I made the mistake of making my speech on Understanding Nuclear Power - which, really, isn't that damn hard to do. Problem is, you have to want to understand - and if you don't, you aren't gonna. Boy oh boy, did they not want to.
Honestly, I kinda knew I was fucked the minute I walked in... because half the class was missing. Which half? The half that were in CS or Engineering. What was left? A couple of ESL students, the music major chick who looks at white people like they have a skin disease, the surfer dude from Jersey who acts stoned but isn't, the mousey dude who has never made eye contact with anyone (when speaking or not) the entire time we've had this class, and the Susy Homemaker who did her Informative Speech on Brad Pitt and Jennifer Anniston's breakup. (I'm not making that up.)
I honestly think it made it worse that I was really trying to explain my topic. At 9 in the morning on Saturday, these folks resented being asked to understand shit.
To add insult to injury, it turns out that the one dude who was an engineering type who showed up... had decided to do his speech on Three Mile Island. His speech went a hell of a lot better than it would have otherwise, because after seeing me tank - and having the pretense that they would already know the basics of how nuclear power worked - he cut all the theory out of his own speech, and just rattled out that a valve stuck, that the monitoring equipment sucked, and that it was a wake-up call. Which went over a lot better, because while nobody there knew what the fuck a relief valve really was, he didn't try to explain it to them either, and they clearly appreciated that.
I talked to him later, and said how much I wished I'd known what his topic was going to be, because I'd have cut the scope on mine DRASTICALLY if I had. And he confirmed how glad he was that I'd gotten the theory out of the way before him (which he had no way of knowing ahead of time either).
That, or I wish he'd gone first. Oh well... lesson learned. Next time, I'll make damn sure not to try to talk to a Saturday morning Speech class about anything they don't already know. =\