On Critical Thought and Focus

the main content

Today we will begin discussing matter and content in public speaking

So far we have focused on the manner

in which we act and deliver our speech

Our expressions our posture our tone dynamics movement and gestures

But all of these things are simply tools

to improving our performance of a speech

In the end we still have to have something to say

What I want focus on today is

the idea of purpose in a speech and the role of critical thinking

Every public speaking situation is different

Different situations and purposes require different approaches

Sometimes the speech must be formal sometimes informal

Think about college commencement or graduation speeches

These are strictly formal occasions

that require the speaker to give advice to new or graduating students

At funerals eulogies are usually formal but sometimes informal

and the purpose of those speeches

are to remember the dead and to tell stories about them

At a wedding people give toasts and speeches

designed to wish the new married couple well

These are sometimes more informal speeches but given at a formal occasion

Think about speeches given at think tank conferences like TED

Those speeches are more informal and the setting is informal

The purpose of those speeches is to spread ideas

Essentially every occasion is different and to be a successful speaker

you must recognize and understand the occasion

Be aware of formality or informality

These may change the words you use

or the humor or jokes that you tell

It can affect the stories that you tell

and the emotion that you are supposed to have

Understand the setting

Understand what you are supposed to be doing

Your purpose Why are you giving this speech?

Your purpose is your guide 

Every speech has a general purpose

such as informing entertaining explaining persuading and convincing

From there we also have a specific purpose

What specifically are you informing your audience about?
My specific purpose in this video

is to inform you about focus and purposes in speeches

That is my goal and it guides what I am speaking about

Each of the videos in this series shares a common general purpose

but each video has a different specific purpose

So how can this help you?

People often tell me that they don’t know what they should speak about

If you know your purpose it should become much easier

Each speech

should be designed to convey at most 1 or 2 pieces of information

One professor I know says

that if he is able to communicate a single idea

in an hour of speaking then he is successful

The measurement of a successful speech

is how completely the audience understands what you are trying to tell them

or how convinced they are

or how entertained they are depending on whatever purpose you have

At its heart Public Speaking is communication

Whatever you are attempting to communicate should be the focus of what you say

Sometimes we have topics we are asked to speak on

Sometimes we speak on a topic of our choosing

Graduation speeches are one example of this

One of the first speeches that I ever wrote and performed in public

was at my high school graduation

The purpose of the speech was to reflect on our time at the school

I chose to speak about one topic in particular Change

If that seems broad it is 

But while the speech’s topic was change

I focused specifically on the way that people in my class had changed

and I juxtaposed it with the way the school itself had changed

In this way I was able to create an interesting idea

that was centered on my focus and purpose

I used specific events that happened to illustrate changes to classmates

and I spoke about specific buildings

that were renovated or even built during the time we spent there

These specific examples grounded the rest of the speech

and kept it true to its purpose

This brings me to critical thinking

In speeches the most interesting and successful ones

are the ones that display critical thinking

By this I mean they show not just an opinion

but the reasoning and the logic that led to that opinion

You should always attempt to analyze your focus

and discover the why or what you are talking about

Do not settle for telling a few stories

that are meant to represent a greater thought

Examine them

show how they are connected how they support your focus and topic

Show that you are thinking deeper than the surface

Overall understanding the occasion knowing your general and specific purpose

and then developing that purpose with critical thought

are important to creating a good speech

In the following videos

we’ll be looking at more specific ways to accomplish these goals

In the next video we’ll be discussing the difference between a written essay

meant for reading and a speech to be read aloud

Thanks for listening I’ll see you next time