Giving a workplace speech, whether at an annual employee meeting with hundreds of people in attendance or inspiring a small team before starting a new project, either will inspire your audience or leave them with a profound feeling of "meh." Strong leaders know how to start a speech that makes a difference, and today we'll help you learn how.


Considering What Your Audience Wants to Hear

In a leadership context, a speech that your audience wants to hear is about a general issue they're familiar with but want to hear more details about. To provide these details for your speech, consult your department managers, HR staff, or key team members for insight into what employees are asking about. For example, if your company is planning an expansion, your workers likely know but want to learn more about the when, where, and how it impacts them.


Understanding What Your Audience Needs to Hear

A "needs to hear" speech presents new information to your audience. These ideas can boost productivity, enhance a work-life balance, or improve morale. Your team isn't aware of "need to hear" ideas until you present them, so provide context for what you say. Again, consult with your key employees and managers about what aspects of the new idea are most relevant to your team, so you know how to frame the information in your speech.

A speech with what your audience needs to hear focuses on their essential understanding and centers around how the topic is relevant to them.


Melding Want to Hear and Need to Hear For an Effective Speech

Presenting the general ideas your employees want to hear and then introducing the critical details they need to hear is a very effective way to draft a speech. You begin with something they're already familiar with, give them enough details to keep them engaged, then segue to the salient "need to know" points.

Instead of presenting ideas as they appeal to you, focus on how these ideas can benefit your employees (your audience). A good example of an effective speech is TED Talks. The topics of these speeches are relevant to and actionable for the audience and are not just about what the speaker feels is most important to say. The structure of the speech is geared towards what the audience needs to hear, and while it probably is a topic the speaker likes to talk about, the focus is on the audience's interests.


Identifying "Wants to Hear" and "Needs to Hear"

If you still aren't sure which points are "wants to hear" and which are "needs to hear," ask yourself three things:

  • How is this relevant to my team?
  • How do I want my team to take action on what I'm going to say?
  • Is this something they want to hear right now or need to hear right now, and why?

Your answers give you insight on whether to proceed with the communication in the first place; if it doesn't serve your team's interests, then don't bother. Or, your answers might shed light on how you can re-work the content to provide valuable information your team can act on, not just a topic that you personally find interesting.


Bottom Line

You can get more out of your workplace speeches by considering what your team wants and needs to hear. When you approach a topic from the viewpoint of your team, then you'll be able to deliver communication they can be inspired by and act on.