Basics of Public Speaking
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Lesson 9 - The Power of Specific Examples

"I believe this is a very useful lesson. You can learn a lot from it. Use this lesson to make your public speaking better!".
Can you see what is wrong with the three sentences above? Are they a good opening for an article? Are they interesting? Can you learn from them? In fact, those sentences are too general, too broad. We could say that EVERY lesson is useful. (That is true for my articles, right?) However, we hope there is something specifically useful in this article. What is it? How, specifically, will this make me better? What, exactly, will I learn?

It would be better to try this kind of introduction instead:

"In this lesson, you will learn two reasons why you must use specific examples and two easy ways to make your message lively and more memorable."
This is much stronger! Now we know there are TWO reasons and two methods. We are now ready to look for those details as we read. We understand the speaker's feeling that we MUST use these. (And so, we wonder WHY we must!) We see the benefits - being more lively and memorable. In your presentations, always include enough specific details so that the listeners can truly understand and visualize your message. Specific details make a stronger impact. Which should we say, "many people suffered" or "there were more than 6000 dead and 20,000 injured". The second one makes a much stronger impact.

Here are two ways you can prepare your speeches so that they include enough details. The first way is the trusted 5W approach - answer the questions Who, What, Where, When and Why. Who will benefit, what will they learn, where and when (or how long will it take), and why is it so good? A second way is to appeal to our five senses. Describe something in a very visual way, so that the audience can form a picture in their mind. Or talk about the taste and smells, if you are talking about food, for example. Or describe the sounds you might hear or the feelings you might feel. All of these senses help engage the audience so that they really remember your message.

You can start with general statements, but then give lots of examples to support your main points. Specific details seem more believable - the audience, when hearing your specific description, can identify things that are similar to their own experiences. I should leave you with one warning, however. Do not give the audience too many details. Balance is important. Use details to explain and describe your most important points, but don't let the details hide the main points.

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