12 Structure and Format: Outlining the Speech

Rebecca Collier, M.B.A.

Learning Objectives

  • Determine the general and specific purpose of a presentation.
  • Create a captivating speech introduction, body and conclusion.
  • Support ideas and arguments through cited research.
  • Differentiate between preparation outlines and presentation notes.
Imagine that you are about to enter a building for a job interview. You open the front door and walk straight into the bathroom.  A little unsettled, you look around and see that, past the toilet and the shower, there is another door. You walk through that door, and you are now in some type of gymnasium. There is a woman in the room, running on a treadmill, and you approach her to ask for help. “Excuse me,” you say. “I’m here for a job interview. Do you know where I can find the Human Resources Department?” “Sure,” the woman replies. “Just climb through that window and head down the hallway.” She points to the window on the far wall, and you walk over to it. It seems crazy, but the window does overlook a hallway with an office at the end. There doesn’t appear to be any other exit from the room you are in. So, you open the window, lift yourself up, and carefully climb through to the hallway on the other side.  At the end of the hallway is a door whose small sign you can now read – “Human Resources.” At last, you’ve made it to your interview, but now you have some grave concerns. What type of company would have their employees work in a building like this? How will you connect with the people and resources you need to do your job in such a crazy set-up?
maze room
Photo by beasty . on Unsplash

Just like a building has structure and an overall plan to guide people through the space in a logical way, you will need an outline for your speech to provide a framework for your ideas and to help your audience see how these ideas connect to create your overall message. Additionally, similar to the way people have expectations for what they will experience when walking into a building, your audience will have some expectations about how your speech will unfold. When these expectations are not met, such as the example earlier, when you entered the door expecting to see the receptionist and were instead met with a toilet, your audience may find it jarring or uncomfortable if your speech does not have a recognizable introduction or conclusion, or if you abruptly jump from subtopic to subtopic without notice. In this chapter, we’ll look at how to create an outline to guide your audience through your points in an organized format for a well-structured speech. In a professional setting, most speakers outline their speeches far enough in advance of their presentation date so that they have time to practice their performance and become comfortable with the material. Creating an outline will help you feel confident during your speech, because you took the time to carefully plan out what you desired to say. This leaves you free to focus on your delivery – how you say it – during your speech. This chapter will walk you through all the different parts of a speech outline, and show you how a formal outline can be translated into less cumbersome speaking notes.

The Speech Topic

One of the hardest parts of the speech assignment for students is choosing a topic with which to work with. Oftentimes, as soon as you begin drafting an outline for a chosen topic, other topics will start to look more and more appealing, and you will want to change to a new topic. Resist this impulse, if you can! Many speech students have lost points on late assignments because they kept changing their mind about what to speak about. Once you begin working with a topic (approved by your instructor, when applicable), commit to it. Your instructor can help you navigate through the challenges of a topic with which that you are struggling with. Remember, your research and your speech delivery can make almost any topic engaging for the audience.

The Speech Purpose

Before you begin preparing your speech, your instructor will let you know what kind of speech you are working on. Is it a speech intended to inform your audience? Is it a speech where you will be persuading the audience? Or, is the speech designed for entertainment purposes? You will need to know what kind of speech you are giving before you do any other work on this assignment. To make sure that you are aware of the overall goal of the speech, your instructor may ask you to include the general purpose on your outline. There are three basic general purposes that apply to speech presentations: To inform, to persuade, and to entertain. An informative speech requires you to give a neutral, unbiased perspective to the audience, while a persuasive speech attempts to change an audience’s beliefs, feelings, or actions. An entertainment speech is used to celebrate or commemorate something or as part of a ceremony.

In addition to the general purpose, each speech will also have a corresponding specific purpose. The specific purpose identifies what you would like to leave the audience with after your speech. For example, a specific purpose for an informative speech about the pyramids of Giza, Egypt might read: To inform my audience about when and how the pyramids of Giza were built and what they look like today. A specific purpose for a persuasive speech about organ donation might read: To persuade my audience to register as organ donors.

Some professors might prefer that you submit a purpose statement in lieu of a specific purpose. The purpose statement identifies your goal for the audience. Using the example informative speech topic above on the pyramids of Giza, Egypt, your purpose statement might read: At the end of my speech, my audience will know when and how the pyramids of Giza were built and what they look like today.  The organ donation speech might have the following purpose statement: At the end of my speech, my audience members will register as organ donors.

