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Who Cares?

Any worthwhile speech should address the fundamental question of  "who cares?" Your audience could be doing any number of things instead of listening to you speak (and isn’t that what we're all thinking when we're listening?). You must convince them that what you have to say is worth listening to before a crowd of people will give you their full and undivided attention.

I don’t mean to make light of any person or any topic. Actually, I think anytime someone is speaking to a crowd, they’ve put a lot of thought into it and it’s admirable that they’re putting themselves 'out there' by presenting their work to other people. I only take issue when speakers don’t clearly convey why the audience should pay any attention to their speech.

As someone who has literally sat through thousands of speeches, I can tell you that it’s extremely difficult to listen to someone discuss something that you aren’t particularly interested in or can't relate to at all. Sometimes it is simply a matter of personal preference, I’ll admit that. But often, the issue is that the speaker has not done an adequate job in convincing the audience that each of them are in some way connected to the subject.

In any speech, you should implicitly or explicitly tell the audience why what you have to say matters. How does your message affect the audience? What’s in it for them? Give them a good reason to listen to you.

Once you accomplish this, then you can worry about keeping their attention. But without making the relevance of your message apparent in the first place, then what's really the point of you giving a speech in front of them? So the next time you’re called to give a speech, I strongly encourage you to consider this question, “Why should they care about what I'm saying?” If you can’t answer this question, I assure you that your audience won’t be able to either.