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Speech 107

Speech 107 guide provides assistance to students who are currently in Speech 107.

Preparing Great Speeches: A 10-Step Approach

The ten steps are from Steven Brooks, a former Communications Department faculty member at Northern Kentucky University. You can find this information and more by visiting the following website: Preparing great speeches: A 10-step approach

1. Know your audience

Whether you are presenting a paper or giving a speech, you need to analyze your audience first and foremost. It is easy to alienate an audience by not examining the characteristics of the group, what they know and what they want to know. Be aware of the audience’s attitudes and beliefs in general, toward you and the topic. Consider age, socioeconomic status, and educational level.

2. Know the occasion

 Occasion analysis includes looking at room size (i.e., whether there are enough chairs for everyone affects the comfort level of the group which in turn affects its response to your message), the arrangement of space (can everyone see you?), and the acoustics (there’s nothing more exasperating than having to strain to hear a speaker). Be conscientious about time limits too—if you are allotted 15 minutes, then prepare your speech or presentation accordingly. Also, make sure your message matches the occasion. It would be inappropriate, for example, to speak about a serious topic at a happy event.

3. Select a topic

Selecting a topic can some- times occur first, stemming from the audience and occasion, as in the case of a paper being accepted for a conference. If you need to pick a topic, however, be sure it is one that is interesting to you. It is also a good idea to be a little more knowledgeable about the subject than your audience, but interest is crucial. If you do not have enthusiasm for the subject matter, neither will your audience.

4. Select a purpose

For this step, determine the general purpose of your speech or presentation. Are you informing, presenting, or entertaining? Beyond the general purpose, decide on a specific purpose, what you want your audience to specifically think or do (e.g., I want my audience to understand the three benefits of holding a faculty workshop on preparing library assignments). It is helpful at this stage to write down the central idea or thesis statement of your talk as well.

5. Gather potential content

If you are presenting a paper, you have already done this step. If not, this is the research phase where you gather information through printed sources, interviews, discussion with others, and your own expertise.

6. Gather more content than actually used

Sort through your material choosing only the strongest and best material for your talk. This step allows you the luxury of editing and, if need be, recognizing any information gaps that need to be filled.

7. Organize content

Organize your ideas based on the audience, occasion, and purpose of your presentation . Follow the standard organizational format of introduction, body, and conclusion. Outline the body of your talk first, limiting it to three or four main points with sufficient supporting material to back up those points. After you have outlined the body of your speech or paper, prepare the introduction and conclusion. Your introduction should start out with an attention- getter which can be an anecdote, a quotation, a question, a joke, or whatever is appropriate for the topic and audience. The conclusion should include a summary of the main points (tell them what you’ve told them) and a final statement that leaves the audience with something to think about or remember.

8. Phrase the speech

Usually, a type of delivery most appropriate is the extemporaneous delivery. With extemporaneous speaking, you are thoroughly prepared and practiced, but the exact wording of the speech is determined at the time you actually speak the words. You want to avoid memorizing your talk; instead, know your key ideas and translate them into words as you speak. 

9. Prepare visual aids

Visual aids, if appropriate for your speech or presentation, can help your audience remember your points and clarify information. Make sure the audience can see the visual aid; show the visual aid only when you are referring to it; and talk to the audience, not to the visual aid.  Additionally, if you have audience handouts, distribute them at the end of your talk if possible. An audience’s attention can shift easily to a handout instead of staying focused on you.

10. Practice, practice, practice

Practicing your presentation or speech contributes directly to your success as a speaker. As you practice, consider both your verbal and nonverbal delivery. Vocal delivery includes volume, rate, and pitch. Strive for vocal variety which is the variation of these elements—loudness/softness (volume), fastness/slowness (rate), highness/lowness (pitch). An expressive voice will engage an audience; a monotonous, flat voice will lose one. Also, remember that nonverbal delivery carries as much weight as verbal. Eye contact with your audience is crucial, and this means actually looking at audience members. As for posture, don’t slouch, and avoid shifting your weight from foot to foot. Also, movement is fine, but only if it is controlled, your audience does not want to feel it is at a tennis match. Gesturing can be an effective element of your talk, but only if it’s controlled as well. There are certainly other elements of verbal and nonverbal delivery to investigate when practicing your speech or paper. Your goal is to sound spontaneous and feel comfortable, so time spent practicing is necessary. It is a good idea to practice in a situation as close to the real one as possible, and in front of friends or with a tape recorder.  

Even if you follow these ten steps, you probably will experience some nervousness before or during your talk. This “energy” is an asset and evidence that you care about the quality of your presentation. However, if you have prepared well and practiced enough, you will lessen your apprehension considerably. Also, think positively as you prepare, rehearse, and actually deliver your message. Positive thoughts can make a difference in the quality of your speech or presentation.

Websites on Research for Speeches

Research and Organize Your Speech

Steps in the Speech Making Process

How to Give an Effective Speech