- It should be meaningful and important to your audience.
- It should be important and interesting to you personally.
- It should be tailored to your particular audience so that it is relevant to their interests.
- It should be something about which you already have some knowledge.
- It should be limited so that you can learn enough about it to make a responsible presentation.
- It should be appropriate for the time, place, and occasion of the speech.
As you choose a topic, develop your general and specific purposes, and phrase your own central idea, consider a number of important questions. If you are unable to answer the following questions with a "yes," you still have more thinking and refining ahead of you:
- Am I genuinely interested in my topic?
- Am I willing to research the topic to enhance my knowledge of it?
- Will an exploration of this topic benefit my listeners?
- Is my topic suitable for this particular speaking situation?
- Will my listeners find a discussion of my topic worthwhile and interesting?
- Have I narrowed my topic sufficiently to fit the speaking time allotted to me?
- Have I identified a general speech purpose appropriate to the assignment or speaking situation?
- Have I formulated a clear, specific purpose?
- Have I composed a behavioral objective that identifies the specific response I desire from audience members?
- Have I phrased my central idea so that it helps me control the development of my speech?
Effective speaking begins with effective planning. By this point in your speech preparation, you know yourself and your relationship to your audience better, and you have a better handle on your speech topic. By becoming selective, by making careful choices, you have begun your efforts to focus your content. Just doing this will help you communicate more clearly, more concisely, and more confidently. Concentrating your focus will better enable you to get your message across.
And that's what matters!
From Joe Zubrick, University of Maine.
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