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Informative Speeches

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The informative speech that I chose for my analysis is entitled, “Kids Need Structure” presented by Colin Powell.  The presentation was held in Washington D.C. in October 2012.  Overall, I would label Powell’s speech as strong and active presentation, containing all the elements that make up a well-rounded speech. For instance, Powell’s use of visual aids such as a photograph of one of his trips to a military school instantly made it easier for the audience to understand what he was saying.  Furthermore, the topic was relatable to the audiences present, as they were mostly adults and parents.  Adding humor and games along with personal stories made the speaker more believable and convincing.  Strong statistics (25% of the population, and 50% of the minority population drops out of school) further added credibility to Powell’s topic and the point he was trying to make.

Colin Powell wanted the audience to realize that providing early discipline and structure to children is not only important, it is a great compulsion.  He provided many examples of what structure could look like to help the audience members understand.  For example, for some it could mean structure and discipline in dressing, while others might want more discipline in being punctual.  Colin went on to state the key point that the training begins in the prenatal stages- even before the child is born.  What really made his presentation successful was the fact that Colin Powell answered the question WHY.   People wondering ‘why does structure matter?’ received their answer at the end.  Powell stated that structure was what embeds maturity and life skills in children and ensures that they will become respectful and successful adults.

As former U.S. Secretary of State, Powell used his experiences and reputation to draw in the viewer.  In fact, sharing his personal weaknesses seemed to be damaging to the speech at first; however, it had the opposite effect. His personal weaknesses added strength to presentation.  For example, Colin Powell admitted he was an academically weak student. However, because of the structure and training he received in the armed forces, he managed to find what he was good at and voila! He became a leader of the country because of that structure.  The personal touch made the speech extremely inspiring and successful.  All in all, the organization was flawless; Powell used all the right attention magnets (including jokes and personal narratives) along with presenting his main points precisely and clearly, which was: If we do not provide structure to children at a younger age, they will fall behind and become the criminals of the country instead of the leaders.

Personally, I would try intertwining personal narratives into my presentations along with a bit of effective humor.  From Powell’s speech, I noticed that the right kind of humor can make any topic attractive and will make the audiences lean in closer, eagerly awaiting the next sentence.  Moreover, I liked Powell’s use of visuals and simple language.  He used terminology that was easy to understand and one could relate to his points understandably.

Powell exhibited his weakness when he failed to cite his sources while throwing out number statistics.  Utilizing credible supporting evidence is crucial to setting up a speech’s and speaker’s credibility. Powell should have used numbers and visual graphs in order to point out the WHY to his speech.  Which research shows that structured children are more successful and where does it say that unstructured children will become criminals?  Powell failed to answer these questions. Even though his reputation is strong and authoritative, one cannot blindly follow his facts as they are not backed up by concrete proofs.  Providing false or weak data can even hinder the former U.S. Secretary of State’s reputation and attract more critics.

The greatest strategy that one can utilize from Informative Speeches is to be thoroughly organized.  It does not matter which type of informative speech one delivers, for any presentation to be successful, one needs to be organized. This does not merely mean knowing your talking points or jotting them down on cue cards. In fact, the organization process includes the brainstorming stage, the research stage and the delivery. Organization also involves a strong and clear thesis statement.  In other words, the audience should not be confused on what you are trying to say.  Moreover, organization involves shedding all biases and becoming objective deliverers. 

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