Every speech must have a clear purpose. The main objectives when speaking in public are to inform, persuade, actuate or to entertain. But although those purposes are not mutually exclusive, each is sufficiently discrete to be treated as an individual purpose. Speakers should be very clear about what they want their listeners to think, feel or do after they have heard your presentation.
Your presentation should include a foundational statement. That statement should be short and laser-focused on the selected topic. A lengthily general statement is of little value until it is narrowed down to a manageable size and purpose. A series of why questions will help narrow the topic and help you define your foundational statement.
- The first obvious why question should be, why that particular topic.
- The second, why that particular audience would be interested in listening to you speak on that subject.
- Thirdly why that topic is appropriate for that particular audience and occasion.
- Lastly, can that topic be adequately addressed in the allotted time?
As the speaker answers the why questions they have chosen, they should also keep in mind the general purposes for public speaking. Generally, speakers speak to be heard, to be understood, and to be repeated while focusing on the central idea and the key message they are communicating.
- If the purpose is to inform, there should be a clear understanding of your message.
- If the objective is to persuade, your focus should be on getting listeners to accept your message, claim or idea.
- If it is to actuate, you want the focus on your audience taking some action.
- Speeches to entertain focuses on providing amusement and enjoyment to listeners, however, all presentations should include lighter moments to break tensions that may develop when speakers are on the platform.
Selecting a subject which the speaker already know something about and can find out more through research is of paramount importance. Whatever the speaker’s purpose is for speaking, natural humor will significantly increase your audience’s attention to the content being presented.
Speaking from personal experience while exhibiting goodwill and caring for the feelings of others increases credibility, however, your purpose will always go a long way in determining the success of your speaking occasions – Why because your purpose is everything.