The Central Idea

Once you know your topic and your purpose, it’s time to brainstorm the key message of your speech. This message is known as the central idea, and it serves as a thesis for your presentation. Your instructor may ask you to include a central idea on your outline. Creating a central idea is good practice, because it shows that you can state the main ideas of the speech in one sentence. A central idea elaborates on the speech purpose. For a persuasive speech, the central idea includes what we’re persuading the audience about, and why our viewpoint is correct. For example:

Everyone should register as an organ donor because it’s easy to do, and it could save or drastically improve someone’s life at no cost to the donor. 

For an informative speech, the central idea is a summary thesis, and it gives the main ideas of the speech in one strong statement. For example:

The pyramids of Giza, Egypt, were built by hand over six thousand years ago, and their outer structures and inner chambers are mostly intact today.

A strong central idea should have the following characteristics:

  1. It should be a complete sentence.
  2. It can’t be a question.
  3. It should encapsulate each main idea.

The Speech Introduction

Although your instructor may ask you to include the topic, general purpose, specific purpose, and central idea on your speech outline, you actually won’t share these with your audience as part of your speech. Instead, your presentation to the class should begin with your introduction. The introduction and the conclusion are the most important parts of your speech, because they are the parts that your audience is most likely to remember. Thus, the structure and development of these two parts is crucial to the success of your speech. Your speech introduction should include the following five parts:

  1. Attention-getter
  2. Introduce yourself and your topic
  3. Relate the topic to your audience
  4. Statement of credibility/interest
  5. Summary of your main ideas. 


The first–and most important–thing you can do in a speech introduction is to captivate your audience and interest them in your speech topic. It is much easier to keep someone’s attention than to fight to regain it, so the attention-getter is the first part of your speech that your audience will hear.

There are lots of ways you can help your topic appeal to your listeners. One classic example is to tell a short story. This can either be a personal story, or you can recount a story you heard or read somewhere that leads into your topic. A story can help personalize your topic for the audience and bring in a human connection.

Another way to draw attention to your topic is to startle your audience with a shocking statistic or example that they won’t be expecting. Be careful with this technique. If the audience is already familiar with your “shocking” material, your attention-getter could backfire, and you may end up losing the attention of your audience instead of gaining it.

Many students like to begin their speeches by asking a series of rhetorical questions. This requires the audience to think about the speech topic and make personal applications. If you start your speech in this way, make sure that you ask a few questions. One is rarely enough to generate interest in the topic. Also, the questions should make the audience ponder something. Suppose I began my speech with, “How many of you like lemons? Well, today I’m going to inform you about Miracle Berries.” Did that get your attention? Not likely. Are you excited to hear more about my topic? It’s doubtful. Let’s try that again. “By show of hands, who here likes drinking lemonade? Okay, now who likes having a slice or two of lemons in their drinking water? Now, how many of you would enjoy snacking on slices of lemon – no sugar added? Well, what if I told you there was a way to make lemons taste intensely sweet, without adding any sugar? Today, I’m going to tell you about Miracle Berries…” When using questions as an attention getter, you might consider incorporating a silent survey. This is where you have your audience answer your questions in a physical way, such as by raising a hand. If students answer your questions vocally, the attention-getter will likely go on for far too long. A silent survey keeps the entire audience involved, without letting the audience take over your speech.

Additionally, you could begin with a powerful quote that ties into your topic. Make sure that you tell the audience where the quote comes from. If the source of the quote is someone that your audience is not likely to be familiar with, you may need to contextualize the source and explain why the words of this person are relevant. For example, if I began my speech with this quote, “Taxes are the price we pay for civilized society,” as said by Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior. Who is this person? Nobody knows, so nobody cares. I should contextualize this source, by saying something like, “According to US Supreme Court Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes Junior…“ Now my audience will understand why the person who spoke these words is relevant.

You might also try to get the audience’s attention by making them curious about your topic. Give them some clues, and see if they can guess what your topic will be from these clues. Be sure to take a moment and celebrate with them when they finally guess correctly!

