What is Your Message?

All speeches carry a message, so you need to know the purpose of your speech.
Is it to inform, persuade, motivate, entertain or perhaps have a combination of these?

Determine your purpose by asking questions
To decide on the purpose of your speech ask yourself some questions.
Do you want to convey facts? Your purpose is to be informative.
Are you aiming to persuade? Your purpose is to be persuasive.
Is your purpose to bring about a change or create action? Your purpose is to motivate.
Do you want to tell a story or create laughter? Your purpose is to entertain.
Or do you want to have a mixture of two or more of the above to develop an engaging speech?

A good speech has a clear purpose and when the purpose is clear there is no uncertainty in the minds of the audience. It contains material which is relevant to the speaker’s goals and relevant to the audience’s needs.

More questions to ask
Thinking about your audience, ask yourself:
What do you want the audience to enjoy, learn or do?
If you are making an argument, why do you want them to agree with you?
Are they likely to agree with you, or if they already agree with you, why are you giving the speech?
How can the audience benefit from what you are saying?

Choose your speech topic
Example topic: ‘The gift of donating blood’

Specific purpose statement
As soon as you know your purpose you can write a specific purpose statement. This statement will guide you to plan your speech in a logical manner.
For example one which includes the purpose to inform, persuade and entertain:
I will inform the audience with the facts about blood donation.
I will persuade the audience to become donors or continue their donations.
I will include anecdotes to provide some entertaining moments during my motivational speech.

Central message
When you have your specific purpose statement then focus on your central message by composing a clear concise statement based on your topic.
For example:
The central message is based on the practice and benefits of donating blood as a donor and the benefits for patients.

Appealing to your audience
What does the audience have in common? (Interests, age, gender, ethnicity, employment)
Why are they going to listen to you? Are they looking for something?
How much do they know about your topic?
Will you be introducing new ideas?
What content and style of delivery will connect with the audience?
What tone will effectively convey your message?
What level of detail will be required?
What could offend or alienate them?

(Also refer to the Speaking Made Easy blog, Know Your Audience)

With your purpose clear and your message known, write your speech
All speeches need an audience-grabbing introduction
The number of main points to be developed will depend on the length of your speech.
The conclusion should be linked to your introduction and be memorable.

Remember, knowing your purpose and central message is vital to presenting an interesting and engaging speech.