Unit 5: Finding a Purpose and Selecting a Topic
More often than not, the purpose and topic of your speech will be determined for you by outside factors such as the context of your speech and its audience. Nevertheless, it remains your responsibility to narrow the topic of your speech such that it suits the nature of your audience, your own interests, and other factors associated with the setting and occasion. This unit examines all of the elements in the speech context which should influence your decisions. The operational word in the preceding sentence, however, is "should". Many inexperienced speakers do not take the time to fully analyze those elements which "should" determine the nature of their speech. The relationship between purpose and audience is one example of this problem. The only time an effective communicator does not analyze his or her audience with respect to the purpose of a speech is when he or she does not care how an audience receives or reacts to its message. To understand how important this is, consider the four goals of communication, three of which you will encounter in this course: to inform, to persuade, to entertain, and to express. Teachers inform, politicians persuade, comedians entertain, but who expresses? One answer could be artists. What impact does a poet seek in presenting a poem? To answer that, consider first what impact a communicator has with the other types: to inform someone of something, to persuade someone to do something, to entertain someone. But there is no "someone" at the other end of "to express", is there? And what about communicators who are not artists, but who also seek to express themselves anyway? One example of this occurs when an angry person swears. The problem that arises with expression, which could be defined as communicating with no consideration of context or audience, is that the speaker has little control over the effects, as the frequently offensive nature of swearing illustrates. In this unit, you will study the various purposes of speech-giving, as well as tips and suggestions for selecting a topic for your speech.
Completing this unit should take you approximately 5 hours.
5.1: General Purposes of Speaking: To Inform, To Persuade, To Entertain
5.2: Selecting a Topic
5.3: What If You Draw a Blank?
5.4: Specific Purposes
5.5: Unit 5 Exercises