Questions Every Speaker Should Ask.

By: William Buist on : 13th October 2015: Business articles, Professional Speaking: 3 Comments

What is the speech for?

If the speech works, what will it achieve?

What action do you want the audience to take?

How will they know that is the right action for them?

The more specific your intent the riskier the speech feels (because it’s easy to see how it might fail) yet the more likely you are to deliver greatness.

Why you?

Do you have the right to give this speech? What makes you the right person, and if you know someone better, should you refer them instead?

When you know why it’s you on the stage, the audience will too, it will shine.

What’s your style?

Are you a teacher imparting new knowledge? An entertainer, providing a memorable, perhaps remarkable, performance? or a change agent, catalysing difference.

Are you an innovative creator of new ideas, researcher, commentator, reporter or narrator?,

What is the right style mix for this speech? Is that what is there?

Who is it for?

Do you really know who will be in the audience and how the things that you can influence shows up in their lives? Will what you say resonate with them? Are the contexts of your stories clear so that others can take the lessons and apply them in other contexts.

Who else is your speech affecting beyond those in the audience?

Venues and bookers are important to the process of delivery, audiences to the delivery itself, consider them all. How will the messages you give be transmitted to others who were not there, are you key takeaways clear, actionable, memorable and embedded?

How much content?

How much information are you seeking to impart? How much do the audience need right now? Are you giving (just) enough? or going too far?

Too often we give too much, and the memory plays tricks muddling points and forgetting context and connections between them. Change comes from action and for actions the need to take the action must be compelling. Better by far to motivate people to take the first step or two than to think about the journey and never start it.

Will it Share?

Have you built in the means of others taking elements of what you say and sharing it, Do you use overt instruction, or subtle indicators of what to share and when? Will what others share be inspiring and/or intriguing? How will you measure the extent of the sharing? How will you follow up with those that make the effort to share your material?

3 thoughts on Questions Every Speaker Should Ask.

  • Excellent set of questions. Every speaker should ask these of themselves. I don’t think these are just questions every professional speaker should ask. I think everyone making presentations, whether they are professionals or not, should ask themselves these questions.

    These questions would make a great handout/tips-sheet.

  • Great tips to plan any presentation or training whether speaking live or via online video, virtual training and meetings. Love the content shareability checks – even more relevant when on the mobile, tablet or laptop screen!
    Thanks William 🙂

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