Define Your Spot When You Speak

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Have you listened to a speech that does not seem to flow to a particular message? Or have you given one yourself? One of the reasons this happens is when you missed to establish your spot.

Consider playing darts – To notch the score you want, you need first to define the specific spot you want to hit. Before you throw your pin, you need to pinpoint that spot first. Otherwise, the essence of throwing that pin in the first place would not matter anymore. The same is required whenever we communicate; we need to identify what spot to hit before we start writing or speaking. In other words, we need to define our objective.

Last Sunday, we talked about the importance of developing our communication skills. No matter how technical your work is, these skills are necessary. In this series, we are going to discuss some fundamentals when it comes to communication, zooming into the area of public speaking.

There is a reason why we speak. We communicate a certain message because we want to achieve a certain objective. In public speaking or composition writing, we are always asked, ‘What is your purpose?’

When we are clear with our purpose, it would be much easier to organize the piece, research and select supporting data, and craft how it is going to be delivered. If we are not clear with our purpose, we would lose time, effort and resources – not just ours but also our audience’s.

In my book, there could be three general purposes: to inform, to inspire, and to instigate.

To inform. You simply want to present information. It could be about the fundamentals of a certain subject, specialized skills in the subject, or the process and procedures to do something. Examples of a speech to inform are lectures delivered in the classroom, briefing or orientation on a new policy, and demo talks on how to cook. News reports given by broadcasters on TV, although of special kind, are also of the purpose to inform.

To inspire. You want to uplift your audience’s spirit and ask them to achieve their goals, ideals and aspirations. Some call this a motivational speech but experts would say that it is more appropriate to call it inspirational speech; after all, a speaker can give messages to inspire a person but only that person will be able to motivate himself. Speeches given during graduation ceremonies to lift the students’ spirits up and ask them to move forward to their dreams are examples of this type. A speech given by a priest or pastor to his flock to encourage them and give them hope could also be of this kind.

A speech given by author and speaker Nick Vujicic sharing his life story of how he lives his life despite having no limbs is inspirational in itself. The story of Bo Sanchez saying, “Your Past Does Not Define Your Future” is inspiring. Stories of transformation from pain to progress, from poverty to abundance, from struggles to success are inspirational.

To instigate. You want to move them into action, either you want to persuade them or entertain them.

In a speech to persuade, you want change their stand, agree with you, accept your point of view, or get what you offer. Speeches to sell a product or service, and campaign speeches of politicians during election periods are speeches to persuade.

In a speech to entertain, you want to bring the audience into a moment of enjoyment or fun. Although it is not always required, the speaker who wants to entertain would bring the audience into moments of laughter.

There could be an overlap among these three purposes. Sometimes, there is a bit of entertainment when you inform or inspire. To be able to persuade, you also need to put in information. This classification is not a clear cut division of what to put in your piece but rather to pinpoint the main objective of your speech so that you are guided; and this speech purpose should be the main focus of your content, organization and delivery.

When we are clear with the purpose, our efforts and process will be more focused. Our time to prepare, write and deliver the message will be right on target. When we know what we want to accomplish when we communicate, we (the speaker) and the audience (listener) is on a solid ground – waste of time, effort and resources will be minimized and both parties will benefit. When we have this spot in mind, our chances of hitting that much needed score is increased. So, remember to define your spot whenever you speak.

(Chris Dao-anis/CPA, as an author and speaker, helps aspiring and young professionals become better communicators and leaders. His first book ‘The Gift of the Ordinary’ is available at Mt. Cloud Bookshop, Casa Vallejo, Upper Session Road, Baguio City and in Central Bookstores in Cebu and Metro Manila. He gives seminars on public speaking, effective communication in the workplace, and personal branding. Visit www.chrispoweracademy.com or email chrisdaoanis@ymail.com.)

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