Preparing an Outline For A Speech Help (page 2)

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Updated on Sep 28, 2011

Speech Structure

A speech follows the same pattern as a well-constructed college essay, containing an introduction, sub-points, and conclusion. Think of these as the major body parts for your skeleton: head, torso, and feet. The head is your introduction, letting the audience know who they're listening to just as a face identifies a person. The body is where the living organs are, and it's where you'll concentrate all your facts, figures, examples, and illustrations. Finally, the feet give it mobility, just as a good conclusion will help your audience take your thoughts away with them.

We'll discuss each of these body parts in subsequent lessons, but for now you'll want to keep in mind that your outline will address each area. If it's not in the outline, it won't end up in the speech.


The introduction is aptly named, because that's exactly what it does: It introduces your topic to the audience. You wouldn't be comfortable if some stranger walked up to you and simply started trying to sell you a dishwasher; you'd want to know his name and credentials and why you should buy a dishwasher from him. Similarly, your audience wants to know what you intend to tell them, what your topic is, what your goal is—and perhaps even who you are. If they don't already know you, they'll want to know your name and why you're qualified to be speaking on that particular topic.

So your introduction will be an important time to gain both the attention and the respect of your audience. See Lesson 9 for more information on what to include.


The body will encompass the majority of your speech. It is the place where you will expand upon your theme and develop your topic or your persuasive argument. It's where you'll bring out all your facts and statistics, use visual aids, prove that your opinion is correct, and so forth.

This is the part of your outline that will force you to recognize what you know and what you don't know, and it will show you where more research is needed. It will also be constructed from the research that you've already done, and we'll discuss in a moment how to utilize that preliminary work. See Lesson 7 for more information on the body of your speech.


Remember that the conclusion represents the feet of your speech—it is what gives the speech mobility, enabling your audience to take your thoughts home with them. To that end, you will want to summarize your major points, stating clearly how the parts of your speech worked together to achieve your goal. If you're giving a persuasive speech, for example, your conclusion will state how the evidence you've provided proves that your thesis is true.

The primary purpose of a conclusion, of course, is to conclude—to end your speech in a memorable way. But it also helps your audience to draw a conclusion, to take the abstract information you've provided and apply it to their own lives. In this sense, the conclusion is more than a summary of your main points; it's a time to show your audience that what you've said has practical value. See Lesson 8 for more information on how to do this.

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