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Communicating through Speeches

Organizational Approach to Speeches

  • Topic – Choose a topic that sparks your interest.
  • Purpose – Other than informing, you also need to find a goal for your speech. Decide what do you want to accomplish by making this speech.
  • Audience – Think from the perspective of the audience; how to present new information to them or how to change their views.
  • Supporting materials – Just hearing someone talk can be boring. It’s better to prepare graphical charts and videos that will help in supporting your statement. What you choose depends on the time you have.
  • Organization –  Organize the speech by compiling your main points and purpose of the speech, and then create an outline.
  • Introduction – The way you introduce the speech determines whether the audience will continue to listen to you for the next five minutes or not. Begin with a strong opening line, preferably something shocking or interesting.
  • Conclusion – This is where the speech is summarized and reviewed so that the audience can recall the main points.
  • Delivery – Maintain eye contact with the audience. If possible, speak from your memory rather than focusing on a piece of paper.

Purpose

Begin by developing a purpose for your speech. Generally, the reasons can be summed into five of the following points:

  • To inform – This is for the specific purpose of informing the audience about a subject, to make them knowledgeable about the subject and make them interested in looking further into it.
  • To demonstrate – Through this speech, the person provides a detailed explanation of how to use a specific machine or medicine or any other recent progress. Sometimes, a live demonstration takes place while the speech is being made.
  • To persuade – This is for the sake of persuading a group of people to subscribe to a new school of thought that might be beneficial for them.
  • To entertain – Comedians usually use this method. They make jokes and light-hearted conversation throughout their speech while informing on a certain subject or political situation.
  • Ceremonial Speech – This is made at functions, which can be a wedding toast or a eulogy or even for the opening for a new restaurant or business.

Audience Interests

What kind of audience are you giving the speech to? Are they more likely to prefer serious, to the point speeches, or would they want humor to mix in between? Are they more likely to listen to you if you talk to them about politics, or the use of a new product? A lot depends on what kind of a crowd it is and thus, the approach you should opt for.

All of these topics will help you better tailor your speech to the interests of the audience.

Appeal, Appropriateness, and Ability

Seek the following characteristics for your speech.

  • Appeal – Appeal is centered around you, and the way you command the stage. It also depends on the topic that you are talking about. Social issues are more likely to have an impact than product related speeches. The goal is to engage the audience’s attention and make them interested in the story.
  • Appropriateness – Appropriateness involves the suitability of the topic for the audience you’re performing. Is the topic something that is directly related to their situation?
  • Ability – Ability is again something that depends on you. Ability is whether you are able to deliver the speech in a way that strikes the heart of the audience or not.

For this, focus on topics that are very current, a bit on the controversial side, have clear evidence that you can state and something that you, yourself are interested in. If it isn’t appealing to you, then it’s most certain that it won’t be appealing to the listeners.

Begin with Your Thesis Statement

There are five principles that are recommended while preparing a thesis statement. They are:

  • Use language that is quite specific and gets the point across. Avoids random sounds like uh, hmm, as much as possible.
  • The statement should sound like it has been made with the audience’s best interests in mind.
  • It should be a unified goal.
  • It can’t be vague. The statement should be conclusive and complete.
  • The statement should state something with conviction.

Plan Your Search for Information

When preparing your speech, consider all the different perspectives on an issue and make sure the information you gather comes from a reliable source.

Stay true to the subject. Do not add events that have never occurred. If you’re trying to inform, you need to tell the absolute truth. Even with persuasion, if you persuade someone for now, but later, they find out that they’ve been fed a lie, it is bound to backfire severely.

The characteristics of clearly supported document are:

  • Clarity of Purpose – The purpose and goal of the document is precise and clear. There is no other way to interpret what is being said other than what the author intends.
  • Answers a Question – It has a problem or a question that needs to be answered.
  • Relevant Evidence – The data and evidence presented should be directly connected to the goal and purpose.
  • Resolution – A perspective should be very well articulated so that the readers reach the conclusion that the author wants them to reach. The solution should have a clear frame of reference, something that is tangible and articulated well enough to determine whether it is possible to make it come true.

