The way to become a great speaker is to speak as often as you can. You can even use people you come in contact with on a daily basis, if they will listen to you. They don’t have to know that you are practicing. Speaking in public can be very scary and not having the fundamentals can make it even scarier. I remember the first time I went to Toastmasters after mustering the courage to get over my fear of speaking; 2008 was the beginning of my journey of becoming a speaker. I don’t want to bore you with all my mishaps during my transition of becoming comfortable speaking in public and understanding the fundamentals of preparing my speeches. As I said, to become better and comfortable is to practice as often as you can.
The first principle is to select the topic. Having a topic can make the preparation process easier as you will not have to search for unwanted material, which can be considered a waste of time. When you choose the topic you become more SPECIFIC. It is also important that you choose your topic from a subject that you are familiar with, for me that would be track and field, overcoming adversity, organizational leadership or social and political issues. However, as a speaker you also have to be mindful of the audience and the occasion. Just in case you are having problems with coming up with a speech topic, you can brainstorm with a spouse, friend, coworker, teammate and/or with your mastermind group. Brainstorming is a great way of generating ideas and is an uncritical process as there will be no judgement present during the brainstorming process.
The second principle is to identify the goal of your speech. Your goal can be put into two categories, general and specific. The general goal of your speech can either be to entertain, inform or to persuade your audience. Therefore, the general goal of giving a speech should be identified early in the preparation stage of your speech. Don’t get me wrong, when giving a speech you can entertain, inform and persuade your audience all in one speaking session. However, you want to identify your general goal as you prepare your speech. Then you have to get to the next stage of goal preparation and that is to be specific. This is where you determine the exact response you want to receive from your audience. Say that your topic is “Why You Should Drink More Water”. Your general goals would be to inform your audience of why drinking more water is important and persuade them to drink more. Your specific goals would be for them to understand the importance and make the conscience decision to drink more water.
The third principle is to write your thesis statement. A thesis statement is where you summarize and explain what you want to accomplish in your speech utilizing your refined goals from principle two. For example you can name three or more reasons, if you so choose, on why drinking water is important in our daily consumption. That is outlining the specific elements of your speech.
The fourth principle is to analyze your audience. Why should you analyze your audience? Having an analysis of your audience serves a great deal of importance. It is through that process that you will have the opportunity to adapt your speech to the interests of your audience by knowing their knowledge level and attitude. Once you are aware of the audience’s character, you will be able to make your speech more appropriate and suitable for your listeners. You will also have it easier in organizing and preparing your speech when you know what interests your audience. In fact, during this process you will find out the education level, age group, gender and geographic uniqueness of your audience.
Remember these four fundamental principles of preparing your speech.
1.Select your topic
2. Write the goal of your speech
- General goal
- Specific goal
3. Write your thesis statement
4. Analyze your audience