Chapter 3: Developing Compelling Presentations

Forming the Skeleton of Your Speech

Chapter 1 provides a great framework for outlining your speech. As a review, start by using your main points as the major headings in your outline. Leave at least five lines between each heading. As you plug in the supporting evidence in the lines under each point, consider what information would be interesting and compelling. If you can't find at least three supporting elements for a particular main point then you may consider combining it with another main point. In the case of a speech, less is more. Your audience is more likely to remember fewer, points that drive home a strong message than a long list of points that aren't compelling.

As you organize your outline, shift the main points around to match the order you plan to present them. You'll add other interesting, helpful and even amusing details as you continue planning your talk.

Conducting Your Research

This step is essential to developing an effective speech. Essentially there are two categories of research: primary and secondary. Primary research is research you conduct yourself while secondary research is already available through books, publications, study, articles, and other means.

Here are some ways you can gather information for your speech:

Interviews: Think of the person or organization that could offer the best insight on the topic of your speech and set up an interview. Interviews may be conducted by phone or face-to-face. Most organizations have a media or press office and will help you connect with the right person; you just need to reach out to them. Whether your interview is by phone or in person, you should have at least 10 thought-provoking questions prepared. They should be open-ended, challenging questions and you need to leave space for final comments. Before the interview, get some background information on the company through pamphlets, brochures, and other materials.

Surveys: These serve as primary research if you conduct them yourself or secondary research if you get them from the library or research company. If you develop your own survey, try not to make it too long or you won't get many responses. You should include mostly multiple choice questions that include an "other" alternative so respondents can write in an answer.

Computer Searches: Though computer searches offer an easy and quick method for gathering information, you should be wary of research you get off the Internet. Check the source to ensure that it's reputable and look at the site for clues on whether it's updated regularly. Also, keep good records of the information that you use and where you got the information.

Periodicals – Newspaper, Magazines, and Other Publications: Magazines, journals, and newspapers have current information on a variety of topics. Books take a more in depth approach and are often written by experts on a particular subject matter. Though periodicals may or may not be written by subject matter experts, they have the timeliest data. As with other sources, always cite where you got the information.

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