Every speech must have a clear purpose. I am sure you have heard that said many times. The reasons for speaking, in general, are to inform, persuade, actuate, and entertain. But although those purposes are not mutually exclusive, they can still be treated as individual purposes. However, the speaker should always be very clear about what they want their listeners to think, feel or do after hearing you speak.
Speakers should decide on their purpose or foundational statement on which they will build their speech. As Randy Harvey, the 2018 World Champion of Public Speaking, advises: “your purpose statement should be laser-focused on your topic and run like a scarlet ribbon through your speech from start to finish.” A general statement is of little value until reduced to a manageable size – a series of why questions will help narrow your message. The first “why” question should be why that particular subject. The second, why your audience would be interested in listening to you speak on that subject. Third, is it appropriate for that audience and occasion, and can you complete this topic 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. Speakers should speak to be heard, understood, and repeated while focusing on the central idea and message.
1. When the purpose is to inform, the speaker must clearly understand their message.
2. If the objective is to persuade, the focus should be on getting your listeners to accept your claims or ideas.
3. If it is to actuate, you want the focus to be on taking some action.
4. While the primary focus of speeches to entertain centers on entertaining, amusing, or providing enjoyment to their listeners, humor is discovered when you contradict your audience’s thinking. When your audience expects you to turn left, you go right.
Selecting a subject about which you already know a thing or two and find out more through research. Whether you are speaking to inform, persuade, actuate, or entertain, natural humor will significantly increase your audience’s attention to the content presented. Speaking from personal experience, we exhibit goodwill, and empathy for the feelings of others increases your credibility. However, your purpose will go a long way in determining the success of your speaking occasion. Your purpose is everything.