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June 2004 - A Checklist for Speakers

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John A. Kline, PhD jkline@klinespeak.com
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June 2004

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.

John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

June 2004 - A Checklist for Speakers
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