A Checklist for Speakers
In other columns (December, 2002) I've discussed the importance of speakers knowing their audiences. My book,
Speaking Effectively, tells how to adjust a speech to fit situations and audiences. Here is a checklist of questions to consider before you even begin to prepare your presentation:
- What's the occasion?
- Who will the audience be?
- How many are expected to attend?
- Where will I speak?
- What time do I begin?
- What does my audience expect of me?
- How can I gain and hold their attention?
- How should I organize my presentation?
- What kind of supporting material should I use for my ideas?
- What kind of language or cultural differences might exist?
- Will there be a question-and-answer period?
- Will audience members interrupt with questions?
- How long should my talk last?
- If I start late am I still expected to end at a certain time?
- Am I supposed to speak on a certain subject, or is the choice mine?
- What does this audience already know about my subject?
- Will I be able to use visual aids? If so, what type will work best?
- How will the audience be dressed?
- How should I dress?
- Will I be standing behind a lectern?
- Will I be using a microphone? What kind? Cordless? Handheld?
- If I drive to the place, where will I park?
- Will somebody meet me?
- Who will introduce me? Does this person need information from me?
These are just a few of the questions about your audience and the situation that you will want answered. Answering the appropriate questions before you even start to prepare will help you give a quality presentation.