Topics for Public Speaking

© ReSolve, Inc. 2008

For years, one of the most popular books we have produced has been “Building Support through Public Speaking.” Readers tell us the book has helped even those who do not do a lot of public speaking - who just want to know what to say when they are asked about the organization by friends.

There is one question, though, that we are asked repeatedly when it comes to public speaking.

What should we talk about?

 Use It Today

The key to determining what to talk about when doing public speaking will be found in the convergence of two critical factors:

What your audience wants from the talk

What your organization wants from the talk

Know What Your Audience Wants
Knowing your audience is critical when doing any talk. What are they looking for? Why are they there in the first place? What do they want to get out of hearing you speak?

The answer will depend on the group. If the group is a business networking group such as Rotary or Civitan, audience members may want to learn something to help grow their business. They may want to learn more about the community overall, about how things fit together. They may want to always be “in the know,” on top of what’s going on, both to benefit their business, and because they are involved people to begin with. They may want their community to be a better place to live, as that will enhance both their business and their lives! And so on.

If the group is a church women’s auxiliary, the answer will be quite different from the business networking group. The women in that group may want to know whether or not your work fits in with their values, to help them make other decisions re: volunteering or offering support. They may want you to energize their group, so they can accomplish more on your behalf. They may want just a great feel-good afternoon, learning about all the great things that are being done to help people in their community. They may already care about your cause, and want to take action as advocates in a legislative capacity. And so on.

And if the group is elementary school students, you can bet the answers will be different again! First, it is likely these students are not listening to you by choice, but because the teacher or Student Council or PTA has brought you in. Even aside from their age, then, their motivation will indeed be different from the church group or the networking group, simply because they may not have chosen to hear you!

The students may just want to get out of class. They may want to be entertained. They may want to learn more, as part of a particular issue they are studying in class. And so on. (And let’s not forget the motivation of their teacher or the PTA, for bringing you there in the first place!)

The more you understand the motivations of your audience - the reason they are in that room in the first place - AND the more you can meet their needs in your speech, the easier it will be to meet your own goals.

Know What Your Organization Wants
Why are you doing this speech in the first place? If the answer is, “To get the word out,” then it’s time to go back to the drawing board. What good is “getting the word out?” What do you really want all this speaking to accomplish?

Do you want the business networking group to be aware of your good work at funding time? Do you want them to directly participate in your programs - perhaps attend a theater performance, or perhaps seek help for addiction, for themselves or a family member? Do you want to motivate individual audience members to advocate for your cause with the state legislature? Or to change their own opinions and preconceptions?

Do you want the church women’s auxiliary to provide financial support? To volunteer? To help advocate for your after school program as an option for church families?

Do you want the elementary school students to learn that one is never too young to volunteer? Do you want them to collect pennies to support your cause? Do you want to educate them about an issue that might affect their families directly - perhaps nutrition or yes, even perhaps child abuse? Do you want them to participate directly in your work - perhaps through an arts program?

Crafting Your Speech
The juncture at which your desires and your audience’s desires meet is paydirt. If you want the elementary school kids to volunteer, and they want to be entertained - well you now know what topics to cover, and how to cover them!

If the church auxiliary wants to know how your work fits into their values, and you want them to provide financial support for your work - you now know what topics to cover, and from what angle.

If the networking attendees want to grow their business prospects and you want them to support your theater group, you now know what topics to cover, and from what angle.

In articles at this site and in our books, we note repeatedly that Public Speaking is one of the three most effective ways to engage community members in your mission. By finding the point at which your audience’s motivations meet your motivations, you will be crafting a speech that is aimed at true engagement - a conversation about what matters to both parties.

For tons of ideas to engage the community in your work (including great ideas for public speaking), Click


Website Design by Dimitri Petropolis