Finding a Topic and Purpose in Writing/Speaking

Although not exactly the same writing and public speaking having many things in common. This is especially true during preparation for a paper or presentation. The goal here is not really to compare and contrast writing and public speaking but to point out tools that can be used in both disciplines. In this post, we will cover the following

  • Choosing a topic of a paper/presentation
  • Determining the purpose paper/presentation

Choosing a Topic

The topic is whatever you are going to write or speak about. In reality, there are two types of topics

  1. Topics you already know a lot about
  2. Topics you know very little about

Which of these two choices you pick depends on the audience of your paper/presentation.

Brainstorming is one way of picking a topic. This involves several different techniques such as make webs, clusters or even performing an internet search.The way you pick a topic is not as important as finding something to develop for your audience.

Determining the Purpose

There are two levels at which the purpose is determined, the general and the specific purpose. The general purpose of a paper/presentation is the overall goal of the paper/presentation. There are many different purposes but two common ones are…

  • to inform
  • to persuade

Informing involves teaching the audience about something. For example, you might write a paper on cellphone apps. In this approach, you are teaching the audience about apps.

To persuade means to try and convince people or change their opinion about something. For example, you might have the purpose of showing readers what the best apps for English are. this involves not only presenting information but trying to convince people about what the best English apps are.

Once a general purpose has been determined it is important to develop a specific purpose. The specific purpose is a sentence in which you state what you are going to do in the paper or presentation. In writing, this is also often called the thesis statement.

For example, I might write or develop a speech in which my general purpose is to inform. My specific purpose is to inform the audience about different types of English apps. As you can see, the specific purpose includes the general purpose of to inform or to persuade. Below is a break down of the example in this paragraph

Topic: English Apps

General purpose: To inform

Specific purpose: To inform the audience about different English Apps

There are some tips to developing purpose statements. One, they are never expressed as a question because a purpose statement answers questions. Two, avoid figurative or technical language because they need to be as clear as possible. Lastly, a purpose statement should only be one sentence and deal with one idea as this helps with clarity.

Conclusion. 

The topic and purpose of a paper/presentation are critical for you to know and develop in advance. This sets the stage for clear communication with whoever you are engaging with your content.

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