best in moments of enjoyment". I always come away from our noon meeting inspired and full of enthusiasm. I have made many friends along my journey in Toastmasters and look forward to many more moments of enjoyment.

Be the Best that You Can Be

Dianne Boulay
President, 2010-2011