Research vital for speeches

Victor Mecoamere

Victor Mecoamere

Why should choosing a public speaking contest topic be as unnerving, complex or as complicated as searching for a needle in a haystack or hunting down the proverbial snowman?

Take Rorisang Thandekiso, pictured, the 2008 champion of the Anglo American and Sowetan Young Communicators Awards.

For her prepared speech she chose a simple topic. So what?

Rorisang took full advantage of the open expanse the topic gave her, boldly declaring how she was prepared to live a productive, prosperous and confident life, with all her imperfections, as long as she was happy to be herself - warts and all else.

By researching your subject well, you are preventing vagueness, inaccuracy and ambiguity - all of which are the greatest enemies of effective communication.

Ambiguity can be dangerous. This means that your subject can be understood in more than one way, and it is not clear which meaning is intended. Research will prevent this. So, research and prepare your topic.

l Brainstorming - The most basic method of accumulating information for your speech is to brainstorm.

l Jot down points on the topic as you think of them during your research.

l Write your thoughts down as quickly as possible (this is a good skill to master for impromptu speeches).

l Read over the points you have jotted down, evaluate and organise them.

l Select three or four of the most interesting points and work on getting more information about them.

l When editing your points and thoughts, be ruthless. Why? Three points that make an impact are much better than 10 points that make no impression at all.