How to Come Up With Creative Themes for a Toastmasters Meeting

Creative themes for Toastmasters meetings can spark ideas for engaging speeches
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Adding a theme to a Toastmasters meeting is a way to invigorate the group and inspire members as they seek to improve their public speaking skills. Try different approaches for generating creative themes for your club gatherings.

1 Have Fun!

Public speaking can be a scary thing for many people, so add some levity to the meeting. If you need inspiration, watch some kids at a playground and see what gives them joy. Possible themes that might be generated from this exercise: “The beauty of imagination,” “Getting to the top of life’s jungle gym,” and “How to recover from getting sand kicked in your face.”

Costumes can also make a meeting playful, so think of themes that will allow members to dress up, such as “Wild West,” “Game of Thrones” and “Sports Fans.”

2 Look at the Calendar

Choosing a theme that’s timed with an upcoming holiday, season or special event is a quick way to come up with a meeting theme: “New Year’s resolutions,” “My funny Valentine,” “How to make an Earth Day difference all year-round,” or even, “The Academy Award for best acting in a real-life situation goes to ...” When you’re looking at the calendar, don’t forget to keep an eye out for lesser-known holidays that will help spark interesting speeches from your members, such as Administrative Professionals’ Day, Grandparents' Day and National Ice Cream Day.

3 What's New(s)

Current events can provide fresh ideas. Open a newspaper; turn on broadcast news; or go to an online news site to see what people are talking about. Look past the individual story and ask yourself why this news story provokes an emotional response; the answer is your theme. For example, a story about “the worst cities for traffic in America,” inspires the theme, “Things that drive me crazy.” Similarly, an article about a professional athlete having a career revival may suggest that a “making a comeback,” theme has wide appeal.

4 Keep It Simple

Sometimes the most creative speeches come from a word or phrase that has broad meaning or evokes a certain mood. To keep it interesting, consult a thesaurus. Swap overused words such as, “inspire,” “challenge” and “success” to create themes, for example: “becoming emboldened,” “an unexpected predicament” and “a time of triumph.” Avoid obscure words. Whereas "grit" or "pluck" might be good synonyms for "bravery," lesser-used words such as "intrepidity" or "gallantry" might confuse your audience.

Bonnie Eslinger has written stories that have been published in the San Jose Mercury News, Contra Costa Times and the Palo Alto Daily News where she also coordinated the newspaper's social media engagement. Her professional career also includes stints as an entertainment publicist and special event planner. She recently moved to the Greater Los Angeles Area.