Let’s back up a bit…
Are you tired of boring your audience? Are you tired of losing their attention immediately after you begin your speech?
Personally, I can think of little worse than watching as an audience, who was at the beginning excited and expectant, begins to drift off and lose their focus on you. I have struggled with this, throughout my short speaking career, a number of times. But, I recently began practicing a technique that really helps me keep the audience interested. The technique is one that will be sure to keep your speech focused, clear and interesting to your listeners.
Of course, we should all be aware by now of the notion that when we speak, we should consider our audience. After all, it is them we are talking to. So, before we even begin writing a speech, we need to ask ourselves what our audience will receive from listening to our speech. If the answer is that they will get a better understanding of you as a speaker, then that is okay for one or two speeches. But, overall, a talking only about yourself becomes boring very quickly.
Because audiences are selfish. As altruistic as they may pretend to be, the bottom line is that an audience is a group of humans—selfish by nature—who are gathered together in the circumstance because they want to get something from the speaker and the speaking situation. We will do WELL to remember this vital, unchangeable, natural law.
That said, we always want to ask ourselves, “how will my speech information help the listeners in their life?” If we cannot answer, then don’t speak about it. Our speech should have a gift for our audience. (A new insight, a new way of acting, some new relevant information, something for them to think about).
If we can answer the question, then we can proceed.
A speech starts with a topic. …duh?
We need to decide what it is that we will say about the topic. A sentence that contains the topic, and what we will say about the topic is called—one of many names—a thesis. For example, we might be talking about Dogs. Well, what do we want to say about dogs?
Dogs are cute.
Okay. Good example, but a weak thesis. There is no vitality, no real depth to this.
Dogs make great pets.
This is still pretty uninteresting, but it is a little more filled with possibility for discussion. Why? Because there are some questions we can ask of it to define what we mean when we say, “Dogs make great pets.” Can you think of any questions?
What kind of dogs? Why do they make great pets? What do you mean great? Why should I care?
Choosing and answering these questions in your speech might make it more interesting. For example:
Ladies and gentleman, today I’d like to talk to you about one of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves. Have you any idea what that gift might be?
The greatest gift we can give ourselves is a best friend, a pal who won’t go away when we are angry, a chum who won’t call us stupid, a friend who will always play with us whenever we feel like it. One of the greatest gifts we can give ourselves is…a dog.
Dogs make great pets!!!
Now, do I mean just any kind of dog? No. Some dogs are crazy. Rottweilers are psycho, and I don’t mean them. But pretty much any other kind of dog are awesome. And they are awesome for three reasons.
Dogs make great pets because they are loyal. Who doesn’t love loyalty. A dog will be your best friend whether you kick it, call it names, or treat it like a king.
They make great pets because they always eat the left-overs. You never have to feel guilty for throwing away your uneaten food. If you have a dog, you can feel it the scraps. And let me tell you, the dog will LOVE YOU!!!!
Dogs also make great pets because they’ll keep you safe at night. If you live alone in a big city, it can be scary. But if you have yourself a big dog like a German Sheppard or a Lab, then they will bark loudly if someone tries to break into your apartment. This is good.
To conclude, a great pet is one that makes you feel good, one that brings you joy. We all deserve joy. Joy is a great gift to give ourselves, so I really recommend you consider getting yourself a dog. Because dogs make super awesome pets!
Now this is just a silly example. But you will notice that all of my questions have been answered in the speech. Answering the questions makes things a little more interesting, I think.
But what if we take a topic that is a little more involved? Take, for example:
Practicing these 5 tips can help you give a great phone interview.
This thesis begs quite a few questions that can be worked into a speech.
What are the tips? How can they help me? When do people do phone interviews? What are the differences between real face to face interviews and phone interviews? When and why do people usually do phone interviews?
Of course, you cannot always answer every question that you can think of. But, you can certainly answer some. Learning to ask your thesis questions is a fantastic way to develop a speech. Answering those questions in your speech will make your speech focused, engaging and interesting to your listeners.
So here are two assignments:
- Answer the questions to the thesis above.
- Make questions to the thesis below. Post them in my comment board. We can talk about your questions, and maybe I can give some suggestions to help you.
In a later blog, I’ll talk about how to make a good thesis.
All for now.