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Jan DArcy
  Finding Your Speech Objective

What you say and how you say it is largely determined by the specific audience that you are speaking to at the moment. Here is Jan D'Arcy with some great ideas on how you can identify your real speech objective before you give your talk.

I have to smile as I remember the client who called me up and asked me to write him something "Gettysburg addressish." It was worth noting that Lincoln's speech was 266 words long and lasted less than five minutes. It was appropriate to the time and place. It articulated the needs of the audience.

Lincoln understood his audience well. He cared deeply about them and the occasion. He clearly stated his objective. His message was brief and clear. He touched the hearts and the minds of the nation and the speech is remembered over 120 years later.

Sometimes a speaker will concentrate more on his delivery than his message. A politician was traveling through the Midwest and delivered a rousing speech with force and theatrics. Afterward, one of the farmers in attendance was stopped by a reporter. "What did he talk about?" inquired the newsman. "I don't know," the farmer replied, "he didn't say."

When you speak, say something of value and say it so that your audience will remember it. Now that you have decided upon your specific objective and analyzed your audience, what is your message? The message is sometimes referred to as the central theme or main thesis. Your message focuses your content toward your chosen objective. How do you get your audience to identify, support, buy, volunteer or enjoy? Your message not only includes the main idea, but also indicates the profit value to the audience.

For an informative speech, decide on the thesis, which captures the essence of your information. In a persuasive speech, pinpoint the action or belief you want the audience to adopt. Your message should be so clear that when someone else asks, "What did he say?" a member of your audience can easily repeat it.

Here are two examples of experiences I've had choosing messages appropriate for their objectives and suitable for their specific audiences. A client was addressing a women's group. She was selling a tour to the Orient to prospective travelers. Her topic was travel in the Far East. Her objective was to get members of her audience to sign up for the trip and leave a $100 deposit. Her message was, the Orient offers some of the most exotic living, finest dining and incredible bargains in shopping. You can have the vacation of a lifetime exploring these unique spots with me.

My client could have selected a different message. For example, if she had been speaking to a group of university instructors, she might have emphasized the historical sites or the architecture and beautiful art or even opportunities to see education in different cultures. Her objective would have remained the same, to sell the tours. But for the academics, her message would have been different.

In another instance, my topic was listening skills, my audience was real estate agents. My objective: when I finished speaking, they would be able to identify good and bad listening habits, would be ready to start practicing new skills in listening the next day, selling real estate. The message was, there are six easily acquired listening skills, which can result in increased productivity and compensation. You can talk on the same subject to several different audiences, but your particular message and your objective may be different with each one.

Now, here are two things you can do to be sure that you are saying the right things at the right time to the appropriate audience:

First, be absolutely clear what you want your audience to remember or to do at the end of your talk and make sure that your every word moves in that direction.

Second, tailor and design your talk so that it is phrased in the most appropriate way for the specific type of people that you are speaking to at the moment. The same talk and material can be given different ways to different audiences at different times.


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