So you have a subject for your speech. One word, maybe. What now?
You know what you want to achieve with this presentation but you’re stuck, trying to find powerful ideas and material that will give your subject life. Yes?
Where will you find the stimulus to develop your ideas?
The answers could just be right under your nose, right there in your daily life.
Here are five ordinary places that will yield up gems to make you and your presentation remembered, repeated and getting results. That’s why I used the word “easy” in the title of this article – the material is all around you.
Things that you do and see and say and think every day will provide that material. It’s just a case of articulating what you want to achieve and then of deliberately looking in these places with that aim in mind.
The thing that makes this not so easy is knowing what to look for.
The first is the information. This involves ideas, stories, facts, case studies, statistics – all of the items you will use to present the main parts of your speech.
The second is themes within those facts and ideas – commonalities, recurring nuggets of information that fit into a theme. These themes may be the main pints of your presentation, or one of them may be the source of your single message.
The third is opinions. And it may be, with this in mind, that you find the things that will give your speech something extra special, that will make it “catchy” – remembered, repeated and getting results.
They may provide humor.
They may help you articulate your passionate view point on the topic.
They may give you something that will stir up opinions or discussion in your audience.
They may also uncover trends in your subject area – places where people are fighting the status quo.
Keep these three areas – information, themes and opinions – in the back of your mind as you open that mind to what is going on around you.
1. On the internet. Obviously! Enjoy your surfing, but let it wander along the lines of the main aim of your speech. You may, in fact, be taken into different directions, to discover even better ideas and themes. Follow links that look interesting or promising. Use search engines, and include databases and blogs in your searches and surfing. Search TED talks and YouTube. These will give you the themes and information you need. They will also give you opinions and ideas about trends, and the links will lead you to other opinions, and sources of support material.
2. In Books. You are reading already. Just look at the books in the light of your speech. Think about books you have read in the past, and how they might relate to your themes and points. Allow yourself to be drawn to the books on your subject. Search online suppliers like Amazon. Scour the local library – reference books, fiction and non-fiction. When you are browsing the bookshops and second-hand book suppliers, again, keep you speech ideas in the front of your mind and books will leap out of the piles to lead you to things you can use.
3. In Magazines. Again, you are reading these already. Look at them from the slant of your speech. And look with new eyes at the racks in the newsagents, the library and the train stations. If you are speaking regularly, you will develop the habit of collecting material on your subject areas – articles from magazines or the internet, quotes, sayings and anecdotes. Keep a paper file of notes and save useful websites in your favourites file, Evernote or a tagging system like del.icio.us.
4. From People. Talk with them about the subject of your speech in your ordinary conversation and you will get all sorts of opinions and information. You cannot interview a website or book for clarification or for a quirky perspective that just might give you the winning angle on a topic.
5. From Your own experiences. Using your own life and its stories is one of the most powerful tools of public speaking. Use humorous or poignant anecdotes. Find experiences that have affected you or your friends to support points in your presentation. Again, you can look back to the past for examples. But looking at your life and the lives of the people you know and see and interact with through the lens of your speech will bring out all sorts of relevant and thought-provoking material.
There are so many places that will yield up brilliant ideas for a speech. It’s just a case of looking – while you are surfing the net, while you are in the library or reading magazines, while you are chatting, and at life in general, and being open to ideas and themes and opinions on the subject. Create a strong picture of where you might go with the speech and let it lead you on. You natural creativity will use all of these sources to put together a great presentation.