Speech Outline

An organized speech is the difference between an engaged audience and a slumbering audience. Improperly organized ideas are likely to be confusing, and a lack of direction can haunt a speaker for the duration of the speech. To avoid confusion and generate structure, use the following speech outline to ensure that essential elements of the speech are best organized to suit the speaker and the crowd.

I. Introduction

The introduction is just as important as the body of the speech because it sets the stage for everything that follows. If the audience is not captured with the introduction, it may be lost indefinitely. If the introduction is too short, the audience will not know what to expect, but an excessively long introduction is likely to bore the listeners.

A. Attention Getter

The attention getter should consist of a few straightforward sentences containing some interesting piece of information that is relevant to the rest of the speech. This could be an intriguing fact or a thought-provoking question, but it is intended to hook the audience at the very beginning. This is a question that the audience should understand once the speech is finished. The question should be answered, or the listeners should have the information they need to arrive at the appropriate conclusion.

B. Significance

Why does the speech matter to the audience? Why should these people invest valuable time in listening to what is being said? It is important to briefly tell the audience why a speech is worth their time. A speech about the in front of police officers about the wonders of ballet might bear little significance to most of the audience, but a speech about how after school activities, such as youth ballet lessons, lead to a decreased crime rate holds more interest.

C. Credibility

The audience needs to know speaker credentials. A speaker without proper authority on a subject will lack the ability to seriously persuade or inform the audience. The most important credentials are often one’s educational experience because a degree usually signifies a certain level of commitment and knowledge. Other credentials can include real experience, research, and any other knowledge or certification that is relevant to the subject.

D. Thesis Statement

The thesis statement will present the subject of the speech and describe the purpose for giving the speech. The thesis statement should consist of one or two straightforward sentences. While the attention getter is intended to hook the audience with a question, the thesis statement should both state and answer the question being addressed by the speech.

E. Preview

The preview should summarize the main points of the speech. This should help establish the organization of the body of the speech. This should be no more than one or two sentences, and it should not stray from the topics of the main body of the speech.

F. Transition into your first main point

A good transition will let the audience know that the introduction is over and the real substance of the speech is about to begin. This should not be more than one sentence. The audience should not be surprised halfway through the first main point to realize that the introduction is finished.

II. The Main Body

This is the substance of the speech. All major points should be conveyed during the main body. Each main point needs to be interesting, but the first and last main point should be particularly riveting. It is important to avoid having too many main points because organization and clarity might be compromised, and a disorganized speech will lose an audience. Generally speaking, three main points is a fairly safe number.

A. First Main Point

The first main point will establish how all main points are structured and discussed. It is important to be consistent without being boring. Like the attention getter, the main point needs to grab the audience’s attention. If the first point is deemed unworthy by the listeners, they are likely to tune out the rest of the speech.

1. First sub-point and supporting material
Simply stating the main point is not sufficient. It is important to provide examples and supporting research to persuade or inform the audience. Multiple sources of information are a good idea, but these should be limited for the sake of clarity. Statistics can be presented if appropriate, but it is important to avoid overloading the audience with too many numbers.

2. Transition closing off main point one and opening main point two
Like the transition between the introduction and the main body, this transition should let the audience know that the speaker is finished with the first main point while also preparing the listeners for the second main point. An easy way to create a transition between points is to say, “Additionally…,” “Similarly…,” or “Other research has shown that…”

B. Second Main Point

While all of the main points should be strong enough to stand alone, the slightly less significant point should be the second main point. The audience is most likely to remember the first and the most recent point, so those two points should get a little more attention.

1. First sub-point of this section and supporting material
Like the first main point, the second main point should also contain supporting material in the form of examples and research. This sub-point should be of the same quality and follow relatively the same structure as the sub-point of the first main point.

2. Second sub-point and supporting material
Supporting information provided for the second main point should be organized properly. Statistics should be limited to numbers necessary for the speech.

3. Transition closing off second main point and opening third main point
This transition should wrap up the second main point and introduce the third in a style similar to, but not identical to, the previous transition between the first and second main points.

C. Third Main Point

The third main point should be particularly strong because it may be particularly memorable to the audience. Avoid throwing every last tidbit of information into this point. If it did not fit anywhere else, it might be best to leave it out of the speech.

1. First sub-point of this section and supporting material
Supporting information for the third main point should be organized here. There is the temptation to make the third point longer than previous points without adding more substance, but this should be avoided. The structure should be similar to previous points.

2. Transition into conclusion
This particular transition should close the body of the speech and lead into the conclusion. There should be no doubt in the mind of the audience that the main points have been covered. The transition could be as simple as saying, “In conclusion…”

III. Conclusion

The conclusion should provide the audience with the final thoughts of the speech. It should also briefly restate the main points to strengthen the audience’s ability to remember and organize the main points.

A. Review of main points

A summary of the main points will provide the audience with a lasting impression of the substance of the speech. This should not be lengthy since the main points were already discussed in detail. For this reason, it is not necessary to restate every supporting detail in the speech.

B. Final Statement

Depending on the nature of the speech, the final statement might describe the speaker’s perspective on the subject or provide an intriguing question or tidbit of information. Unlike an attention getting question, this question should be one that the audience can answer with the help of the information presented in the main body. If it is more of a philosophical question, it is one that the audience should be able to ponder with the help of information gained from the speech.

IV. Bibliography (List of material used in speech)

Some audience members will want more information. The speaker should have a list of materials printed or presented in an easy to read format. This can include a poster or a powerpoint slide, which is more common.

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