How to Do Research for a Speech

Whether you've been tapped to give a speech at the annual sales convention, or asked to prepare a talk for a class, community group or charity event, a great speech starts with great research. Here are some tips for gathering the material you'll need for your speech.

Steps

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    Get clear information on the topic you'll be presenting. If your topic is assigned, make sure you clarify the scope and purpose of the speech. If you are selecting the topic, be sure it's precisely defined on paper before you begin your research.
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    Find out how much time you have for the speech.
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    Make sure your topic can be covered adequately in the time provided. If it cannot, talk to the organizer about limiting the topic or expanding the time.
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    Find out exactly who you will be addressing. What are their ages, occupations, and interest in the topic? How familiar are they with the subject matter? A speech for beginners will be very different in tone and content than one for seasoned professionals.
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    Find out who if anyone has spoken on this topic to this group recently.
    • Try to get a copy or recording of that speech, if applicable, to avoid duplicating information.
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    Write down 5-10 ideas for your speech. Don't elaborate. Just write a few words for each.
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    Research each point separately. Use a variety of sources for each point.
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    Become familiar with the background on each point. Learn the history and issues surrounding each point. No information occurs in a void, so understand the context.
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    Find out who is the acknowledged "expert" in the field. See what they have to say about your topics. Also find out who, if anyone, is challenging the experts. Research what they have to say as well.
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    Note the source of any quotes, statistics or other information you plan to include directly in your speech. Include those citations in the speech.
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    Make notes for each section of your speech on note cards. Keep it to one or two sentences or keyword phrases on each card.
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    Arrange the cards in a logical order. Avoid jumping back and forth between topics.
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    Double check all the facts on your cards. Try to verify each fact with at least three unique sources. A book, a website or article, and an expert or practitioner in the field are typically three good sources.

Tips

  • If data cannot be verified, either leave it out, or acknowledge that it is unverified.
  • Make sure your sources are current. A speech by accident rates using 10 year old data will make you look foolish.

Things You'll Need

  • Note cards

Article Info

Categories: Speechwriting