A great speech is one that has a great structure. Whatever the situation is where you are asked to give a presentation, your audience expects to receive valuable information. Your listeners await the solution that you have to say as an answer to a problem they are thinking of. Answering six basic questions will help you organize your presentation to come up with a successful talk.

Your speech should relate to the questions who, what, when, where, why, and how regarding your topic. Once you have these fundamental pieces in place, your talk will have the clarity that your audience deserves.

1. Who – Who is your target audience?

You should be able to clearly identify who your target audience is. Try to describe them as clearly as you can in one or two sentences. This will give you a clear picture of the persons to whom you will address the information that you want to give. When you were organizing your research for your presentation, you also made a definition of the kind of audience you were building your research for, the type of listeners you were assembling your materials for. Is the audience you identified during your research phase the same as the one you will eventually give the speech to? Relating with your audience is an important ingredient of giving a great talk and by having a clear picture of who this audience is will give you a better chance of relating with them. Having that knowledge gives you a more intimate feeling of identification and they will feel like you are speaking directly to them. By establishing this much needed rapport, they will be more inclined to give you their attention because they will feel that you are genuinely familiar about their needs.

2. What – What is the knowledge you want your audience to achieve?

What is the message you want to get across to your audience? What information do you want to communicate to them? Structuring this information in the format of coming up with a solution to a problem will give you a good backbone for your presentation. Start by identifying the issues surrounding the problem you are discussing and begin with a big picture of the problem area. Then narrow it down to some specific examples that specially fits the persons you are speaking to. Characterize the problem in terms of pain points your audience might be experiencing. What makes the problem difficult? What are their concerns? What is causing them pain regarding the problem. Then slowly move them to a process of discovering possible solutions to the pain points you have identified. Do not just give them steps on what to do to address their problem but give them situations and how doing the steps will help them. This will give them a clear idea on what benefit may be derived from taking the steps you are recommending and will move them to have a strong desire to follow your suggested steps.

3. When – When should your listeners implement the action that you want them to take?

At this point in your speech you need to create in your audience a sense of urgency. This is important if the solution you presented to them is to be of any value. Your recommendation cannot be an open-ended suggestion that they will feel free to take up any time they please. Otherwise you run the risk of them procrastinating and they will end up just being more frustrated than before. Make it clear to your listeners that it is time to act and the time to act is NOW.

4. Where – Where can your listeners find the solution they are looking for?

On another note, if your recommended solution is related to an offering that you would want to suggest to your audience, the time to do it is also at this point in your presentation. Make it clear to your listeners that your limited time for your talk also gives you a limitation on your ability to help them. If you have follow-up activities and materials that you want to offer to them, let them know. They can sign up for a class, subscribe to your newsletter on your website, buy a book that you may have brought with you to the venue, etc. This will give your audience the feeling that you are serious about getting them to implement what they just learned.

5. Why – Why should your audience consider the recommendations you are giving?

This is the part of your talk where you inspire and motivate your audience to take action. You should be able to answer the question of what factors will prompt your listeners to take your recommendations seriously. A successful talk should not only make your audience listen, you should also be able to lead them to a course of action you want them to take.

6. How – How can your audience best respond to your message?

Finally, you also need to reinforce the information you have been giving to your audience with the information on how best they can use it. If necessary, this should include a step-by-step instruction on the actions your listeners need to take in order to respond to and take advantage of your advices. By giving them a clear set of steps to follow, you are making it a lot easier for your audience to take the action you want them to do.

The bottom line of answering these six questions is establishing your credibility. By revealing these six crucial pieces and putting them together as one cohesive whole, you are giving your listeners both a big picture of the solution they are looking for and the details of how to achieve it. They will see you as a trustworthy source of information on this area that is important to them.