Finally, you can begin your speech with some audience participation. Just make sure this is carefully planned and not too complicated. You don’t want the attention-getter to take up all the allotted time for your speech. One student began her informative presentation by having everyone write down five numbers, between zero and nine, in any order, with no repeats. She then held a mini lottery for the class by randomly drawing numbers from a hat and giving a small prize to the student who’s written-down numbers were the closest to the drawn ones. This was an exciting way to begin a speech on the New York State lottery.

The attention-getter of the speech is arguably the most important part of the presentation. If you don’t capture the audience’s attention, they are less likely to take in the rest of your speech. Thus, it is worthwhile to spend some time developing an engaging attention-getter that you are comfortable delivering.

Introduce yourself and your topic

Now that your audience is focused and interested in what you have to say, you should share with them who you are, and what you will be speaking to them about. This is especially important if you have used a detailed or complex attention-getter, where it may be necessary to clarify your actual topic for the audience.

Statement of Credibility/Interest

Once you have piqued the interest of your audience, and they know who you are and what you’ll be speaking about, it’s time to gain their trust. What makes you a credible speaker on this topic? Share with the audience why you chose this particular subject, and any personal experience you have with it. For example, if I were giving an informative speech on lacrosse: “I was first exposed to lacrosse in middle school, and I went on to play the sport for all four years of high school. Our team was very successful, and we won several championships.”

However, you might give a speech on a topic with which you have had no direct experience. Never fear! You can also tell the audience about the kinds of research you have done to prepare yourself to speak on this subject. For example: “Although I’ve never actually played lacrosse, I’ve always been curious about it. I began preparing for this speech by watching videos online to understand how the sport is played, and I found some great articles to help me understand its history and development.”

Sharing your interest in this topic, along with your experience with it, or an explanation of your research process will show the audience that you are a credible speaker on this topic and someone worth listening to.

Relate the topic to your audience

The next step is to help the audience see how they can relate to the topic you have chosen. Be creative! This can be a challenging step, and it requires some critical thinking. Suppose you are giving a speech where you are persuading your audience that college students shouldn’t have to buy textbooks for their classes. Well, this is an easy one, because almost everyone in your audience will be a college student, and most people like to save money. Now, imagine that you are giving a speech to inform your audience about conjoined twins. It is unlikely that you will have many pairs of conjoined twins in your audience, so how can you make this topic relatable? You might start with the idea that many audience members may want to have children (or more children) someday, or they may know people who plan to have children. It’s important to be informed about a condition that could affect these future children. Also, you could take the angle that we live in a complex world, and we have to deal with lots of different kinds of people. Understanding more about the conditions of people different from ourselves can help us develop empathy. Almost any topic can relate to your audience, but some will take more work than others.

Preview your main ideas

For the final part of the speech introduction, you’ll give your audience a summary of what you’ll specifically be talking about in this speech. This is different from introducing yourself and your topic. There, you might tell the audience that you’ll be informing them about the axolotl. In the preview, you’ll let them know that this speech will describe the physical appearance of the axolotl, where it lives, and how it regenerates different parts of its body. The preview is given at the end of the introduction to help the audience pace the speech. For the example above, when you come to the part about the axolotl regenerating, the audience will know that the speech is almost done. It also helps your audience to know what they should be focusing on during your speech, and what the takeaway will be.

The speech introduction is the foundation of your presentation, and it’s important to ensure that this foundation is sturdy. If the foundation of a building is unstable, the building may crumble and fall apart. Similarly, the speech introduction prepares the audience for the body of the speech. If the introduction is underdeveloped, the rest of the speech will be weakened by association. It is worth taking some extra time to make sure your speech introduction covers each of the five steps.

Transitioning from Point to Point

Suppose you were driving a car down the highway, and the driver in front of you kept switching lanes abruptly without using a turn signal. Wouldn’t that be frustrating? Well, when a speaker doesn’t use transitions, it creates a similarly jarring experience for the audience. Using a transition phrase prepares the audience for a new topic and helps your speech flow logically from point to point. Transitions in a speech are a little bit different from transitions used in written work. When you are writing an essay, you can use a word such as “also” or “however” to move on to your next point. Yet, in a speech, you need to be more specific. The audience needs a clear signal that you are about to begin a new point. In order to transition to your first main point, you might say: “Let’s begin by,” “I’d like to start with,” “First of all, ” “To commence,” etc. For additional main ideas, you could transition with “Moving on,” “My next point will be,” “Now that we’ve looked at__________, I’ll tell you about ________,” etc. Transitions are especially helpful in separating out your main ideas for your audience so that the body of the speech has distinct sections.

