How to Create a Speech in One Hour

Create a Speech in one hour Toastmasters 101

How to Create a Speech in One Hour? Impossible?  Not at all.

I gave 3 speeches in 20 hours last week. I’d mention the clubs by name, but that’s not ideal because – they had empty slots to let me speak. That’s not a good thing. The reason I heard for a meeting that had no speaker but me? No one has time to prep a speech to give at the meeting.

So I’ll let those clubs remain anonymous for now and talk instead about the problem they face: an empty agenda of prepared speakers.


Are you willing to commit an hour a week to improve your personal life and your career?

Welcome to Toastmasters – where in about an hour a week, we can teach you public speaking and leadership skills. You will change your life as you improve your communication skills and discover the leader inside you. This is Toastmasters 101. I’m your host, Kim Krajci.

The Biggest Corporate Club Problem

An agenda without a prepared speaker is a common problem for corporate clubs. It’s hard to think about getting up in front of co-workers – or worse, bosses – and maybe blowing a speech.

“I just don’t have time… my department is short-staffed, it’s the end of the year, and I can’t spend the time on a speech.”

It’s my opinion that you don’t need to spend more than one hour on a Toastmasters 5 to 7-minute speech. Yes, that’s what I said. Create a speech in one hour.

“Yeah, but Kim, you’re a DTM. You can do it faster than I can. I’ve only been in Toastmasters for 3 years.”

Yes, I understand your fears. But you need to understand it’s not about how long I’ve been a Toastmaster – it’s about your commitment.

Why did you join Toastmasters? If you’re not giving speeches, are you getting out of it what you wanted or needed when you joined?

This is not to discourage you and try to convince you to quit – NOT AT ALL. This is about helping you figure out how to do it smarter and faster. Today’s podcast is about the hacks your fellow Toastmasters use to create a speech in less than one hour.

Write a Speech in 1 Hour Hack #1

I spoke with Scott Brown of District 11. I met Scott at their Fall Education Day. He’s a great Toastmaster who demonstrated extraordinary leadership and public speaking skills.

When I asked about how to create a speech in one hour, he said that he rarely spends that long on prep. Then again, he rarely gives a speech in a club that isn’t related to a presentation or project that he’s working on outside Toastmasters. That’s our Hack number 1: talk about something you know and are passionate about.

“Passion makes us competent. You don’t know anyone who’s competent about heart surgery – except heart surgeons. You’re going to be more competent than the majority of people in the Toastmasters club meeting about something you’re passionate about.”

So talk about that passion. Passion makes you comfortable when you may worry that you’re not a good enough speaker. “Passion overcomes the lack of presentation skills,” Scott says. “It builds confidence to improve. You’ll speak more often if you speak about the topics that you’re passionate about.”

Scott will spend about 10 minutes organizing a speech and the intro and closing. Don’t go for a new topic when you’ve only got an hour, he advises. Stick to what you know and can talk comfortably about. The rest of the time, he’ll work to develop the content – the body of the speech. Get those three points clear in your head and work on transitions from one to the next.

Write a Speech in 1 Hour Hack #2

Jenilee Taylor is a past district director of District 10. As a Toastmasters member for over 12 years, Jenilee has given hundreds of speeches. She’s a huge advocate of her little file box of speech ideas.

She thinks that the best speech in one hour prep is to find a story and make it work for you. To do that, she keeps a file of note cards with some ideas on them. She sums up the story and writes down the main emotion of the story on the card.

When she takes the hour to prep, she’ll go through the cards to find the story she wants to tell. She thinks about the emotion she wants her audience to feel and how she wants to leave them when she’s done. What message does she want to pull out of the story?

All speeches need to have a “what’s in it for the audience?” conclusion, Jenilee says.

So our hack number 2 is to create a storage system for speech ideas. Scott Brown has done the same. He has a list of several topics that he can present with little prep time because he knows them so well.

How I do it

I’ve started my own list but mine has a different slant. I’m doing my homework for life.

That’s actually a trademarked name – Homework for Life by Matthew Dicks.  It’s a method of recording one’s life one story at a time. By taking a few minutes at the end of every day to write down anything that may be used as a story or as part of a story, I’m creating a list of potential speech topics.

I love to tell stories. So this method motivates me to do this every day. Jenilee’s card file or Scott’s list – it’s a matter of work to create.

In Matthew’s TED talk, he talks about how hard it is to do this work. You need to have faith that it’s going to be worth it.

Let me ask you this: why did you join Toastmasters? Wasn’t it to change something significant in your life – to overcome your fear of public speaking? Wasn’t it to become a leader? Doesn’t that still motivate you? You’re coming to the meetings but not speaking? Aren’t you giving up the goal by not giving prepared speeches?

Write a Speech in 1 Hour Hack #3

So is the real issue time or is it motivation?
Or is your fear greater than your motivation?

If fear is your problem, there’s only one solution: get up on stage and speak. Make a plan for yourself and ask your mentor to help.

If you don’t have a mentor, ask your vice president of education for one. That’s how it’s supposed to be done, but you could find someone. We all have people we find inspirational – is there someone in your life, even outside of Toastmasters – who might be willing to be your mentor.

There’s something strongly compelling about completing a speech because you don’t want to disappoint your mentor.

Or are you afraid of boring the audience?

In a corporate club, according to Debbie Curtis, past district governor of District 10, telling stories is the way to go with a speech. Debbie’s preferred method of speech prep is 10 minutes of relaxation, 10 minutes of thinking about what’s happened to her recently and then finding a good quotation that will either hook the audience or wrap up the speech. She’s partial to customer service stories for corporate meetings. Every company has to deal with customers – comparing your positive or negative customer service experience with how the company handles theirs gives you a great format to follow. I like this idea. It’s not just strictly about your company and everyone has had a good or bad customer experience. People can relate to your story.

That makes Hack #3 to find a story that your audience can relate to. Common experiences with your own twist: how it applies to your company will give you a perfect 5 to 7-minute speech.

Corporate Club Speech Ideas

Marsha Friedman, DTM and District 10’s first DTM Mentorship Chair, suggested that you shouldn’t ignore the chance to practice an upcoming presentation or present how the work you do daily relates to the company mission statement. Most of the corporate clubs in District 10 have over 1000 employees – most people don’t know what you do or why. By sharing your position and your contribution to the company, you’re breaking out of the silo and helping to build bridges to enhance everyone’s work experience.

Marsha also says that you can figure out the purpose of your one-hour speech, an opening and conclusion and 3 points in the body in one hour. I agree. You don’t need to slave over a speech. What you need to do is give speeches regularly in your club. You know your work and you know your audience. You can work for an hour or less and have a reasonably good speech to give.

Wrap it up, Kim

The other fun thing that happened last week was I got another Competent Communicator award. Are you still working on those classic manuals? We’ve only got 6 more months to finish them up. I know of a few people in District 10 who are going for the classic DTM and have mapped out every single speech and task they have to complete. They’re ambitious! I spoke with one Toastmaster today who has 20 more speeches to give out of 4 advanced manuals. That’s about one advanced manual per month!

Go for it! Not just because your club can use the goals in the Distinguished Club Program. Finish up those classic manuals because they’ve got a lot of value and you’ll benefit from the work.


I’ll bet you noticed I mentioned District 10 a lot in this podcast. Well, that’s because District 10 Toastmasters is our sponsor and we get our music from

Be sure to suggest Toastmasters 101 podcast to your friends who want to know about us! You can find us at Toastmasters101 dot net – including all the places that you can listen to us – including Spotify. Wild, hunh?

Understand the purpose of a speech is to convince the audience to respond to your call to action.