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So You’ve Got Your Topic…

With the general topic determined and the overall purpose decided, it is time to delineate the objectives. The dictionary defines an objective: “something toward which effort is directed; an aim, goal, or end of action; a position to be attained or a purpose to be achieved.”[1] Objectives in a speech are specific learning goals to be accomplished by the speaker. They indicate knowledge, skills, or attitudes a learner should exhibit following instruction. Objectives should flow out of the purpose and be described in specific, measurable terms. They should guide the presentation of information and the application of material.

In a public speaking class for women, the purpose of the course might be to provide information, observation, and application of public speaking techniques to enhance the communication skills of women in life and ministry. The objectives could include the following:

  1. The student will understand basic principles of the total communication process.
  2. The student will learn public speaking techniques for a variety of contexts.
  3. The student will practice various aspects of public speaking.
  4. The student will assess the public speaking of others in order to improve personal communication.

Specific objectives guide the course of instruction. These four objectives flow directly out of the purpose statement. Information will be presented by the teacher and from the textbook about the basic principles of communication. Observation will occur during classroom presentations and outside speech evaluations. Application of speech principles will be offered through student presentations in class.

The four objectives are specific and measurable. Students will be graded on their knowledge of the basic communication process through a book review of the required textbook as well as a final examination. They will learn about different types of presentations in classroom discussion and in the presentations of their classmates. They will practice various types of public speeches when they read a Scripture aloud, make announcements in class, introduce a student speaker, and give a personal devotional. These four public presentations will be evaluated by the professor and all class members. The students will submit their assessment of classroom presentations and complete a speech evaluation outside of class. These course requirements will help the student fulfill the course objectives.

In a biblical message, the objectives should also flow out of the purpose and be related to the topic. I (Rhonda) have a message entitled “Mary, Martha, and Me.” It focuses on the narrative account in Luke 10:38-42. The purpose of the message is to challenge Christian women to worship and work. The three objective are to inspire the listeners to…

  1. worship like Mary;
  2. work like Martha; and
  3. worship and work like Me (Jesus Christ).

When a message flows from Scripture, the objectives can be connected to the purpose with greater ease. So, the next step in preparing your speech and before outlining your message is to identify the objectives!

            [1] “Objective,” (cited 19 March 2013), American Heritage Dictionary of the English Language, 4th ed. (Houghton Mifflin, 2009).

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