Giving a well-researched speech is not really an area that’s given much importance.
Most people compare research to doing a few google searches. Most people think that all you need to do is a basic fact-check.
Well, the fact-check says: nope.
Credibility is a big thing when it comes to commanding an audience. You can’t just twist the facts to fit your narrative.
It would help if you backed it up with proper reasoning. Any crowd can sit through a speech, but you can actually get them to listen with proper research.
Are you ready to make them listen?
Table of Contents
- What should you research?
- Researching is a mindset.
- How to improve your research skills for a speech?
- Where to research for your topic?
- How do you check a website’s credibility?
- Wrapping Up,
What should you research?
Before you head on down to researching, it is better to have a clearer picture of your aim.
Knowing what sections to prioritize can save you a lot of time and create an effective research process for you as well.
Research your audience
When we say research, many people only think only about their content. That is a given, but people tend to forget that analyzing your audience is just as enough.
Knowing your audience is a good way of adjusting your content to maximize impact.
Depending on the demographic, you might need to re-tailor your content. Many factors come into play for this research.
For instance: How knowledgeable are they about your chosen topic? If you’re speaking to relative experts, you won’t need to start with the basics, and it might come across as condescending.
Similarly, talking to people in the same field allows you more freedom to use jargon.
Gauging this will also be handy in commanding audience interactions. You will be able to understand better how your content is being received.
This will teach you how to enhance your credibility. A large part of a research-based speech is credibility, and a large part of that is projection.
With proper audience analysis, you can also excel at answering any queries that they might have. Since you might need to change your content based on your audience research, you might want
Research the event, venue, and lighting
Is it a small room or an auditorium? Is it a corporate event or a gathering of students? Will there be a standing microphone that limits your movement or a hands-free one?
Do you have to stand in front of a big screen that allows you to have visuals? Will you be speaking in the morning, afternoon, or evening?
If it’s after a heavy meal, your audience might be sleepy. In this case, you will need to have a fun and refreshing opening.
What about the lighting? These are all factors that can affect how your audience receives your content. While content might be king, it needs its team of advisors to rule successfully.
Research your speech topic
This is our centerpiece. Researching your speech topic is essentially just being prepared.
You need first to convince yourself to convince others. And how can we achieve this? Well, strap in and get ready to learn.
Researching is a mindset.
The word research sounds so clinical that most people shy away from it.
Besides, let’s face it, it sounds like you will need to sort through piles of published papers and that too for one speech.
It would be so much easier to get it over with by just a few google searches, right?
This is the mindset that leaves many speakers lacking credibility. They are then unable to address audience queries and end up delivering a lackluster performance.
Researching is a mindset. The first thing you need to do is stop treating it as an obligation.
If you treat it as something that you have to force yourself to do, you are more likely to exhaust yourself quicker. The solution is to trick yourself into enjoying the research process itself.
So, how can you embrace this research mindset?
While stage persona is definitely a thing, most successful speakers simply enhance who they already are. Leave the acting to the actors.
On stage, you want to stay authentic. If you are a naturally energetic speaker, don’t try to tame it just to seem like a more serious speaker.
In doing so, you might lose your appeal for both kinds of audiences. Your research will be much more interesting to you if you pick a topic that speaks to you.
Be and aware of your goals
Having a clear idea of your speech goals can also help keep you on track, Figure out what your end goal here is.
Are you attempting to argue your perspective or provide a motivational speech? Similarly, is your speech intended to be humorous, informative, or demonstrative?
Once you know what your objective is, it’ll be easier to keep your research on track. It’ll also add a lot more structure to your content.
Utilize your weakness
As much as we talk about credibility, nobody expects you to master your topic. This is where you need to assess the areas where you are lacking.
You might be well informed in certain fields but still, need to go the extra mile to cover all grounds. Shying away from your weaknesses keeps you from improving.
On the other hand, addressing your weaknesses shows you what gaps you need to cover to deliver a well-rounded performance.
Pick your topics well.
There is an endless sea of topics that you can choose from. It can be tempting to pick something that you aren’t very passionate about.
The temptation is to go for a more topical or sensational choice. What this ends up doing is that it takes away all the fun from research.
Yes, you should try to entertain your audience, but at its core, the topic should be fun for you as well.
Learn why you are researching
People often emphasize research but never get into the why of it all. It is easier to put effort into things when you know what you are getting out of it.
