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Jan DArcy
  Achieving the Purpose of Your Speech

You should begin each speech by being absolutely clear about what you want the audience to do at the end of your talk. Here is Jan D'Arcy with some wonderful ideas you can use to make every speech more effective.

You must have some desire to speak on a subject. If you are uninspired, you will have no conviction in your voice or body language and you will not keep the attention of the audience.

I remember working with a young man who was employed by a utility company. He was an environmentalist at heart and had a great deal of difficulty accepting some of the company's policies. He was delivering the company's message like a robot.

I told him it was very obvious that he didn't believe the things he was saying and if he wanted to stay in the company's speakers bureau, he should speak on other topics, choosing ones he felt in accord with. He would come across as a better speaker and would represent the company better.

Now, what do you want to happen when you finish speaking? What results are you looking for? What do you want the individuals in your audience to do? If you are vague about the desired outcome, it is like you're jumping into a car without a specific destination and just driving until you run out of gas. You might see a lot of pretty sights and have a good time, but without any real direction, you and your fellow travelers can end up going around in circles very dissatisfied.

Write out a sentence that states what you want to happen: "After hearing my presentation, my audience will´┐Ż" Now avoid using vague words such as "will understand" or "be aware." It should be specifically worded so that if you were to give an audience a test, you could actually measure to see if you did achieve that purpose.

Choose active words. If it is an informative speech, here are some words you might use. "When I finish speaking I want my audience to compare," "to discuss," "to explain," "to identify," "to recall," "to restate," "to list," "to analyze." Examples might be, "After I finish speaking I want my audience to be able to compare benefits under three different family health care plans." Or, "When I finish my presentation I want my audience to be able to identify three indications of drug abuse in their children."

If you are selling or persuading, some of the following words will help you zero in on a response. "I want my audience to accept," "agree," "contribute," "cooperate," "help," "join," "offer," "support," "buy," "volunteer," "vote." Examples might be, "After listening to my presentation, my audience will sign up to contribute employee payroll deductions for United Way." Or, "After I finish speaking I want my audience to buy my complete cosmetic kits."

I worked with a woman who was very successful on a one-to-one basis selling limited partnerships in real estate. But I listened to her speaking to 150 people, and she never really made it clear she was asking them to sign contracts that evening. Her objective was buried somewhere between the first rate slide show on the real estate properties and the question and answer period. As a member of the audience, I wasn't quite sure what my next step would be.

Reworking her presentation for future sales meetings, I asked her to state her objective. What did she want her audience to do? "Sign a sales contract," she said. So now after the question and answer period, she takes a minute and a half to review the benefits and to ask clearly for an order. She tells the audience where and when and how they can sign a contract with her.

Now, here are two things you can do to be sure that you achieve the purpose of every speech:

First, think on paper. Write out a single statement that describes what you want the audience to do, exactly, at the end of the speech.

Second, use active verbs that trigger the motivation to do something when you finish speaking. Write out your concluding statement and try it out on others to see how powerful it sounds.


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