Tuesday, July 28, 2015

Thinking up speech topics

Coming up with topics for speeches is a perennial concern. On June 13th at her Write-Out-Loud.com web site Susan Dugdale posted a page on Speech topics - 100’s of them with ten categories:

1)   Demonstration
2)   Children
3)   Persuasive
4)   Fun
5)   Interesting
6)   Informative
7)   Commemorative
8)   Contoversial
9)   Easter
10) Impromptu

Back in 2012 Toastmasters International put out a  six-minuteYouTube video on Finding Speech Topics  that advised you to: 

A) Think about your personal experiences
B) Check reference materials
     (websites, newspapers, books, magazines)
C) Focus on your audience’s needs
D) Recognize the occasion (or event)
E) Are you qualified to speak on that topic?

At his Expressions of Excellence web site Craig Harrison has a page with 110 speech topics to ponder. His #33 is The history of the VW. On July 28th USA Today had an article about how VW surpasses Toyota as world’s largest automaker in first half of 2015. On July 13 SlideGenius had a blog post on 6 Ways to Get Presentation Ideas from Volkswagen Ads.

Volkswagen has a very interesting history. The name means people’s car, and the idea was to make a German car that would do what the Ford Model T earlier did for the United States. At the BBC web site there is an article on The VW Beetle: How Hitler’s idea became a design icon. On YouTube you can watch a video titled From Hitler to Hippies: Evolution of the Volkswagen Beetle which at 11:40 shows the German dictator being driven in a prototype of the VW convertible. Production of the air-cooled rear-engined, rear wheel drive Beetle eventually exceeded the fifteen million for the Model T and totaled over 21 million.

In France Citroën also had a people’s car project that became the 2CV, which had a water cooled engine and front drive. About 4 million were sold, along with related models for a total of around 9 million. Later on British Motor Corporation produced loads of the Mini. You might remember that the 1969 caper film, The Italian Job, featured three Mini Coopers hauling the stolen gold. More recently in India Tata built the Nano.

When I was growing up, the family of a French-Canadian visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh had a little front-drive Swedish SAAB 96 hatchback sedan with a two-stroke three-cylinder engine that seemed very peculiar to me. I’d only seen two-stroke engines on outboard motors and motorcycles. Professor Lamy told me that his SAAB was the perfect car for Quebec winters, since there was no oil reservoir in the crankcase to freeze up like on a four-cycle engine. 

The painting of A Pensive Moment came from Wikimedia Commons.

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