Do you need to give a speech in less than an hour? This method works...

So, you need to come up with a Toastmasters speech and you have less than an hour to pull it off? That's okay, you don't have to panic and you don't have to cancel. If you follow these simple steps, you will put together a decent speech in a very short time.

The easiest way for you to speak to an audience is if you are discussing a topic you are interested in and comfortable talking about. Start off by making a list of at least five different topics that interest you. Don't worry about whether or not the audience will be interested; often times audience members become interested because the speaker displays interest and excitement in the topic.

You probably can recall a time you heard someone talk about something you weren't familiar with or interested in, but that person's interest in talking about it made the topic seem more interesting. Simply list the first things that come to mind. For example, list something related to some of your hobbies and the things you like about your job. Even if you hate everything about your job, there is something that you like to do or thank about at work that isn't related to your job. Whatever the case, put that in your list.

Next, you need to start searching for sources of information on the topics in your list. If you have the internet, then it will be easy typing in the specific keyword(s) in your search. Make sure you use no more than two or three words to start. As you see the results, you will probably get more specific ideas to help you frame what you want to talk about. Again, make sure you are picking topics that interest you.

If you don't have internet access, then refer to the books, magazines, newspapers, or other printed material you have. Chances are that you will have something in print around you that you can use -- even it is work-related magazines at your job. You just need to be patient... and persistent. A set of encyclopedias -- regardless of its age -- is ideal for this type of project and will come in very handy. When all else fails, use your memory and write down as many relevant details that you can to create your speech. IF you go for quantity instead of quality during your brainstorming, then you'll come up with enough material to splice and edit into an appropriate speech.

Since you don't have very much time to prepare for this speech, you will have a much easier time talking about a topic that you WANT to talk about, rather than something you THINK people will want to hear.

Your tone of voice and speech delivery will be smoother and more inviting if you stick to talking about something you know about better. Speakers tend to appear less interesting when they are talking about information they don't know as much about. You need to appear as an authority on your subject. For example, let's say you have a job doing data entry -- something you don't love, and you love eating pizza for lunch. You're going to be a much more interesting speaker if you are talking about your experiences eating pizza than if you talked about doing data entry. When you start to compare topics you will find it easier to narrow your list to the area you are most comfortable with.

Once you pick your subject, you need to make a list of three or four points of why you are discussing this topic. To help you decide, complete the following sentence: Today I am going to talk to you about __ because it is _, and , and .

If you decide you want to talk about eating pizza, then you need to make an affirmation that you are going to support with examples. An example would be, "I am here to tell you that eating pizza is actually good for you because 1) It takes away your hunger, 2) Gives you something to look forward to when you're doing your job, and 3) It puts you in a good mood before going back to work.

Since most Toastmaster speeches are around five minutes, you don't need to pick more than four points, or else you will be cramming too much information, or you'll talk too fast in order to avoid running over your time limit. Three topics is a satisfactory amount because it's enough to reaffirm your main point (or thesis) and you can spend enough time discussing three points, while allowing some room for you pause and give listeners a chance to reflect on your most important comments. Make sure your three points are relevant to each other. For example, if you are talking about eating pizza, you want to avoid talking about other types of food or other restaurants unless you are contrasting and comparing them to your pizza experience. Each point has to support your main point.

Once you devise your main point and supporting points, write an outline listing the steps. Try using the following format: A. Introduce your topic 1. State your main point about this topic 2. List the three points that support your main point 3. Tell the audience that when you're finished speaking, they will agree with you. B. State supporting point #1 1. Talk about it's benefits 2. Talk about how it supports your main point 3. Transition into your 2nd supporting point C. State supporting point #2 1. Talk about it's benefits 2. Talk about how it supports your main point 3. Transition into your 3rd supporting point D. State supporting point #3 1. Talk about it's benefits 2. Talk about how it supports your main point 3. Transition into your summary E. Summarize your main point and key points 1. Say something like, "This --- is --- because of #1 ---, #2 ---, and #3---. Therefore, you will benefit from this and ---- (reflect on other possible beneficial outcomes. F. Closing your speech 1. Tell the audience you are glad to have spoken about this to them 2. Tell them that as they experience (or learn more about it) perhaps they too will feel the same was as you 3. Express optimism about others having a similar experience overall.

After you complete your outline, study the main parts. You're not going to be able to rehearse the speech, so don't put long, complete sentences on your notes. You may have a little time to think of a catchy opening, funny statement, or a closing that's on target, but if you don't have time, then don't sweat it. If you wanted a perfect speech, then you wouldn't have procrastinated or accepted the Toastmaster's request for you to fill in. Remember, Toastmasters is about being able to master the art of speaking, and that includes being unprepared and still being able to "wing it." After all, your primary goal is to use your vocal variety, body movement and confidence to present a coherent speech. Once you succeed in putting together a last minute speech, you will find you are more confident and better organized the next time you do a speech. Just go for it and have some fun!