Making odd topics interesting, thanks to Hasan Minhaj

Blog 8 of 8: Toastmasters, talk about what you want to know, not just what you know now

As a member and the (former) Vice President of Education of Unity Toastmasters (a community club in Toastmasters International), I chose one of eleven Pathways — “Presentations Mastery” — as a public speaking goal. This is the blog series of eight posts I wrote in one month to complete Level 4.*

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Photo credit: jankosmowski/Pixabay
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This is my very first plumbing job ever: my Japanese washlet. (Photo credit: Shamontiel L. Vaughn)

Why your delivery matters more than your message

So why does this matter for Toastmasters (or any public speaker)? Name your most influential advocate right now. I can almost guarantee that this person is a great public speaker. And the delivery of his/her message matters as much as the actual message.

  • Whether you are for or against affirmative action, the “Affirmative Action” episode of “The Patriot Act” explores the history of why it was needed. I had a general understanding of the lawsuit regarding Harvard applicants, Asian Americans and affirmative action. But I hadn’t heard such a detailed critique from an Asian American breaking down both sides of the argument.

Making your speech interesting enough to share

Hasan Minhaj talks about topics that he loosely understands, but he’s quick to give credit to his staff who has done far more research to help him deliver the topic in a compelling way.

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Photo credit: TeroVesalainen/Pixabay

With only two years of marketing knowledge, I enjoyed Sam Harrison’s “Idea Spotting” book enough to speak about it during the 2018 International Speech Competition.

I couldn’t help but notice that members who were usually quiet around me came up to give feedback on that first speech. They wanted to know more about inventors and marketing — not knowing this was the first speech topic of 10 (for Competent Communicator certification) that I knew the least about.

  • Your speech could end up creating a new advocate for your cause (and maybe a few glowing evaluations).
  • Your message could be so effective that it’s banned by an entire country and makes people want to see it more.
  • You could teach people about a topic they didn’t even know they wanted to learn about.

Hasan Minhaj’s comical speech helped her be one of many who will not waste more than 36.5 billion in toilet paper annually.

And maybe, just maybe, you could be the reason why a woman sits on her bathroom floor happily humming along to her favorite songs. She’s calculating how much money she just saved on plumbing repairs. She has two T-valve adapters in one hand and an adjustable wrench in the other. She’s re-attaching plumbing from her sink and her toilet tank. Hasan Minhaj’s comical speech helped her be one of many who will not waste more than 36.5 billion in toilet paper annually.

Additional posts from Shamontiel’s eight-part Toastmasters blog series:

‘Are you mad at me?’: The art of handwritten letters ~ Toastmasters, handwritten letters never go out of style

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Check out her five Medium publications: Doggone World, Homegrown, I Do See Color, Tickled and We Need to Talk. Visit to read about her.

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