5 Lessons I learned From The Toastmasters Speaking To Inform Manual


“Real knowledge is to know the extent of one’s ignorance.”



I had the pleasure recently of completing a series of speeches from the “Speaking To Inform” manual as part of my Toastmasters advanced speaking program. This process taught me a lot about giving speeches where you had to share new information with your audience.

One of the main lessons I learned was that sharing information with an audience of different backgrounds and subject knowledge can be difficult. You are essentially trying to give a ”one size fits all” speech to a diverse audience.

I learned the following five major lessons in the process:


1.Keep Your Content Relevant


Even with diverse audiences you can find some common ground. Think about your audience and what common similarities they share and base your speech around this. For example in a speech where I had to demonstrate a photographic technique I choose to do it on a camera phone. After all most people have a smart phone and even if  people are not photographers they are interested in knowing something extra they can do with their phone.
So find the part of your subject matter that will be relevant to your audience and concentrate on sharing information in that area. This technique works for storytelling, speeches and creating video content.


2.Keep Your Content Interesting


We all have attended speeches where the speaker just lost our attention. Nobody sets out to give a boring speech it just happens because they have not thought about their subject delivery enough. You need to plan your speech with strong interest points in mind such as funny jokes, humorous stories, captivating subject insights and regular dramatic content.


3.Keep Your Visual Material Relevant


Visual content can be tricky to incorporate into speech. Sometimes speeches are just a series of clever amusing slides that do not support your main purpose. Your slides need to be quality images that support your main purpose and do not distract from your speeches’ purpose. Always look at your audience and do not deliver your speech to your slides.


4.Keep Your Facts Simple


When speaking about a technical subject it is easy to get caught up in the complex facts you are trying to explain. What you have to remember is that you are rarely giving a speech to an audience who are familiar with your subject matter. It is more likely you will be talking to a multidiscipline audience, which requires you explain your facts simply. It is not about dumbing down your content it is about explaining it so everyone can understand it.

Even the most complex abstract concepts can be explained if you use language and examples that anyone can understand. Even Einstein was able to explain relativity in simple layman terms when he felt his audience needed it.


5.Show Your Passion For Your Subject


Make no mistake your subject passion is what sells your speech. Passion is infectious and your audience becomes more interested in your speech when they see it is a subject that matters a lot to you.

Let your audience see early on how much you care about your subject matter and why it should be important to them. Unfortunately it is unlikely you will be able to fake passion when speaking, so choose a subject you really care about to speak about.


“Where is all the knowledge we lost with information?”

T. S. Eliot

The speaking to inform manual is all about sharing information with your audience. Speaking in a way that educates your audience about a diverse array of information. In the process I have learned about the importance of understanding who your audience are and making your subject matter relevant to their lives.