Arranging Your Presentation – the Informative Speech

How to successfully order the speech that’s essentially a lesson.

Arranging Your Presentation – the Informative Speech

In my last post I gave tips on how to structure a persuasive speech, so in this one I’m turning my attention to the other speech type we deliver most in the world of work: the information-giving talk.

Before we get to the nitty-gritty of actually structuring this presentation, we need to ask ourselves two very important questions.

Question 1: What does my audience absolutely need to know?

You need to ask this because you’ll know vast amounts about your topic but, if you tell the audience everything you know, you run the risk of boring its pants off. Separate what it needs to know from what you think it might be interested to know. The information in the latter list probably needs to go.

Question 2: What’s the audience’s knowledge of my topic?

So if you’re speaking to an audience that’s almost as well versed as you then hurrah, you don’t need to consider the presentation content or your language any further. But if you’re speaking to a novice audience or a mixed-knowledge audience, then you need to consider how you’re not going to bamboozle or lose it.

Once you have the answers to the above questions, you can begin to structure your information-giving talk.

A point-by-point for structuring the informative presentation

  1. Grab the audience’s attention.
  2. Impress upon your audience why it needs to absorb and maybe also act upon the information you’re about to give it. How will the information improve their lives? What are the potential perils for your audience if it doesn’t absorb your information? Of course, it’s very satisfying when these are super-tangible, i.e. more client interest, a more effective way of working, a potentially better drug etc, but don’t worry if they’re more abstract; your information might help to solve confusion, frustration, hopelessness etc.
  3. Set out your information in an interesting but audience-pertinent manner. For ideas on how to do this take a look at my earlier series 'Making the Information-giving Speech Enjoyable' part 1, part 2 and part 3. Two thirds of your talk needs to be dedicated to this section. The informative speech really benefits from humour, so think how you can weave some in during this stage.
  4. Draw a verbal picture of how life might look or feel after your information has been absorbed and maybe acted upon. The information-giving speech runs the risk of being dry so ensure that it reaches a satisfying crescendo that’s also emotionally moving. It’s ludicrous to even want your audience to sob at the end of it, but you should want them to feel optimistic.

Next post - ‘Grabbing the audience’s attention’

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