the writer is a lonely hunter

writing by Gail Aldwin and other authors

Using sayings from around the world as a prompt for public speaking

on July 23, 2015

mag59Previously on this blog, I have written about my membership of a local public speaking group (you can read about the Casterbridge Speakers here). Last week, it was my turn to lead the table topics section of the agenda. Here members of the group are asked to give an impromptu talk on a non-specialist theme or topic for up to two-minutes. Some people love the challenge – others hate it. My role is to select topics in advance of the meeting which  allow speakers to share stories or offer opinions. According to Toastmasters International,  this role will  help to improve my organisational, time management and facilitation skills.

In order to offer a non-threatening subject for a two-minute talk, I looked to issue 65 of Writing in Education  for ideas. There, an article by Robert Paul Weston used Japanese sayings as guidance for writers. This got me thinking about using sayings from around the world as a prompt for a two-minute talk. After a little internet searching, I came up with these prompts:

A saying from Pakistan: It’s raining pestles and mortars

  • What’s your experience of too much rain?

The speech that followed referenced the Somerset floods then described the experience of feeling ‘flooded’ by too many stressful demands.

A saying from the USA: Between a rock and a hard place

  • When have you had to face a choice between two unsatisfactory options?

This question prompted a story regarding education and the dilemma of choosing between attending a prestigious boarding school or taking a place at a local school

A saying from Spain: A falta de pan, galletas (translation – if there’s no bread, cakes will do)

  • When have you eaten cake for breakfast?

A very funny story about three girlfriends and many cakes was the response to this question.

Do you have clean flour in your bag? This is a Norwegian saying that asks whether you’re doing a good deed or tricking someone.

  • What was the last trick you played?

This question resulted in a speech suggesting that all forms of management were, in fact, trickery.

In writing groups and classes, prompts are often used to stimulate new writing. As these prompts proved successful in generating talk, I thought I would recycle them here, in case anyone cares to use them as a writing prompt. Let me know how you get on!


One response to “Using sayings from around the world as a prompt for public speaking

  1. Patsy says:

    I was just thinking these might make good writing prompts, then read your suggestion to use them in that way.

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