When it comes to public speaking, it is important to establish your general purpose before you even begin the creation of your material. What is your reason for speaking? Have you been asked to speak at a business convention or give the convocation speech at your alma mater? Maybe you are enrolled in a public speaking course or are a member of Toastmasters. Possibly you belong to a leads organization and it is your turn to give a 10-minute overview of your business. Of course, it is also possible that you are looking to establish yourself in the business of public speaking.
Whatever your reason for speaking, what would you like to accomplish? Do you want to inform your audience or persuade them? Aside from speeches to entertain, which is a topic unto itself, most people are either speaking to convey information, much like a teacher or a lecturer, or their goal is to persuade, in which they are supporting and defending a cause. The latter could be as simple as convincing your audience to buy your book at the back of the room or it could be as complex as trying to convince a group of college students to change their political or religious beliefs.
Another way of looking at your topic is to decide if you would like to explain, describe or demonstrate something. If so, then your general purpose is to inform. On the other hand, you may wish to sell, convince, or speak in defense of an idea or an issue. If such is the case, then your goal is to persuade.
While the persuasive presentation is more challenging and more complex than the informative, the former will and should be informative in much of the material you discuss; however, the information you provide should only include that which is necessary to make your point.
Let’s say, for example, that you want to convince your audience that fluorescent lighting should not replace incandescent lighting. As your goal is to persuade, it is not the time to give the history of the light bulb. Because most people are unaware of the health hazards of fluorescent lighting and believe only that it is cheaper over incandescent lighting, you will have several facts to discuss that will be informative in nature, such as what steps you must take if you break a bulb.
It is also important to recognize that not all in your audience are going to agree with you and that you should not be disappointed. You may be able to convince some people that both forms of lighting are valuable, but you will not change the minds of your entire audience.
The Voice Lady Nancy Daniels provides private, group and corporate training throughout the United States and Canada as well as Voicing It!, the only video training program on voice improvement and presentation skills. Visit Voice Dynamic and voice your opinion in her new blog.