Specific Purpose

specific purpose illustrationOnce speakers have identified the general purpose and topic, they can begin narrowing and refining their message using a funnel approach, moving from general information toward more specific information. One method of accomplishing this task is to re-frame the question “What do I talk about?” to “What do I want my audience to know or do, once they leave the room?” Answer that question by filling in the unknowns left behind by the general purpose discussed earlier: 1) To inform the audience about________, or 2) To persuade the audience to___________ .

Keep in mind that the specific purpose should only address one idea. If the specific purpose clumps together multiple, unrelated, or distantly related concepts with an “and” or two, then then the speaker has sufficiently failed to refine the topic. Using a specific purpose like this will likely result in a speech that comes across as choppy, disorganized, and confusing for the audience to follow. However, using the nested brainstorming method mentioned earlier could easily lead to a well-defined specific purpose like: “To inform my audience about the effects of mindfulness on health.”

Choose the specific purpose carefully and think critically, because from that point forward, everything in the speech will go toward fulfilling that specific purpose. Furthermore, when composing the outline, return to this specific purpose often to ask, “Does this information further the attempt to achieve this purpose?” A great tip for accomplishing this task is to write down the specific purpose on a sticky note and then placing it somewhere visible within the workspace. The specific purpose ultimately keeps a speaker focused on a single goal, preventing them from getting off-track or off-topic, which, depending on the length of the speech, can be easy to do, especially with longer presentations.



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Messages that Matter: Public Speaking in the Information Age - Third Edition Copyright © 2023 by North Idaho College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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