Public Speaking Course:
People who I have taught in my public speaking course, know that I am really
strict about researching your program thoroughly before your presentation. When
you do this in depth research you will be able to connect with the audience on a
much deeper level.
There are many different ways that you can research material for your program.
You can try reviewing professional trade publications, searching on the
Internet, secret shopping retail establishments, and giving a pre-program
questionnaire. I do most of these research techniques for every one of my
presentations, but I feel that the telephone interview is the most effective
source of information.
Try to interview at least 15 people before your presentation. If you can, talk
with some people who are actually going to be at the meeting. If they all have
the same rank and job responsibilities, make sure that you get cross section
from geographics, short timers versus old timers and male vs female.
Be sure to get a broad range of views. Here are some questions that you can
ask some variations of in your interview.
--What are the three biggest challenges you have in getting your daily duties
-- Tell me about the organizational failures.
-- Tell me about the organizational successes.
-- Tell me anything funny that has happened at work.
Once you have all your information it is time to assemble it and create your
presentation. One of my overriding principals is to make the audience the stars.
One way to do this is to use a very positive or insightful statement that you
got from your phone interviews and project it or put it in your handout in a
A lot of times I customize my entire presentation around the quotes people I
interviewed gave to me. I weave my material in and around what they have told
me. I then give the overhead or disk to the person who gave me the information.
Overheads are much better for this because I have seen them hanging on the
bulletin board in the organization. Of course, my name and company are on it
too. Using your pre-program research will also help you build rapport and gain
an 'insiders' position because you will be exposed to the terminology of the
group. For example, you might have used the generic term manager, but instead
you found out that the term 'team leader' is used by a particular company
The information you receive can also be used to plant the seed for a future
speaking presentation or to land you more consulting work. You might say during
a presentation, 'Joe, also told me about XYZ. We don't have time to discuss that
today, but it certainly warrants some attention.' Besides promoting you, it
shows you did your homework and that you know what is going on in the group to
which you are speaking.