Hear Ye, Hear Ye: Speaking to Inform 64 In this chapter, you first learn how to choose and narrow a topic. Next, you'll learn how to decide on an organizational pattern specifically suited to your informative speech. Finally, I'll provide step-by- step guidelines to researching the information that you need to make your informative speech fulfill its goal. You'll even learn what not to include. What more could you ask? Dream Theme Said the after-dinner speaker: "I feel like Roseanne's fourth husband. I know what I'm supposed to do, but I'm at a loss as to how to make it different." You won't feel like Roseanne's fourth husband if you plan all your informative speeches by picking a central theme, the speech's one main idea. When planning your speech, ask yourself, "What is the one thing I want my audience to get from my speech?" That's your theme. A speech without a theme is like a swimming pool without water, a car without an engine, Roseanne's fourth husband without a clue--well, you get the idea. Talk Soup A speech's theme is its central idea, its one main idea. The specific purpose of your speech is called your thesis . This Porridge Is Just Right! Your theme must be general enough to fill the allotted time, but specific enough to respond to the topic, fit with any overall conference theme, and hold the audience's attention. Study this chart for an illustration: Topic Wide Enough to Tow a Battleship Through College Work Athletics Television Computers Topic Narrow Enough to Fit in a Coach Seat Paying for a college education in the 90s. Jobs for the 21st century. Should amateur athletes be paid? Should "infomercials" be banned? Jumping on the Information Superhighway. Take the following quiz to see which topics have been sufficiently narrowed for a 20-minute speech. Circle the number for each topic that you think is specific enough for our mythical speaker. (Ignore the ones that would have the poor sucker speaking long after the audience has gone home.) 1. 2. 3. 4. 5. 6. 7. 8. Child care Ways to find caring, reliable, and inexpensive childcare Divorce in the United States How counseling and mediation can help reduce the divorce rate Sexual harassment The problems of sexual harassment in the workplace Exercise classes/aerobic exercise How to pick the exercise class that's right for you