What’s the most important component to giving an effective speech? Asking the right questions. There are three very simple questions your talk, speech, or sermon should be built upon: why? who? and what?


When I’m asked to give a speech, talk, or sermon outside of my home church, I want to know, Why am I being asked to speak? Why me? Why are others being asked to listen to me?

The underlying question is really about the purpose, aim, or mission of the talk.


Once you are clear about the mission or purpose, of both the group you are speaking to and the particular speech you are going to give, your next step is to know to whom you will be speaking.

What will be on their hearts and minds as you speak to them? What might they need to hear from you?


Finally, in light of the why and the who, I begin looking for the what. I begin asking, “What do I want my hearers to know? What do I want them to feel or experience? And what do I want them to do in response to this message?”

As a speaker you should know why you are speaking, you should understand the people to whom you are speaking, and you should be clear about what you want those people to know, feel, and do as a response to your message.

Get more tips for effective public speaking in my new book, Speaking Well: Essential Skills for Speakers, Leaders, and Preachers.


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