Informative Material, Clearly Presented
1-3. Why is specific material needed to make one’s talk informative?
1 Worthwhile talks start with diligent preparation, and that calls for time and effort. But how rewarding it is! You increase your fund of accurate knowledge and you have something really beneficial to share with your audience. Rather than speaking in generalities, you have illuminating details to offer, and you know that what you are saying is right. This builds up the audience’s appreciation for God’s Word, and so honors Jehovah. Our consideration of informative material particularly involves what you say in your talk. Briefly consider the various aspects of the matter. It is the first point on the Speech Counsel slip.
2 Specific material. A talk dealing in generalities lacks weight and authority. It is vague. It leaves the audience uncertain. If ideas are to be remembered they must be specific, exact. This gives evidence of research and knowledge of the subject.
3 This quality can be acquired in preparation by asking, Why? When? Where? and so forth. It is usually not enough to say something happened. Give names of places, dates, perhaps reasons. It is not enough to state certain truths. Show why they are true; show why they are of value to know. If giving instruction, explain how a thing is to be done. How much development of this kind is essential will be determined by how much an audience already knows. So consider the audience to ascertain what details may be required.
4-6. For your talk to be informative to your particular audience, what factors must you keep in mind?
4 Informative to your audience. What might inform one audience might add nothing to the knowledge of another group, or it might even leave them completely in the dark. Obviously, then, the material must suit a particular audience. For instance, in a talk on how our work is conducted, the material would be handled altogether differently at a service meeting than in talking to a person getting ready to dedicate himself to Jehovah, or in a talk to a worldly group.
5 These factors must also be taken into account in the various assignments in the Theocratic Ministry School. The material presented in any assigned talk should be considered as to audience, setting and purpose of the talk. These factors will be determined by the type of talk and the setting the speaker has arranged. Of course, the instruction talk will be a talk to the congregation. Other talks may vary, the audience and purpose being identified by the setting. In all cases, both student and counselor can ask themselves, Is the material adapted to the particular audience involved in the presentation? Will the audience be informed and instructed by it?
6 In preparation ask yourself, What do I want to accomplish in this talk? How much of what I want to say does this person or group already know? What foundation must I lay before these points can be made clear? How would I say it differently to an altogether different group? Comparisons often clarify our viewpoints. Try different approaches to different groups in your preparation just to get the feel of the difference in considering the audience and making the material informative to the particular audience you are going to address.
7, 8. How can we make our talks practical?
7 Material of practical value. There is much to be learned, but not all of it is practical. To us, informative material concerns those things we need to know for Christian living, for our ministry. We want to know how to use this information that we have acquired.
8 The student, in preparation, and the school overseer, in counseling, might consider this point by asking: What guiding principles are to be found in the talk? Could the material be used in making decisions? Can the information presented be adapted to the field ministry? Does it magnify God’s Word and point to his purpose? Few talks can contribute all this information, but to be practical, material presented should be usable in some way by the audience.
9-11. Why is accuracy of statement so important?
9 Accuracy of statement. Jehovah’s witnesses are an organization of truth. We should want to speak the truth and be absolutely accurate in every detail at all times. This should be so not only as regards doctrine but also in our quotations, what we say about others or how we represent them, also in matters involving scientific data or news events.
10 Wrong statements delivered to an audience may be repeated and the error magnified. Inaccuracies that are recognized by an audience raise questions as to the authority of the speaker on other points, perhaps even calling in question the truth of the message itself. A newly interested person hearing such statements, and having heard a different view expressed on another occasion, might come to the conclusion there is disunity of thought among Jehovah’s witnesses and discontinue association without even revealing his reason.
11 The counselor should not pick to pieces every statement made by the student, especially one new in the truth and therefore not fully established in the deeper things of God’s Word. Rather, he will tactfully help to mold the thinking of the student and show him how to improve his accuracy by careful advance preparation.
12, 13. What is the value of additional clarifying material?
12 Additional clarifying material. Thoughts presented as a result of meditation or that may be gleaned from further research on a subject can contribute much to a talk and can sometimes avoid an uninstructive repetition of material already familiar to the audience. It adds freshness to the presentation, enlivens the interest of the audience, and can make a very familiar subject truly delightful. Also, it gives confidence to the speaker. He approaches his talk with an enthusiasm born of the knowledge that he has something just a little different to present.
13 A danger to be avoided is private speculation. The Society’s publications should be used and relied upon. Check the Society’s Indexes, and footnotes on the scriptures. Make sure that what you say is clarifying, not misrepresenting.
14-16. What must be done in preparing a talk so as to state things simply?
14 In preparing your material it is also important to give careful attention to how you are going to say what you have to say. This is what the Speech Counsel slip refers to as “Clear, understandable.” Failure to give adequate attention to this can prevent you from reaching your audience, or it may hinder them in retaining what they hear. There are three principal aspects of this matter to consider.
15 Simply stated. This does not mean that phrases need to be thought out in advance. But ideas to be presented must be analyzed and certain definite factors taken into account. This will generally result in a talk that is compact and in expression of thought that is simple, spoken in plain language. A subject that is involved in the mind of the speaker will be involved in presentation.
16 Last-minute preparation must be avoided. Each point of the talk must be thought through all the way until it is simple and clear to the speaker. Review of these points in preparation for delivery will so sharpen them in his mind that they will come out readily when called for and will be as sparklingly clear to the audience as to the speaker.
17, 18. Why must unfamiliar terms be explained?
17 Unfamiliar terms explained. Our study of the Scriptures and the Watch Tower Society’s publications has given us a vocabulary of terms quite strange to those unacquainted with our work. If we were to explain the truths of the Bible to some audiences, using such terms as these, either much of what we say would be lost or our speech would be entirely unintelligible.
18 Consider your audience. What is the level of their understanding? How much do they know of our work? How many of these expressions will be as readily understood by them as by the speaker? Terms like “theocracy,” “remnant,” “other sheep,” even “Armageddon” and “Kingdom,” can convey either a different thought to the hearer’s mind or none at all. Even such terms as “soul,” “hell” and “immortality” need to be clarified if the hearer is unfamiliar with our work. But if the talk is being delivered to the congregation, terms such as these need not be explained. So the setting should be taken into account.
19, 20. How can we avoid having too much material?
19 Not too much material. A talk may contain so much information that the great quantity of material floods the audience and understanding is dulled or lost completely. To accomplish the purpose of a talk, no more material should be introduced than can be clearly developed in the allotted time. No more should be expressed than can be reasonably absorbed by the audience. Furthermore, material presented to a stranger or newly interested person would have to be considerably simplified as compared with material on that same subject when presented to the congregation. Here, too, the counselor must take into account the audience being addressed by the speaker.
20 How will the student know how much material to put into a talk? Comparison will be an advantage in preparation. Analyze what you have to present. How many of these points will already be known to the audience, at least in part? How many will be completely new? The broader the foundation of knowledge already had, the more can be built upon it in a given time. But if practically nothing is known of the subject to be discussed, then great care must be exercised as to how much is going to be said and how long it will take to explain these points to the full comprehension of the audience.