The general purpose of any presentation is either to inform, persuade, or motivate. For your benefit, it is imperative that you recognize the difference as you prepare to teach end-users about your latest product or service, pitch that product, or inspire future innovation. Defining your general purpose is the macro part of speech preparation. The next step is to determine the specific purpose, or the micro, which is the key point or takeaway you wish to impart upon your audience. This post, however, is focused on the macro because there is a catch to the general purpose rule. Whether your general purpose is to inform, to persuade, or to motivate, you must incorporate all three, and this is why:
Speaking to inform
If you truly want to impart knowledge, you must sell yourself to your audience. Information is much more valuable when it comes from a credible source. So, establish credibility early and often. Tell the audience through your self-introduction and show them through examples why you are both passionate about and an authority on the specific topic you are presenting. Be enthusiastic. Enthusiasm is not only contagious, but also inspiring because it gets the adrenaline pumping. Also, whether your topic is dry or animated, you can find ways to add elements of humor, hope, and encouragement. People want to leave a presentation feeling good.
Speaking to persuade
If you are going to succeed in selling, you must arm your audience with the information they will need in order to make a wise decision. No one likes a pushy salesman. So, hold the call to action to the end. Speak with your audience, not at them, to gauge their level of knowledge about your topic, and then elicit feedback to show empathy. Empathy is engaging and it boosts your credibility. Show your audience you care about them and they will feel good, thus increasing the odds that your call to action will be met.
Speaking to motivate
Successful motivational speakers possess a great deal of empathy and they use it to inform and sell their inspiring message. As with any type of presentation, your job is to do more than enough research about your topic, your speaking situation and, of course, your audience. When delivering a motivational presentation, relating to the audience is crucial. Can you imagine being inspired by someone to whom you could not relate?
In short, your general purpose is the overarching goal of your presentation. Identify the general purpose first in order to properly prepare and organize your presentation and ensure a smooth delivery. In my college and corporate public speaking courses, I spend an equal amount of time on the process of organization and the practice of delivery. I have chronicled my public speaking tips in a handy pocket reference called Impact: Deliver Effective, Meaningful, and Memorable Presentations.
The ability to speak and present well differentiates professionals and, by extension, the organizations they represent. To varying degrees, each of your associates represents your organization. Make sure they are topnotch brand ambassadors.