Writing a Speech Outline
Your boss asked you to give a speech at the annual meeting. Now you’re wondering why you agreed. Panic sets in; what should you do? First prepare an outline. Your confidence increases the more you think about your message before you get on the podium. Here are ten simple steps to writing an effective language outline.
1. Use a phrase with two to five words to describe the topic of your speech. Make sure the printout is wide enough to cover the topic and close enough to stay focused.
2. Make the topic a complete sentence. For example, “courage to contradict,” though a great topic, is not a sentence because it lacks a verb. You could write, “In a world that emphasizes community responsibility, leaders need to remember the value of dissent.” When you turn the topic into a sentence, it becomes your thesis.
3. Ask a question about work. As a rule, several questions arise. Take, for example, the question: “Why?” Why is dissent so important? This question can lead to a message about individual freedom and ethics. The question, what? would lead to a definition of the concept of dissent. In our example we use the question “How?”
4. Answer the question with a keyword. What are some single word answers that come to my mind? I think of “ways”, “means”, “forms”, “manners” and so on. The word that answers the question is your classification keyword. It will always be a plural because it is a group of things. Let’s take the keyword “shapes” for our example.
5. Turn your keyword into a transitional sentence. This sentence describes the main points of your speech. Here is one possible transitional phrase that was formulated from our keyword “forms”: “The need for dissent can occur in various forms during your leadership career.”
6. Prepare two to six main points (three often make a balanced message). Each of your key points fits into the classification described by your keyword. In our example, every point will be a kind of dissent.
(1) Leaders oppose immorality.
(2) leaders defend the weak.
(3) leaders oppose corruption.
(4) Leaders fight against their own inner demons.
7. Add vertices below each of your main points. Avoid adding material that has nothing to do with the main point. Take the second point above: “Leaders defend the weak.” Your support points could be expressed as follows:
A. The crowd does not defend the weak.
B. The government does not defend the weak.
C. The business does not defend the weak.
D. The weak can not defend themselves.
8. Write your conclusion. Graduation is the place where you put everything in the center and invite your audience to do something.
9. Write your introduction. This may sound counterintuitive, but you can not tell people where you want them to be until you know yourself. Most of your introduction is already written, as it contains the thesis and the transitional sentence. Add a gripping story and your introduction is done.
10. Finally, rehearse your delivery. Go through your outlines several times aloud until you become familiar with your own voice. When you give your speech, do not read your outline. Relax. Look people in the eye. The message that you sketched flows like a conversation.