First of all, when you are armed with knowledge, you will be less nervous. You are confident in your sources and will exude that confidence with every word you speak.
Similarly, there is no fear of audience interaction as you will be able to tackle any question that may come your way.
Furthermore, you can even pad on extra content to stretch your stage time once you are well informed on what you are speaking about.
How to improve your research skills for a speech?
We’ve covered the why, and now it’s on to the how. The following tips will help you specialize in your research for a more focused approach.
This will yield greater results for your presentation and overall more fruitful usage of your time.
Zero in on your topic
This particular tip stresses the importance of a speech structure. You need a proper outline to know exactly what to research. Is the topic you’ve picked too vast?
You might end up giving a lackluster speech by not zeroing into a particular subject matter. Similarly, it is just as easy to find yourself overdoing the research.
As such, you might spend so much time spouting data with no cohesive content to go with it. This is where a proper structure can help you.
Map out exactly what you’d like to cover, so you stay focused on it. It will help you identify exactly which areas of your speech can be enhanced with research.
Keep track of your sources.
Speech writing requires multiple rounds of editing. If you simply use up your research sites once without saving them, it is likely to get lost back into the sea of information.
This is dangerous as it is very easy to mix up your data and ideas. It can end up creating a non-credible speech that is just a collage of incomplete information.
A lesser-known tip for research is to keep a handy list of every source you use, whether it is a website, book, or magazine.
Have a notepad handy with the author and idea, so you don’t have to waste more time deciphering your own notes.
It might seem tedious, but it will end up saving you time in the long run. For instance, for your next speech, you will already have a reliable guide of sources without needing to start your research from scratch.
Fact-check your sources
Just because you find your information on a non-spammy looking website does not guarantee it’s legitimacy.
A frightening variety of information on the internet is just people’s opinions and not actual facts.
If you find some data, trace it back to where that data was originally sourced from. You are much more likely to gather trustworthy data from this method.
This can also let you trace down the most commonly repeated resource, as it is likely to be the most reliable one.
Up your bar for acceptable
Yes, google’s top 10 searches are extremely tempting. But with all this SEO optimization, are you sure that just because it is on the top, it guarantees reliability?
This is why you need to up your bar for acceptable. Look for academic articles or renowned books.
Use respected national newspapers as your sources. Follow up on the authors and don’t settle for a random blog link.
These sources are renowned for a reason as they garner a certain degree of respect. It will also help add credibility to your content subconsciously.
Balance is key
Most people misunderstand the purpose of research. It isn’t just to dig your heels in and stand your ground.
Nor is it to belittle anybody else’s point of view. Your job as a respectable speaker is to stand on neutral ground but argue your opinion.
You can achieve this by aiming for balance. It is easy to overwhelm your audience with facts, statistics, research papers, that all make a case for your opinion.
But if you go about it without a single argument for the other side, you will come across as biased and one-tone.
You can solve this by presenting a few facts that show why the other opinion has stood strong all this while and then argue why your case is stronger.
This helps your audience get a complete picture of the issue at hand.
Don’t forget to credit
Crediting your sources is a very important aspect of your well-researched speech.
First of all, it is very classy and humbling to display that you aren’t simply parroting somebody else’s beliefs.
Secondly, it adds impact to your words as it shows the amount of work you’ve put into this along.
All that reliable source searching you did will finally pay off as you credit them, and it brings a new level of recognition to your content.
Where to research for your topic?
While Google searches might seem like the obvious go-to for research in current times, there are many other sources that you can use to research your speech topic.
Your personal collection
It is always easier to start with what you have on-hand. If the topic you’ve chosen is in a field, you follow closely.
You must have resources surrounding it. Go through your bookshelf and magazine subscriptions to see if you can use any of them.
This can also extend to your textbooks or literature collection. Line them up and see if any of them are suitable for your speech topic.
Libraries and bookstores
Outside your own library is, of course, the larger library of information. There are thousands and thousands of books available on virtually any topic of your fancy.
Your local librarian can help you locate a much more direct source than a scattered google search.
These days libraries have a separate digital collection to make this process even more convenient. Don’t miss out on this wealth of information!
Peer-reviewed academic journals
At any given moment, motivated individuals are researching different avenues in a varied array of topics.
If you hop on over to Google Scholar, you will find many academic journals to support your topic.
