Have you ever found yourself at a loss for the topic of your next speech?
If so, you’re not alone. Being stymied trying to come up with a topic for their next speech is a problem common to almost all Toastmasters at some time in their speaking careers.
I’d like to share a suggestion that I guarantee will help you break out of a creative rut any time you run up against this problem – try using a prop.
Yes, I know that some Toastmasters recommend holding off on props until the member gains some comfort in front of their audience. And yes, I know that some Toastmasters consider the effective use of props to be ‘advanced’ skill. With all due respect to those Toastmasters, I say ‘bull!’ The right prop can elevate both the speaker and the speech, even when the speaker is brand new, and even when the speech is the member’s Ice Breaker.
Take a few moments and look around the room you’re sitting in right now. As your eyes shift from object to object, think about the how, when, and why that object occupies its space. If it was a gift, from whom did it come, and why? If it was something you bought on a trip or vacation, where were you and what had you make the purchase? If your current surroundings don’t provide sufficient inspiration, try moving to another room and continue looking.
Almost everyone’s life is replete with objects that trigger memories and stories. Pick one up, hold it in your hand, and examine it from all sides. What comes to mind? How are you feeling? You now have the beginnings of a speech. Reveal the prop at the start of your speech and it will serve to keep you focused and give you something to do with your hands. Keep the prop hidden until your conclusion, and you can create an aura of suspense throughout the entire speech. You can weave the prop in and out of your speech in countless ways. Let your imagination run wild.
The next time you’re at a loss for words, remember this old maxim: ‘A picture, or even better, the real thing, is worth a thousand words.’
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