Are you up in the air for how to plan your speech?

Let’s cut to the chase. You have a speech or presentation to give in the near future. You have an idea about your chosen or assigned topic. You have a clue about the audience and who they are. When it comes to duration, you have a timeframe you are shooting for. And, well…that’s about it.

The stress is building as your speech delivery date sneaks closer. However, with these few pieces above about your speech in place, you are actually closer to preparing a slam-dunk presentation than you might think! By following these best practices below for preparing content for an effective speech, with a bit of practice you will be set to deliver a strong presentation. And you will reduce your speech anxiety a ton because you will know you are truly prepared when it comes to your content and how to “spin” it to get the results you are after.

Best Practices for Developing Speech Content

Topic Choose something you are passionate about
Delivery Date Plan to have content prepared 1 week prior – so you have time to practice!
Duration Range of minutes?
Purpose Identify your speech purpose with this topic
Audience What response to your topic do you anticipate?
Speech Goal “By the end of my speech I want my audience to __________ .” (…understand, take action, or what?) Name the result(s) you are after.
WIIFM? Identify “What’s In It for Me?” from your audience’s perspective. WHY will they want to listen? How will they benefit?
Introduction How will you capture the attention of your audience? (…startling statement, rhetorical question, personal story, etc.)
Clear Main Points Logically order these points. Support each with information that adds to your credibility. (…you’ve researched, you’re knowledgeable, your experience, etc.)
Conclusion How will you wrap up? Revisit the purpose of your speech, summarize main points, and state what it is you hope audience will do with this information.
Visual Aid(s) What can you show your audience that will reinforce what you are saying, without distracting from YOU? When is timing optimal to show visual aid? Plan transitions to and from it.

With these steps completed during your speech content preparation work, you are set up to practice your speech with confidence. You will have the right “stuff” to make your speech interesting, and to lead your audience to your desired speech end results/response – beyond your desire to “get it over with!”

Dr. Heidi Scott – Interpersonal Communication & Public Speaking Instructor