Helping Your Audience Learn During Informative Speeches: Strategies & Tips

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  • 0:01 Target Your Audience
  • 2:03 Limit Your Information
  • 2:47 Organize Your Speech
  • 4:32 Keep It Simple
  • 5:24 Don't Assume Anything
  • 6:05 Elaborate When Necessary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

An informative speech is given to teach the audience something new. To do this, there are a few things to keep in mind. Keep your speech relevant, interesting and full of engaging and useful information.

Target Your Audience

An informative speech is written, well, to inform your audience about a topic. It is designed to teach and raise awareness about something new. Regardless of how important your information is, sometimes informative speeches can seem more like a boring lecture and less like an engaging learning environment.

So, there are a few things the speaker should think about. By design, an informative speech will have no shortage of definitions, descriptions, charts, graphs and other learning devices, all of which can feel somewhat impersonal.

Start by making the information relevant to the audience. Using data that is personal to them can do this by gathering information about the audience before you even set foot on the stage.

Ask yourself a few questions:

  • Why is this particular audience interested in the topic?
  • What is the audience looking to get out of the speech?
  • Does the audience have any common interests?
  • What else are they interested in?

For example, you may want to inquire about how the audience received information about your upcoming speech. Maybe the attendees are employees of the same company. Perhaps they are members of an organization. This will give you a good understanding of their interests.

Now, the clues may not be so obvious. In this case, there is still time to get to know the audience. Start by arriving early at the speaking venue and walking around as the audience assembles. Strike up conversation with people.

Even though your speech is about to begin, you can still get to know the interests and preferences of the audience. Then, make a quick adjustment to the speech to make it more intimate and personal.

You may find out something new about the audience's interest. You can use this to swiftly segue a relevant fact or two into the speech. By interjecting a few personal and relevant tidbits into your speech, you will have the audience's attention.

Another thing to think about is the amount of stuff you want to talk about.

Limit Your Information

When a speaker is passionate about the topic, they tend to want to share every little bit of information with the audience. Stop! Don't be tempted to do this!

Quality is more important than quantity. What I mean is, sending the right information in the right amount will keep the audience interested without boring them to death! The fact is that people only remember about 25% of what they hear. That means the other 75% of your bellowing is going to be lost in the auditorium rafters.

So, here are a couple of tips:

  • Limit your information to two or three main points.
  • Present the information in different ways to avoid monotony.
  • Use facts and statistics sparingly.

The audience will appreciate a more natural flow of information. With that being said, keep things in proper order.

Organize Your Speech

So, just how do you keep an even flow? Organize your speech by creating a logical order for each main point. Nothing is more distracting than a disorganized speaker. Papers flying overhead, sweat splashing onto the audience members and stuttering from the stage is really befuddling.

Start by listing your main points. These are the key things you want to talk about. You can do this chronologically if you are using a timeline. For example, if you are talking about the history of hot dogs through the years, you may want to start with 1893 and the Colombian Exposition in Chicago where people tried this savory sausage for the first time. And, can you believe it - no bun! People actually ate them out of white-gloved hands!

Then, talk about the St. Louis Louisiana Purchase Exposition in 1904 where these tasty tubulars were so popular, they actually ran out of white gloves. Alas, the first hot hog bun was baked. You get the point. You are simply moving your way through a timeline.

You can also use sub points. These are smaller points that connect to the main points. For instance, a speech about the first year in college may look like this:

Main point: Financial aid

Sub point: Filling out the right forms

Main point: Moving away from home

Sub point: Getting used to roommates

Main point: Responsibilities

Sub point: Getting to class on time

Now, this is a sketchy example, but the long and short of it is: main point, sub point, main point, sub point. Whatever you do, don't get all caught up in using very high-tech lingo.

Keep It Simple

There is always a temptation to want to sound like a super genius. And you very well may be one, but speech delivery is no time to spout out words and phrases the audience does not understand.

Avoid being too technical in your speech. This means, do not use language the audience is unfamiliar with. For one, the audience doesn't want to feel dumb. Nor do you want to appear to be condescending. To avoid this, first get to know your audience. Before the speech, find out as much as you can about them. This will help when you draft your points.

For example, a speech about chemistry will be written one way for high school kids and a much different way for a lecture room full of Science Laureates. For the kids, you might want to start with a few refresher points about basic chemistry. For the Laureates, you probably wouldn't have to bring them up to speed.

This brings me to assumptions.

Don't Assume Anything

It's never a good idea to assume anything about your audience. In other words, don't make general guesses about who they are or what they know. Said a different way, if you are speaking to a bunch of teens, don't assume they will not take your speech seriously. Many teens are very interested in what adults have to say.

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