Effective Speaking – What Does Your Audience Want?

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The first essential for an effective speaker is to be familiar with his subject, or to have such an interest in it that he is prepared to devote a lot of time to research work, so that he can make a good speech.

If you cannot find a good reason for the audience wanting to listen to you, don’t speak. Be selective. Better to give six speeches a year which are good ones, than twelve, half of which are bad. Audiences will quickly forget your good efforts, but always remember the times when you have bored or irritated them. This often happens to people in the public eye. An author may become famous because of his books. Before long he will be asked to talk on subjects far removed from his writings. Too often he accepts these invitations in his search for popularity. It takes time for him to realize that an author need not necessarily understand the implications of subjects ranging from Peace in our time to Does zoology help children?

After-dinner speakers are just as bad. They are sometimes called upon to honor someone they hardly know. They talk on and on and on, when the audience is most anxious for the speeches to end.

This kind of thing loses friends instead of winning over new ones.

What is it that the audience WANTS from you? Find that out and fill the want, and you will be an effective public speaker.

The major wants of most audiences:

To learn something.

To gain money.

To feel sentimental.

To feel pleased.

To benefit health.

To have love and affection.

To feel proud.

Self-preservation.

Amusement.

Faith.

There may be other wants, but these cover most of the ground. Think it out for yourself, and see if you can find any others.

Assuming that you have six steps in your main theme, then you have to try to fill one want with each step.

In summary, to be an effective speaker talk about a subject you know about or interested in, find out what your listeners want and fill that want. My next post will discuss how to prepare a speech to fill the audience’s wants.

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