The Specific Purpose Statement

 

Specific Purpose Statement

After a speaker has determined the “general purpose” for the speech (to inform, persuade, or entertain) and chosen a speech topic, the specific purpose statement needs to be developed.  A “specific purpose statement” is what you want your audience to know/understand after they’ve listened to your speech.  The specific purpose statement helps speakers identify their main points and narrow the topic sufficiently to fit the time limits.  It focuses on precisely what you want your audience to understand, know, feel, believe, or do.  

Note that the verbs for the Informative Speech include: know and understand.  The verbs for a Persuasive Speech include: feel, believe, agree, and do.  If your goal is to inform the audience, be careful to avoid any persuasive verbs in your specific purpose statement.  Be careful that your specific purpose is not a persuasive speech in “informative-speech-clothing”, also known as “The Infomercial”.  This occurs when the topic is controversial and/or opinions are expressed.  In the Infomercial, the speaker has a hidden agenda of wanting the audience to agree with something or take action of some kind.

An effective specific purpose statement includes both what you will talk about (subject) and what you will say about it (predicate).  However, never, never, never state your specific purpose to the audience.  It is considered a Sin of the Introduction to say your specific purpose to your audience.  It is simply part of a speaker’s organizational plan as the outlines are developed.

 

Format for Specific Purpose

1.    The specific purpose begins with the phrase “After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand….

a.    Avoid “know/understand about

b.    Avoid “know/understand more about

c.    Avoid “know/understand better

d.    Avoid “know/understand the most important aspects of

e.    Avoid anything other than simply “know/understand”

2.    The specific purpose includes your speech subject (topic).

a.    No “how-to” speeches

b.    Avoid persuasive speeches in “informative-speech-clothing”.(The Infomercial)

3.    The specific purpose includes your speech predicate (what you will say about the topic). 

a.    The predicate should be specific.

b.    The predicate should reflect your main points.

 

Correct Informative Specific Purpose Statements

An effective specific purpose statement includes the correct phrase, what you will talk about (subject), and what you will say about it (predicate). 

1.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the history of the electric synthesizer and the role it has played in music, past and present.

2.      After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand what breast cancer is, what causes breast cancer, and risk factors that can help prevent breast cancer.

3.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the benefits, risks, and uses including reconstructive and cosmetic purposes of a micro-pigmentation procedure.

4.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the origin of the language of Hangeul, what constitutes the language of Hangeul, and its globalization.

 

Avoid INCORRECT Informative Specific Purpose Statements

An ineffective specific purpose statement uses an incorrect know/understand phrase, is missing the topic, or is missing the predicate.

1.    After listening to my speech, my audience will have a greater understanding of the history, rules and regulations, misconceptions and the overall positive outcome from this new and growing sport.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the history, rules and regulations, misconceptions and the overall positive outcome from the new and growing sport of Ultimate Fighting Championship.

2.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand better the subject of stretching, in reference to body piercing.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand stretching; a form of body piercing that has a long history across many cultures and some risks.

3.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand who George Herman Ruth was.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the role of George Herman “Babe” Ruth in baseball history, the notable aspects of his career, and the effect his death had on baseball.

4.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand more about the Oregon coast and the great things it has to offer.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the geography, weather, scenery, and activities of the Oregon Coast.

5.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand what drugs are involved, risks and prevention. 

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand what are “date rape drugs”, the effects of date rape drugs, and expert advice to avoid becoming a victim.

 

Avoid “The Infomercial” (Persuasive Specific Purpose Statements in “Informative-Speech-Clothing”)

The Infomercial or persuasive speech in “informative-speech-clothing” occurs when the speaker has a hidden agenda…they want the audience to agree with them.  If you replace know/understand with “agree” in the specific purpose statements below, you can see the persuasive intent.  The claims made are argumentative.

1.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand that puppy mills and irresponsible breeding are significant contributors to the pet overpopulation crisis in America.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the role of puppy mills and over-breeding in the pet overpopulation crisis in America

2.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand seal hunting is not only controversial but is also inhumane, and there is still a high demand for fur despite the ban on seal products.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the practices of seal hunting, how seal fur is used, and the demand for seal fur around the world.

3.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand why Switzerland is the best place to go for vacation and the benefits of that place.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the geography, culture, and activities of Switzerland.

4.    After listening to my speech, my audience will think twice about lighting a cigarette, they will understand health risks associated with smoking and see who they really are hurting by smoking.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the health risks of smoking, the costs of smoking, and prevalence of smoking in the United States.

5.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the benefits of public transportation for both themselves and the environment and why they should use public transportation.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the benefits of public transportation for both themselves and the environment.

 

Avoid Specific Purpose Statements for How-To Speeches

1.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand how to make your own home brew.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the history of making “home brew”, including the required ingredients, equipment, and process of fermentation.

2.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand how to reduce stress in your life.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand what is stress, what causes stress, and strategies for coping with stress.

3.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand how to be a frugal and smart traveler.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the theory, the practice, and the travel sources available to travelers-on-a-budget.

4.    After listening to my speech my audience will be able to do some simple tasks to maintain their air conditioner.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the role of the filter in an air conditioner, the types of filters available, and maintenance techniques for air conditioner filtration systems.

5.    After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the different types of skin cancer and how to prevent it.

·         Suggested Revision: After listening to my speech, my audience will know/understand the different types of skin cancer, the risks associated with skin cancer, and strategies for reducing risks of developing skin cancer.