5 Tips to Clarify the Intended Result for Your Audience

As I said in a previous post, content without application may puff up, but it rarely transforms.

Let that one sink in for a minute.

I will never forget a conference that I attended with my wife in the Southeastern part of the United States (I’m not disclosing the exact location in order to guard the identify of the organization and the conference). We looked forward to the trip for weeks. We planned to stay with friends, learn interesting information, and relax while on the trip.

I wish I would have asked more people about this conference beforehand. It was one of the most boring and exhausting conferences I’ve ever attended in my life.

Rarely did any of the speakers apply the information they shared to the audience’s life. It felt like the speakers expected the audience to open up their brains, the speakers would unload information in, and we would all leave happy.

The speakers failed to connect brilliant information to our lives. It wasn’t the content of their speeches that dissapointed everyone, it was the lack of application of the content to our lives in their speeches.

You probably have experienced this type of situation a time or two in your life as a listener. I think most speakers have dropped the ball in this way themselves as well. I know I have.

intended result

Here are a few ways to clarify the intended result of your speech for your audience:

1) Know Your Audience

If you don’t first know your audience, you will never successfully apply your message to their life. Where do they live? Make sure you know the average financial status of the people there. What challenges do they battle each week?

If you don't know your audience, you'll never successfully apply your message to their life. Click To Tweet

I’ve heard many speakers say that they don’t know this information. That’s okay. Ask someone. Find out and find out before you speak.

2) Give Concrete Examples

Concrete examples help people to see themselves doing what you would like for them to do. If you know what they are facing, you can better apply your speech to their life by putting flesh on your speech with a tangible example that connects with their life.

3) Don’t Generalize Your Message

When you stay overly general, it has the opposite effect than we often think. We think that if we stay general that everyone will see how the message applies. But when speaking to a group, you have to pick segments of your audience and apply the message to them so that people can see specifically how your information works itself out in their life.

While speaking to an audience in South Carolina once, I took the time to look up the scores of the recent athletic events in South Carolina, read local newspapers, and made sure that I knew the issues my audience faced before I arrived.

During my speech (as much as it pains me to admit this) I shared a story about my recent trip to watch the University of North Carolina Tarheels football team play against the South Carolina Gamecocks. What a painful story to tell! (the Tarheels lost). But what happened is that I used a story that connected to their lives, that everyone there was interested in, and that allowed me to ensure my speech that day fit the context of the people I was speaking to.

4) Pick a Very Specific Action (or 3 but no more)

Pick a very specific action. Make it brief. Make it precise. Don’t talk about it for 25 minutes. Just say it.

Sometimes you’ll want to ask people to do 10 or 15 things. Don’t do this. Try to limit yourself to one specific action if you can. If picking one action presents too much of a challenge for you, you can add up to three without confusing your audience. I would challenge you to ask yourself why you can’t limit it to one. How could you clarify your message further to ensure that you can reduce it to just one?

The reality is that people will rarely remember all three action steps. In fact, I’ve found that speakers struggle to effectively get an audience to remember just one.

5) Put Time Limits on the Action Step

People like a challenge. If you give a generic action step that can be done anytime, the likelihood of it getting done decreases. Challenge people with the intended result and the time you expect them to complete it.

Put time limits on the action you want them to take. Make sure people know that you want them to get it done by a certain date and time.

One helpful way to not only clarify the intended result but to see it as well is to request that people email you, download something from your website, or post somBegin Your Speech with a Bang ething on social media letting you know.

Make sure to clarify the intended result of your next speech. Your audience will appreciate it. The host of the event will appreciate it. Everyone involved will be happier (including you).

Take one step before the end of the day Monday to clarify the intended result of your next speech. Don’t spend much time. But do so and let me know in the comments area below what you do.

This post is part of a series of posts on Public Speaking. Feel free to check out any post in the series.
1) Public Speaking Tips for Leaders
2) 10 Intentional Public Speaking Gestures
3) 10 Ways to Clarify Your Message As a Public Speaker
4) 5 Tips to Clarify Your Intended Result for Your Audience
5) 7 Ways to Begin Your Public Speech With a Bang
6) 7 Steps to Practice Beforehand as a Public Speaker
7) 10 Ways to Use Repetition in Public Speaking
8) 7 Step Process to Plan for Silence in Your Speaking
9) 5 Ways to Match the Message to a Mission
10) 10 Ways to Evaluate Your Public Speaking