The Take-Away

June 2, 2009 | | Comments Off on The Take-Away

Every good speech has some broad purpose, such as to enhance understanding (informative), effect some change (persuasive), or simply to evoke some emotion (as in a special occasion). But, there’s a more specific purpose to each speech that has to be spelled out (somewhere in the introduction).

As an example, you might intend to inform an audience of the health problems associated with a particular product. So, what’s the purpose?

I’ve had students tell me the purpose is stated right there: “to inform the audience, specifically about different health problems when using a certain product… How can it be any clearer?”

Look more carefully.

Why are you really informing the audience of this? What are you trying to do?

The Take-Away

I used to call it the “moral of the story.” I liked that. It was nice and clear. The problem is that every speech I heard after that ended with: “In conclusion, the moral of the story is…”

Instead, I’ll call it the “take-away.” It’s the same thing; I just prefer to hear people say, “What can we take away from this?” It’s more appropriate, considering a moral to a story involves… well, a story, which is essentially a fictional or allegorical piece.

While a specific purpose is stated in the introduction, the take-away is that same purpose placed in the conclusion. It simply tells us what we can or should or must do as a result of listening to the speech. You can see why it’s so tempting to use the term “moral.” But, don’t.

The True Purpose?

Given this, what is the take-away from the example earlier? Your introduction started out with the idea of informing the audience, but we can see now that you really want to persuade us not use that product. That’s your specific purpose. That’s your take-away.

So, go back to your introduction, and change it from informing the audience about the health problems associated with the use of a product  to something closer to your take-away, i.e. to persuade them to stop using a product that can harm them.

Your speeches will be much clearer in intent and much more effective as a result.

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