From Research Gate to IEEE certified papers, all of this information is waiting just at the tip of your fingertips.
However, the catch here is that many of these journals are hidden behind a paywall. A handy tip, if you have the time, is to reach out to the authors.
We’ve noticed they’re usually more than willing to email you a copy to help you with your research.
The news media is not as respected as it used to be. Besides, are we asking you to dive into years worth of newspapers for that one worthy news article?
Absolutely not. With Google News Seach, you can browse through large newspaper archives with ease.
This is especially handy if your topic is centered around any important day or historical event. As you can simply search by date for the headlines of different national daily newspapers.
Magazines and other literary sources
When you go to magazines, you need to be careful. Afterall, Cosmopolitan probably shouldn’t be your magazine of choice for a subject on Men’s rights.
This is where you need to be wary about the information you hand-pick and make sure it isn’t too biased.
The benefit of using these sources is that their bibliographies can lead you to more legitimate sources. So even if you don’t end up using them directly, they can still help your research.
Encyclopedias and more
Remember the alphabetical selection of encyclopedias that every household had? These were our Wikipedia before Wikipedia.
With these, though, there is a risk of information being dated. So we recommend double-checking the data you gather from here. It might seem daunting at first, but eventually, you will have a knack for differentiating quality research
There are people who’ve spent their whole lives pursuing a field and gathering a treasure trove of experience.
You get to dip into this knowledge pool, and it is simply unparalleled. Don’t be afraid to reach out to your professors, colleagues, or other contacts that may be more knowledgeable about a certain topic.
Adding actual life stories to your speech can also bring a touch of relatability and humanize your facts. Explore your connections and see if there is anything that can help you enhance your speech.
Wikipedia is the largest and most comprehensive encyclopedia available to us. Another benefit to it is that it lists all of the different sources.
So even if you don’t quote Wikipedia directly, it is a huge asset to your research. There are even links to official statistics or highly respectable journals that are sure to boost your credibility.
If you’re willing to dedicate some time really digging into these articles, you will find a wealth of information to support your argument.
Other Online Resources
We know we’ve given a harsh time to most other online resources; however, they aren’t completely useless.
There are many trustworthy sites out there, but you must be skeptical while using them. How specialized is this website for your given topic?
Are the titles on this website clickbaity, or do they seem genuine? Does it provide reliable sources for the facts it displays?
As long as you take all this information with a grain of salt, they can still be of value for your research-based speech. Remember, credibility is very difficult to gain, but easy to lose.
Google Patent Search
Depending on your topic, you may or may not need to do a patent search itself. It is still a handy tool to be aware about.
Google Patent Search lets you search all available patents that can be super informative for your audience. Similarly, it can also provide the visual kick that your data needs for maximum impact.
How do you check a website’s credibility?
Now that you know how skeptical you should be with your sources let’s talk about how exactly you can measure credibility.
After all, it is easy and extremely affordable to get your site up and to run for virtually anybody.
This means that the internet is saturated with information, and it is difficult to tell right from wrong.
It is tremendously easy to find opinions that match with yours, and it can be tempting to cite them simply. But first, answer the following questions:
- Is the website recognized?
- How often do other websites quote it?
- Is it the official site of choice for statistics and data?
- Is the website tied to any credible organization or publication?
- If it is a blog, is it a notable figure? How much experience do they have in this said field?
- Are there credentials listed on their About page?
- Is there a comment section that allows members to disagree with the presented opinion?
- Are there contact details so you can verify any of the information presented?
We recommend checking multiple websites for a fact before using it in your research. Never base your facts on a single source.
If the data is not backed up on the site, then look for contact details. You don’t have to feel self-conscious to reach out and simply ask the author for further details.
Most people are passionate about the subjects they write about and would be happy to help you.
As you scour the websites, don’t forget our tip on keeping track of all your research sites. Keep a word document handy with all the links and citations.
This will help you in the future and also let you see repeating patterns for trustworthy websites.
Well, there you have it! Research sounds like such a scientific term, but now that we’ve broken it into bite-sized tips, we’re sure it doesn’t sound very monumental anymore.
All you need to do is sharpen your searching skills and keep a skeptical eye. You’re lucky to live in a time that bountiful in terms of information.
There is a multitude of sources available to you. You just have to learn how to sort them properly.
Armed with credible facts and sources, you are now ready to wow the stage with your speech!