Back To CourseCommunications 101: Public Speaking
16 chapters | 105 lessons | 12 flashcard sets
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Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.
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:
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.
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:
The audience will appreciate a more natural flow of information. With that being said, keep things in proper order.
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.
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.
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.
Think about where the generalization came from. Perhaps you are thinking about when you were a teen? Maybe you are stereotyping every teen based on an experience you had with a small sample of teens? Whatever the case may be, without knowing your particular audience, you may be dead wrong!
Speaking of the unknown, let's talk about abstracts.
Love stories use these things all the time. I mean, a couple running through a field of clovers, stop and embrace in a hug. They gaze into each other's eyes and ask each other, 'what is love?'
Okay, stop there. Nobody can really define love. Well, the dictionary says it has something to do with deep affection. But then, what is deep affection?
That is an abstract, and it means a idea or concept with no physical existence. In other words, we cannot see, touch or smell love. We cannot buy it in a store, order it online, bake it in an oven or throw it on a grill. Now, this is not to say that we should avoid them completely; sometimes we need to use abstracts. But, we also need to know that when we use abstracts, there may be several interpretations of the abstract.
Check it out: CNN Money asked a few people how much money would someone have to have to be wealthy. The responses ranged from just a couple thousand a month to an eye-popping ten million dollars. There you have it. This is because wealth is an abstract idea, and its meaning is as unique as every individual asked. So, if you're going to ponder abstracts with your audience, elaborate on them with other information.
I know we talked about quality versus quantity, but there is a fine line. Yes, you should think about the quality of your information rather than fill the room with 10,000 words when 10 will do. However, there are times when you should elaborate on the information to be sure it is understood the way you intended. This means, provide details to make the information more clear.
Don't get me wrong. It could be a very simple elaboration. In a speech about Creole recipes of New Orleans cuisine, it would be helpful to let your audience know that the Creole population is made up of Native Americans, African Americans, Spanish and French. This may help them to understand the use of spices.
In the end, the most important thing to remember is that your speech is about your audience. You want them to walk away feeling like they learned something new.
To sum it all up, when you are writing an informative speech to inform your audience about a topic, keep a few things in mind. It must be interesting, understandable and a learning experience. For one, make the information relevant to the audience by using data that is personal to them.
Quality information is more important than quantity. So, send the right information in the right amount. Keep everything organized by creating a logical order for each main point. Main points and sub points or chronological will work, depending on your topic.
Avoid being too technical in your speech. Simply, do not use language the audience is unfamiliar with. It may confuse them. Making assumptions about your audience is nothing more than a general guess. And, you could be very wrong.
Abstract thoughts, like love or wealth, may have multiple interpretations. They are ideas or concepts with no physical existence. When necessary, elaborate on your information to be sure it is understood the way you intended. You can provide details to make the information more clear.
In the end, it is really about teaching your audience something they don't know.
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Back To CourseCommunications 101: Public Speaking
16 chapters | 105 lessons | 12 flashcard sets