Author’s Note: Last year during my one year stint in Philadelphia, I met up with this amazing guy, JJ at a speech contest. We became fast friends after that. Who won’t especially after you learn that he is as crazy about public speaking as you are AND he is cool about exchanging speaking pointers over beer and buffalo wings? Enjoy the article below penned by Mr Charismatic!
A topic that is often addressed in public speaking is how – How do I overcome anxiety? How do I deliver statements with maximum impact? How do I organize the contents of my speech? – but very seldom do we address the why. Why do we give speeches, and what should be our purpose?
I assert that the purpose of every speech should be to change the audience in at least one specific way. By the time you are finished the speech each member of the audience should walk away with some specific course of action in mind, and while this particular action may be different for each individual member, one may measure the success of their speech by the number or percentage of audience members that leave and take action based on the information given in your speech.
This metaphysical principle has certain implications for the how part of public speaking. For instance, every speech should be written around the action you want your audience to take. It should read out like a poetic math problem, where every single point adds up to your final point, and it needs to be clear that it would be more reasonable for the audience to follow your intended course of action than to maintain the status quo.
Furthermore, if you fail to give your audience a specific course of action at the end of your speech, then your speech has no point. This means you have wasted the audience’s time, and you have failed as a speaker.
This is what differentiates a speech from stand-up comedy, theatre, or other forms of verbal communication – the point of a speech is to have a point.
So from now on, when you write your speeches, start by thinking about what course of action you want your audience to take. Then select a story or set of stories that will illustrate and prove your point. Years after your speech has concluded, you need to be sure that even if the audience cannot remember a word of your speech, they remember the point that you were trying to make. After that, it is up to them.