Toastmasters International is a network of thousands of clubs whose members learn speaking and leadership skills in a mutually supportive environment. Members receive designations based on completion of structured speaking assignments. Members receive their first designation, Competent Communicator, after completing 10 speeches. The third speech, called "Get to the Point," must center on one specific topic. However, the speaker can choose from broad themes that inform, entertain and inspire the audience.
Informative speeches inform, educate or train the audience on one or more topics. Andrew Dlugan, a Canadian Toastmaster and founder of the public speaking resource site "Six Minutes," did his third speech on the benefits of reading aloud to a child. His other informative speech examples include the characteristics of the reading/writing disorder known as dyslexia and fund-raising techniques. Use a Toastmasters meeting to practice a speech required at work, such as a technical briefing for senior management or a marketing presentation for a new product launch. Experienced Toastmaster Tammy A. Miller writes that speech topics are everywhere: Even using a computer or a cell phone could turn into an informative third speech.
Entertain does not mean doing stand-up comedy or one-act plays. Telling the story of a recent trip overseas can form the basis of an entertaining third speech, as could the retelling of your feelings when your child first learned to speak. The day you met your spouse, the first day at college or why you find it so difficult to avoid eating an entire bag of chips are all possible entertaining speech ideas. Miller suggests "The Joys of Potty Training" and "Why Do Dogs Have Owners but Cats Have Servants?" If you have to deliver an after-dinner toast at a retirement party, use the third speech to get feedback from your Toastmaster colleagues.
The ninth and 10th speeches center on persuading and inspiring the audience. These speeches tend to be more difficult because they require the integration of different technical elements. However, you can use real-life experiences and construct an inspiring or persuasive third speech. Dee Dees, another experienced Toastmaster, suggests talking about the experience of raising a special-needs child, caring for a sick relative or serving in the military. Miller suggests "Life Lessons My Children Have Taught Me" and learning about a serious illness from a doctor. Dlugan cites several examples, including celebrating embarrassing moments or convincing audience members to try out wine tasting.
Toastmasters speeches usually span six to seven minutes in length. Speakers are not expected to have mastered all the elements of speech construction and style by their third speech. Outline the main objective in about a minute, elaborate on two or three main points for four to five minutes and close by reiterating the importance of the topic. Subsequent speeches will incorporate various elements of technique, such as eye contact and gestures. Relax and pay attention to evaluations from the members in attendance.
Based in Ottawa, Canada, Chirantan Basu has been writing since 1995. His work has appeared in various publications and he has performed financial editing at a Wall Street firm. Basu holds a Bachelor of Engineering from Memorial University of Newfoundland, a Master of Business Administration from the University of Ottawa and holds the Canadian Investment Manager designation from the Canadian Securities Institute.