There is no avoiding it. All students, whether at the high school or university level, will at some point be required to prepare and deliver an oral presentation. When you stop to consider the fact that the fear of public speaking often ranks higher than the fear of death on opinion polls, it is no surprise that many high school and college students find themselves paralyzed with terror when faced with the aspect of preparing a speech. However, by following the simple rules of focusing their research and analyzing their audience, students can prepare for their presentations with as little pain as possible.
There are two points to remember when writing a speech.
Choose a Focused Topic
This is the most important step of all in creating an effective speech, for obvious reasons. However, many students have the most difficulty with this integral first step, and their speeches suffer for it. It is absolutely vital that when choosing a speech topic that the subject be a focused one.
For example, a student may be asked to prepare a ten-minute speech about an important problem. Struck with a brief moment of inspiration, she decides to prepare a speech on the important problem of world hunger. She gathers her pen and notebook, checks out research materials, and finds a comfy spot in the library, and then realizes she has absolutely no idea where to begin!
The problem here is that she has chosen a topic that is unfocused. World hunger is a topic that has been discussed for countless hours by thousands of scholars and world leaders and an incalculable amount of material has been published about it. There is little chance that she will be able to effectively cover the topic of world hunger during a ten-minute speech. While it is true that she could easily produce ten minutes worth of material on such an unfocused topic, this material would be so broad and general that no one would be likely to have gained anything from having heard it.
To remedy this situation, she must narrow the scope of her topic until it is focused enough for a ten-minute presentation. Instead of world hunger, she could narrow the topic to the problem of hunger in Africa. This is a great first step, but once again the topic may be too broad for a ten-minute speech. Narrowing the topic even further, she chooses the problem of hunger in the African nation of Somalia. Even better, but the topic could be narrows even further for ten minutes worth of information. She chooses the problem of hunger in the nation of Somalia due to that country's civil war, and the topic is sufficiently focused.
To illustrate this narrowing process: World Hunger - Hunger in Africa - Hunger in Somalia - Hunger Caused by Somalia's Civil War.
Analyze The Audience
It is also vitally important to examine the audience for your speech. You must know who they are, what their interests are, and their level of education regarding your chosen topic. This will allow you to decide the type of information provided within your speech, as well as the methods that will be used to present it.
For example, the level of academic information provided within a speech that will be delivered to university students will have to differ greatly from the information in a speech that will be delivered to grade school students. A speech topic delivered to experts on that topic will have to be very detailed and precise, examining the finer points of the subject. However, if the audience has no prior experience or information regarding the speech topic, the information will need to be much more broad.
Also, the methods used to write and present your speech will vary in respect to your target audience. If the speech is being presented to a grade school audience, it is not necessary to provide handouts and create a multi-media presentation. However, if your target audience is well educated about your topic (and is familiar with different types of speech outlines), it may be a good idea to provide as many supplemental materials as possible.
* Reference: How to Plan and Give Your Speech
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