The Assignment Executive Summary
Fact finding reports are used to present information your audience need to make a good decisions. Keep the report focussed, explain the sources of your information, present the facts clearly and quickly. Close with recommendations for action. Often these reports will be followed by a question-and-answer session, so anticipate possible questions and prepare your answers beforehand.
- Prepare a report on a situation, event, or problem of interet to the audience.
- Deliver sufficient factual information in your report so that the audience can make valid conclusions or a sound decisions.
- Answer questions from the audience.
Time: Five to seven minutes for the speech, and two to three minutes for the questions-and answer period.
Speech Topics: Creating and beating the paradox of choice
How do you find a speech topic? A common way of finding a speech topic starts many week in advance when there is loads of time to do nothing at all. A week out you might be ready to start but notice the skirting boards need cleaning. Three days out you decide, philosophically to ponder the unfathomable depths. A day out and you really need to sleep on it one more time. uuurgh what the hell are you going to talk about tonight.
You wing it with regrets, wimp out, or ghost out.
Mr Toastmaster, fellow toastmasters, and most welcome Guests I am going to show you that to bring home a speech topic you need to break down the steps involved and build in a little help.
Choosing is about searching and then selecting
Searching comes in two main ways. It can be systematic or it can be random. I recently attended a Seminar in Dublin by Simon Scriver who gave two great examples of doing.
The systematic method he calls Speech Circles. Starting with the inner layer you bullet out what comes to mind. You often don’t have to go far before interesting statements start appearing.
The other method is random or serendipity. The website and search engines can be a boon for this. Take Wikipaedia for example. It gives you a daily set of featured articles and allows you to fetch pages at random.
Allow you curiosity to wander and see the world through innocent eyes. Keep a notebook of ideas to capture those ephemeral sparks of inspiration
If you see the world through the eyes of a child then the world is rich and wild…If you see the world through the eyes of a child then the world is rich and wild.
Selecting your topic
Having sought we must now select.
The best advice for this comes from the Toastmasters better Speaker Series educational talk number 5 “Selecting Your Topic”. Simply put your best topics will be ones that you know alot about and both you and your audience care alot about. The more you care the more passion there will be in your talk and it will begin to come to life.
It really is an audience centric process at this stage.
In the words of Sun Tzu If you know your enemies and know yourself, you will not be imperiled in a hundred battles. You will not be imperiled if you know you audience and know yourself.
However, it seems too simple when it is broken down to a process. It is deceptive because it is possible to be literally spoilt for choice and the psychological costs of sorting out all the choice soon out weight any benefits.
This is Barry Schwartz’s Paradox of Choice. The reason it is so deadly is the psychological costs of sacrifice are at least twice as significant as those of gain. Your regret of giving topics up exceeds the benefit of the choice you make. You dither
We need to build in help. We have already broken the process down and we can get help from friends and mentors. What we can really do to beat procrastination is the burn or burn technique. Get a wall planner and for every speech you commit to pin a crisp bank note. The contract is if you don’t deliver that speech you will burn that money.
Fifty pounds says you have nothing to lose if you choose…That is Fifty pounds says you have nothing to lose if you choose.
Finding your speech topic needs you to search systematically or randomly. It then needs you to select based on aligning your audiences needs with your knowledge and passion. To do all of this smoothly you need to learn to precrastinate and build in help from mentors and money.
The simple message is: break it down, build in help, bring home the speech. Let you and I say that again break it down, build in help, bring home the speech!
Reflections & Feedback
I really enjoyed pulling together this topic from various sources. I’ve probably forgotten what a struggle finding a speech topic can be. However, I’ve not forgotten how to procrastinate and it all helps keep the process moving . On balance, I probably did the delivery less justice than it deserved by tinkering with the content and not practicing the speech. I think I really need to be careful when i am planning to acto out and dramatice material -it is not a natural forte.
- Great content structure and delivery
- Very valuable and informative topic
- Good quotes and catch phrases to make the points
- Comfortable with some rather vague questions which were handled positively
- Don’t give a talk and suck a throat sweet as you mumble
- Slides were not queued well with the speech. Practice the gadgetry
- Bring the method to life more with your own examples
- Need to ensure the Toastmaster of the Evening and the Evaluator were properly briefed to chair the Q&A session.
- Watch offensiveness – jokes about hair loss, expletives, sexual references
- Clumsy introduction not aided by an opaque Title