Public Speaking Objectives:
What do you Want to Say, Anyway?
This really is the question, isn't it? Sometimes, people are assigned
to create and produce a presentation when the goal of the presentation
is elusive, at best. If this happens to you, I would encourage you to
meet with your manager and ask what the goal of the presentation is. There
are managers who will bristle at this questioning. But, fortunately, there
are some well-informed managers who really do know why they are asking
you to create a presentation.
Think about these issues:
Are there more than two or three people who need to be informed about
this information? If so, a presentation might well be the best way to
get the information out consistently.
Is the proposed presentation designed to showcase you and your knowledge?
Is it primarily a developmental opportunity? And, if so, who will you
Is the proposed presentation to be designed to address concerns of a
particular section of the population, and, if so, why is this the case?
Have others presented on this topic? How can you access the information
they have presented?
What do your "hearers" need to hear?
Is there an action you want your listeners to take as a result of
listening to your presentation? If so, what is that action?
Is there a question (or questions) your presentation should answer,
and what is that question?
Let's think about this situation as an example. Your company is
rolling out a new benefits program because the company has been acquired
by a new parent company. Spend a couple of minutes writing down what you
think the concerns of the employees may be. Here are some examples:
Will I be able to go to the same doctors?
How much will all this cost?
How are "well" visits covered?
What are the differences between what we have now and the new program?
What about my medicines? Can I go to the same pharmacy? How much will
my medications cost?
What if I have to go to the hospital? What hospitals are in the plan?
How about filling out the forms? Is there anyone who can explain them
This list is easy to generate, isn't it? And that's because
these are the same questions you would ask. So these questions, and others
you generate or hear discussed, should form the content of your presentation.
You also need to be sure there are avenues for your audience to ask questions
privately in this case. This is a touchy subject! Someone may not want
to ask if the drugs their invalid child needs are covered under the plan.
But they need to know this information. Make sure they have a way to get
this information, even it it's not during the presentation.
So the bottom line is to figure out what your audience needs to hear,
and how you can meet those needs. Not so difficult is it?