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Care About your Topic

You don’t have to be madly in love with it, or have it be one of your deepest beliefs. It could be an idea that took your fancy yesterday but – for the moment at least  – it’s intriguing to you.

You care enough to research it, discover more, try to get a handle on the idea and what lies behind it. Your interest and enthusiasm will come through to your audience. It will give life to your speech. You might not want to take questions about it, but you will have shared your pleasure in the discovery.

Sharing your pleasure is a gift. People will take away the pleasure and the interest as well as whatever facts you have shared. Which do you think they will remember longest?

But sharing an idea that concerns you deeply comes across in a different way. Suppose you believe it extremely important that more people should donate to cancer research. A deeply felt appeal will reach your audience at an emotional level and might well cause people to move towards doing that.

The danger lies in caring so deeply that you become a bit overwhelming on the subject. If you speak about it every chance you get  your listeners might get bored with it and tune out. Maybe you unintentionally indicate that this is the only useful avenue for donated money and you risk turning off those who donate to, say, world hunger or animal welfare.

Care enough about your deepest beliefs that you exercise some tact and self restraint. Save your passion for a small number of speeches about it, but make them count. Within a few tightly focused speeches collect all the pent up passion and do a first rate job of making others care as much as you do.

Caring for your topic comes in a range of strengths from temporary enthusiasm to heartfelt belief. Play the whole range as you develop your skills as a speaker. See where your strengths lie and build on them.

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Have you ever noticed how some speakers can make the most interesting topic dull, and others can bring the most boring topic to life? You and I, of course, are the latter. But how do we bring a topic to life?

How do we find the meat that makes an audience feel that was a good, filling meal of a speech? Yes, we have a dynamite opening and a memorable conclusion. Yes, we are animated and we are either knowledgeable or we have done our research.

Ah, yes! Our knowledge and our research. We know so much about it now. We are like a fox in a rabbit warren – so much to choose from. Which  information will we choose to share?

Most topics can be approached from a variety of different angles. Child poverty, for example. Third world, first world, from the point of view of an NGO, a government, an educator, a nurse, a hospital administrator? Shall we take the child’s point of view or a parent’s, or perhaps a volunteer’s viewpoint. Shall we look at reasons for childhood poverty or possible solutions? That’s just for starters.

You can use facts (sparingly – most of them will be forgotten anyway) A few dramatic facts will hit home most forcibly – x million children go to bed hungry each night, in Africa x % of children die before the age of five.

Tailor your approach and the facts you select to your audience. Spend time deciding which information, presented in which way, will most strongly pique their interest

Are they engineers who want to hear about the wells that were dug in the desert, the depth and the diameter of the pipe, the pressure of the pump? Are they teachers who can see how education can improve nutrition? Are they parents who will feel the despair of a parent with a dying child? Are they possible donors who need to hear personal stories so they understand how they can help?

Whatever your topic find time for a little humor and a little emotion to add spice to the speech.

Remember that the way you see the issue is not necessarily the way others see it. Filter your knowledge, your research for different eyes and ears. Look at the topic from several points of view, and through several different lenses.

Different people will take different things from your presentation.  Make it easy for them to discover the essence of the topic, to enjoy the feast you have prepared.

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