The Best Speech Guide (Part 3) – Researching Your Topic

Researching Your Topic

If you haven’t read our Best Speech Guide 1 & 2 we will recommend you to go through them first before proceeding with this topic.

Let’s look now at researching the content of your presentation. In some cases, what you want to say comes straight out Of your head without any trouble. In other cases you may have to do some research, find quotations, anecdotes and topical news stories, for example.

Lets take the subject of the careers talk again and narrow it down to one area JOURNALISM. If your audience consists of 15 year old kids who have expressed an interest in careers in the media. How should you do your
research? What will they want to know?

Essentially. they will need to know:

  • How to become a journalist?
  • Whether they will need particular qualifications?
  • Tips for getting in ‘through the back door’
  • What kinds of jobs are available?
  • What skills a journalist needs?
  • What the life of a journalist is like? etc.

You will need information on courses available, routes into the profession and tips from practicing journalists about getting stalled. Basically, research sources are divided into primary and secondary. Primary sources means people with whom you have direct contact, by letter, telephone or face to face. Secondary sources are almost always written books, newspapers, reports and so on. To make your speech interesting don’t use just one source of information. Get a balance between your own experiences, objective facts and stories from other people’s experiences.

Primary sources

  • Personal contacts and friends.
  • Your own experiences.
  • Face to face interviews.
  • Telephone interviews.
  • Anything not written down or printed.

Secondary sources

  • Books
  • Newspapers, magazines and journals.
  • Reports, surveys and other printed information.
  • Museums, galleries, buildings, shops, objects rather than words.
  • Visual sources – films, TV, photographs, etc.
  • Auditory sources – radio, records/tapes, etc.
  • Companies and organizations (who can provide information in any of the forms mentioned).

Taking the subject of a careers talk on journalism example, you will need to find an up-to-date book on careers in journalism, telephone, the Newspaper Society or Periodical Training Trust to check your facts on training courses, telephone several publications to get a ‘feel’ for the kind of young people they are looking for.

For other subjects you could use a set of reference books. Try a book of quotations such as the Oxford Dictionary of Quotations, a book of anecdotes and stories such as The 637 Best Things Anybody Ever Said or The Book of Heroic Failures and a book of useful and useless facts like 100% British or The Book of Averages are in valuable. Encyclopedias and dictionaries are useful if you want potted histories or definitions.

Some professional speech makers keep a file Of newspaper cuttings, for example on strange true tales and double entendres. Such things can come in very useful – comb the diary section in the daily newspapers
for anecdotes. That’s it

If you haven’t read The Best Speech Guide (Part 1 & 2), Consider reading them too.

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