Compiling Your Information

Now, you have collected a lot of sources and have lots of evidence. What you need to do is compile it in a neat manner so that the ultimate speech can be summed up in a determined number of words.

A model by Anderson, Anderson and Williams, states that 7 steps need to be followed to compile your speech properly. They are:

  • Sensitivity – This involves being aware while compiling. You might find new information while compiling. You need to be receptive enough to look through the information to determine whether it’s important or not. This state of awareness is called “priming.”
  • Exposure – This is when you get more up close with the information provided to you. Instead of sources, you might get information from someone who has directly been in the situation, or experience the situation yourself to get a better idea.
  • Assimilation and Accommodation – This is when you allow new ideas to infiltrate your thoughts and accommodate them in the speech to make room for a better goal-oriented speech.
  • Incubation – Incubation is when you find a new idea from the gathered information and develop it.
  • Incorporation – This is when the information is made into a full and stand-alone topic.
  • Production – It is at this point when you begin creating your speech.
  • Revision – After you’ve created the speech, you need to proofread it over and over again to make sure you haven’t missed any key points or have any error, factual or otherwise.

Rhetorical Situation

A rhetorical situation is when both the writer and the audience engage in a battle of the opposite views to persuade each other of their own conviction. In this case, the 5Ws and 1H are considered from the perspective of the audience. It is presented through three elements which we will discuss below.

  • Context – Why is the speech being given in the first place? In what kind of a situation and place?
  • Audience – Your audience does not consist of foolish people. They most likely have some idea about the topic you’re preparing a speech on, and they might have preset ideas and expectations from you.
  • Purpose – A speech is written to inform, demonstrate, persuade, motivate or entertain.

Strategies for Success

There are several techniques and ways of framing a speech which will help you to connect with the audience. Professionals have outlined some of them to help you to succeed in informing your audience.

  • Tone – Your tone tells a lot about what and how you feel about the topic.
  • Emphasis – There are ways to emphasize on certain areas of a speech; the parts you want the audience to pay more attention to. Things like simple pauses or a word spoken in a deeper tone do the work.
  • Engagement – Find common points; things that will help you to connect to the audience, visually or with words, and increase your engagement.
  • Clarity – Clarify the points that you want should be clearer than the others, so that you are sure your audience understands what you’re trying to say.
  • Conciseness – Keep your word count minimum. People easily lose interest when something drags on for too long. Deliver to the point as much as you can.
  • Arrangement – Arrangement refers to organizing the speech in such a way that the audience can understand how you went from point A to B and how it relates to C.
  • Credibility – Taken directly from Aristotle’s ethos, this one depends on the credibility you present through your own presence and speech.
  • Expectation – Expectation is what the speaker hopes to achieve from the speech. Reference- You need to refer back to your sources from time to time, and make it clear that the information is take from factual evidence.

Organizing Principles for Your Speech

  • Time – If you organize your speech according to time, it will have a clear pattern of the beginning, middle and end. It shows the chronological way events affect each other.
  • Comparison – You can compare your ideas with an opposite viewpoint and show how yours is more credible.
  • Contrast – Similar to comparison, it highlights the difference between concept and results.
  • Cause and Effect – In this case, an event is presented followed by an explanation about  how the event affected people.
  • Problems and solution – Again, an event is presented, but it is finished with solution to the problem.
  • Biographical –  In the biographical method, you rely on the people that have been victims or experienced the event themselves.
  • Spatial – Focus on a certain part and then later elaborate on how it fits the entire situation.
  • Ascending and Descending – From one good story, one leads to downfall or vice versa in this case.

Delivering Biased-Free Information in Speeches

Following are 5 ways to deliver a neutral speech effectively:

  • The language should be neutral and value free and should not be presented as something positive when they essentially have a negative connotation.
  • One needs to be mindful that information is gathered from unbiased sources that are also cogent and practical.
  • The presentation should be well balanced and an individual should use sources that give clear picture of an issue from different perspectives so that it remains free of personal values or judgments. The different point of views should be discussed at equal parity and should be given due consideration.
  • An individual needs to be mindful of the audience, and should respect difference of opinion. Diversity in speech makes it more acceptable and offers more clarity.
  • It is important to know the institute/organization that one represents and communicate accordingly so that the messages are well received.

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