The process of developing the content of your speech is fundamentally important to effective public speaking. Meaningful content is critical to writing a great speech and without it the presenting skills of voice, language, body language and gestures are of little use to the listeners or the speaker.
The process of developing the content of your speech can be frustrating and use up a vast amount of time. But you can use a 4 step process to simplify and streamline the development of content for your speech.
1. Decide on the Purpose
The purpose of the speech must justify the time and energy put into it by you as speaker and by the audience listening to it. The speech purpose needs to answer the question “What will this presentation do for my audience? The considerations to keep in mind when deciding on the purpose are;-
(i) How will the presentation benefit the audience?
(ii) Is it appropriate for the audience?
(iii) Is the speech being given for entertainment or is a specific action wanted from the audience
(iv) The circumstances and situation of the speech, e.g. at a charity fund raising event your talk will be delivered to raise money
2. Developing the Theme
Your theme should be stated in a clear, brief and meaningful statement. The theme chosen must be able to be developed to accomplish the purpose. To develop the theme you will need to keep in mind a clear picture of the audience and in your judgement
(i) Has the greatest influence on your audience
(ii) It can be developed successfully for your audience
(iii) It supports the purpose
(iv) The audience characteristics such as age, number, experience, attitude etc
3. Selecting the Style of The Presentation
The style(s) chosen to deliver your speech must support the purpose of the speech and it will determine the type of information you need to gather in the research step.
There are 2 criteria you can use to select the style of your speech:
(i) The purpose for speaking
(ii) Audience’s attitude and understanding
The 5 styles that can be used in delivering your speech are:
(i) Humor – the principal idea is to entertain the audience
(ii) Narrative – used to tell a story of people, places and events
(iii) Exposition – used to describe, explain or demonstrate an idea
(iv) Argument – presentation of facts and other evidence to support your ideas
(v) Motivation – uses emotional appeals to the audience to take a certain action
Humor and narration are more likely to be utilised when the audience is to be entertained. Argument and motivation are usually used when a specific action is wanted from the audience.
The goal of research is to uncover information to support and justify the theme and ideas of the speech. The first step in research is to develop a rough outline of your speech so that the research is properly focussed.
The primary source of information should be your own experiences. Once you have exhausted your experience, there are many other sources of information that can be utilised. The other sources include books, films, TV, interviewing other people and of course the internet. When using these sources it is important to use your judgement as to the validity of the information.
You will now have the content necessary to outline, organize and write and deliver your speech . Mastery of the process of developing the content will enable you to write and deliver a speech that is of benefit to the audience. With the knowledge that your content is valuable to your listeners your confidence will increase and you will enjoy the experience of public speaking more.