If you want your speech to be a good one, then you need to give it some purpose. Of course, what is that purpose? If you find yourself saying to yourself that you really just want to get the speech over with, then that’s your purpose. Do you think the audience will be thrilled about that?
The key word here is “relevance.” Almost any topic you choose can be a good one as long as you make it relevant to the audience. That’s the real trick. Some of that was covered in “Crafting an Introduction” and “The Importance of the Introduction,” but let’s look at it more carefully as it pertains to informative speeches.
So, with that in mind, the purpose of any informative (or persuasive) speech is to identify a problem and provide a solution (in persuasive speeches, you have to go the extra step of proving the problem really exists). But, if the audience already agrees that the problem exists, then you don’t need to spend a lot of time preaching to the choir. You need to focus on teaching the choir (hopefully not how to sing!).
To make this a bit easier, I have developed a “fill in the blank” system to help you begin the process of developing your topic/purpose/relevance. This will help you to frame the problem, identify the cause, and determine the solution.
For informative speeches, there is an accepted lack of understanding or a missing skill set among the audience members. The “problem” in the audience is that they need this understanding or skill set in order to be successful at something. As a speaker, you must identify this problem, the missing knowledge or skill, and outline how this knowledge or skill will enhance the lives of the audience members. You can begin by completing the outline and directions below:
1. People don’t know how to _______________________.
How many people don’t know? List your source.
You need some evidence that this is truly a problem within the audience or within society and you need a credible source that indicates that.
2. This is a problem because _______________________.
Provide an example or statistic. List your source.
Again, a missing skill set is only a problem if it hinders the audience’s lives somehow. We may not know how to ice skate or knit a sweater, but if we’ve gotten along just fine without those skills, then how is it relevant to us? This is why you have to address this. Without it, you are just providing useless information. People won’t know or care about economics until you determine that economics has an impact on them (particularly, their money).
3. If it doesn’t change, ________________ could be the result.
But, if it does change, _________________ could be the result.
Provide some evidence this could be true. List your source.
So, to use the economics example, if people don’t understand the principles of the economy, what could be the result? Can unaware individuals potentially lose a lot of money? Can they find themselves with less purchasing power? Working harder and earning less? If so, what examples can you provide to show us this is possible?
Of course, the next steps involved are developing that understanding or missing skill set for us, but the important thing here is to frame the problem in a way that has a potential impact upon the audience. Once the audience can see how the problem relates to the missing skill, they will be too eager to listen to you in order to correct the problem. The more you develop this aspect of your speech or presentation, the more willing your audience will be to listen.
Remember, the audience is aware that they are missing some things in their lives. They just don’t see how those things always matter to them. Once they see the link, they will want to get the know-how to improve their lot. And, yes, if the choir can’t sing, then they will want to learn!