The Goal of a Speech or Presentation: Change

Christopher Witt —  February 4, 2014

The goal of any speech or presentation is the same: change.

The only reason to give a talk is because you want to bring about some change in your audience. To change what they know or, more importantly, how they think. To change how they feel. And, perhaps most importantly of all, to change how they act.

The biggest mistake speakers make in preparing a speech or presentation is the failure to define its goal: what they want from the audience.

If you’re not trying to change the audience in some way, you’re wasting their time and yours.

Leaving people exactly as they are, in their habitual ways of believing, belonging, and behaving, may be — to your thinking — perfectly fine. If that’s the case, pat them on the back and send them on their way. Just don’t give them a speech.

You can’t make people change, of course. You can only create conditions, or expose people to ideas, images, emotions, and experiences that make it possible for them to change.

So the next time you have a speech to give, or you plan a presentation, ask yourself how you want the audience to change as a result of listening to you.

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.