Toastmasters speech no.7: A boring lecture about statistics

Yesterday I completed speech project number seven in the Toastmasters Competent Communicator manual. The objectives of this project were to “Research Your Topic”. This is what happened…

(Watch this 6:45 video on Vimeo or Youtube)


The research speech is notorious for being one of the most difficult speeches. When you’re talking about something unfamiliar it’s hard to memorise, and even harder to improvise your way out of a mistake. But the biggest challenge is choosing a topic that is small enough to fit into a seven minute speech. No one wants to be overwhelmed with facts. I discarded topics such as “The placebo effect” because they’re too big. I chose to talk about Benford’s law, because I think it’s interesting, it’s a small topic and I could combine it with a personal anecdote.

My research consisted of re-listening to the podcast that introduced me to Benfords law, reading the Wikipedia article on Benford’s law, and searching Google for an explanation of fraud detection.  I found a great video describing financial fraud detection. The research paper I refer to is Bolton, R.J., Hand, D.J.: Statistical Fraud Detection: A Review available here (in reality I only read the abstract).


This was my last meeting at Toastmasters of the Cove as I am moving back to the UK next week. For that reason a lot of my “feedback” was actually farewells. Furthermore this meeting was a “backwards meeting” where the agenda is reversed, this means I received a humorous evaluation that predicted what I would do well/badly, but I didn’t get a proper evaluation. Here are the audience’s feedback slips:

I’ve had a great time at this club, so I will be sad to leave it. Everyone has been extremely friendly. And as it was my last meeting I even got a poetic tribute from two of the members, which was a very nice and surprising gesture. I’ve included one of the poems here. It’s very referential to my previous speeches and table topics.

He got his relief from pasta and the basil leaf
He now goes to Hooters to get away from computers
Where babes in apron strings bring him big juicy chicken wings

As you go back to Britain, Belgian camping can be rewritten
Think twice before taking parents’ advice
Put on American rappers to hide the noise of candy wrappers
Then you don’t need to brush your teeth in the spring Belgian heat

As you lift a beer mug, try to remember times with Doug
Need an audience for open mike?
Let Doug know, he’ll invite
Nothing rhymes with Toastmaster of the Cove
But we are a treasure-trove
If you want to escape the rain, come and visit us again!

By Anya Singleton

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One Comment

  1. Veronica
    Posted July 16, 2011 at 1:18 am | Permalink

    I am going to recommend this speech to my club. I was very impressed with your use of story — something I’m trying to teach my members to do. I found myself fascinated by the speech even though it was a boring subject. The elements you chose to use — cosmic preference for the #1 and references to the IRS were ingenious.

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