First, you need to pick a topic that will appeal to your audience members. To be appealing to audience members, a topic must be:
- Dealt with at a stimulating level: If you are merely teaching the audience information that they already know, you will certainly bore them. If you teach them information that is “over their heads”, you will lose their attention and interest. The key is to find a happy medium, new information that they will readily grasp.
- Dealt with creatively: Surprise your audience. Think about your topic in unexpected ways. Don’t merely step behind the podium with a modified version of an essay you wrote in another class. Be an entertainer. When an audience is entertained, they pay closer attention.
Your audience will also appreciate it if you pick a topic that is relevant to their lives. Whether we care to admit it or not, deep down, we all have one primary interest: ourselves. If your audience does not see a personal benefit that they will receive by listening to your speech, the speech will not be very appealing.
When presenting an informative speech, it is important to have proper supporting material to enhance your audience’s understanding of your topic. Some forms of support include:
- Examples – It’s difficult to listen to someone speaking about an abstract idea with which you have little familiarity. As a listener in this situation, you are forced to do a lot of mental work and you may or may not fully grasp what the speaker is trying to say. It’s a whole different experience when the speaker uses an example that illustrates the abstract idea. For example (ha-ha), a speaker might be talking about poor economic conditions in a certain area of the country. Rather than just leaving the concept of a “poor economy” as an idea, they should speak about the specific struggles of real live people with names and anecdotes.
- Statistics – People tend to avoid statistics in a speech because they are afraid that people will find them boring. To the contrary, statistics can be interesting and informative if used correctly. The key is to pick statistics that are particularly startling or shocking. You can’t build an entire speech around statistics, of course. However, as long as the statistics add to the quality of the speech, and they don’t misrepresent the situation, they can be used liberally.
- Facts – A good informative speech is filled with facts. A “fact” is any bit of information that be verified as being “true”. Whenever you present facts in a speech, you should cite the source of those facts so that the audience believes them (and you) to be credible.
- Expert Opinion – An informative speech is not the time for your personal opinion, that time will come on the persuasive speech. Expert opinion, however, can and should be used in an informative speech. Expert opinion involves using excerpts and quotations from people who are highly respected in the field about which you are speaking. It is important to state the credentials of the person whom you are quoting, if the audience is not familiar with this person. Otherwise, your quote will not have much impact.
Whatever forms of support you may be using in your informative speech, it is important to select those sources carefully. Make sure that you are using up-to-date information. Make sure you are using unbiased sources (these can be especially hard to find on the Internet). And finally, make sure that you are working from a broad base of information. Do not base your entire speech on information found in a single source.