The Main Ideas

The main ideas are the major subtopics of your speech. Once you know your speech topic, the next step is to decide on your main ideas. You can’t create a central idea or a speech introduction without them. The main ideas are the topic sentences of your speech. As a general rule, you should have at least two main ideas. If you only have one main idea, your speech has nowhere to go, and it may feel repetitive for the audience. That being said, you generally shouldn’t have more than five main ideas in your speech. Once you get past the fifth main idea, the audience may have trouble remembering the first one! It’s often a good idea to plan on having three main ideas for your speech. Think about how often the number three comes up in life: three strikes in baseball, three wishes, first/, second/, and third place, etc. In writing, this is known as the “Rule of Three.” How many bears does Goldilocks encounter? How many musketeers are there? People are used to hearing things come up in sets of three, and so having three main points may make it easier for your audience to remember them. In the end, though, you will need to decide on the appropriate number of points you need to develop your speech topic for your audience.

The Supporting Material

After you have your Main Ideas planned out, it’s time to start researching material to support these points. For each point, you’ll need some things to talk about. Depending on how you have chosen to organize your speech, you may need to look up some facts to share. This includes definitions, descriptions, and explanations. If you have too many facts, your speech may come across as dry and lacking in depth. Facts are generally used to lay the foundation for your main idea, and you will use other supporting materials to illustrate your point or defend your argument.

As you continue to research your topic, you should look for examples to share. Examples help your audience to understand and relate to your main idea. If I was giving an informative speech on the solar eclipses, I might share a brief example with my audience: “On Monday, August 17th, 2017, a rare, full solar eclipse of the sun crossed the North American continent.” A brief example takes an abstract idea from your speech and quickly translates it into a real-life situation. This can help make your topic clearer for your audience.

In that same speech on solar eclipses, you could also use an extended example. In this situation, you would fill in all the details to create a story for your audience. “It was a day to be remembered. Hotels across North America had been booked over a year in advance, and millions of people traveled to find a spot in the path of totality – the area, about 70 miles wide, that would experience a total eclipse of the sun. As the time of the eclipse drew near, the air felt noticeably colder, and there were strange shadows on the ground. Then, for a little over a minute in most cities, the sky was plunged into darkness and the beautiful, white corona of the sun could be seen, along with a few stars. People gasped and screamed with delight. It was over all too soon, but those who witnessed this event would never forget it.” Extended examples add a personal touch to your speech and can help ensure that you have enough content to reach the timing parameters of your assignment.

Additionally, you may decide to use a hypothetical example. When used in a speech, a hypothetical example puts the audience into your speech. “What if you…” “Suppose you…” “Imagine that you…” These types of examples work well as attention-getters in the introduction, and you can use them throughout your speech to grab the attention of your audience and refocus them on your topic. As the audience members think about how they would respond to the imagined scenario, they are directly engaging with your speech concepts.

If you are looking to build credibility with your audience on your main idea, you should include testimonies as part of your supporting material. In the court of law, a person who has experience with the subject of the trial is called upon to give their opinion or relate their direct experience. This is similar to how testimonies are used in a speech, where you will include quotes from people who are experienced with your topic. These quotes fall into two categories: expert and peer. An expert testimony comes from someone who has professional experience with the topic, or some other publicly recognized form of expertise. A peer testimony is someone who has personal experience with your topic, but this experience is not from a professional or academic standpoint. Now, which is better for your speech, expert or peer testimonies? It depends. People tend to trust an expert testimony about scientific and medical points; however, people relate to a peer testimony more when the speech point has to do with everyday life. Sometimes an expert testimony can feel out of touch with how the average person lives.

Another way to come across as a credible speaker on your topic is to include statistics in your speech. Any numerical data in your speech, except, perhaps, a date or time, would be considered a statistic. When people hear numbers, they are more likely to believe that what you are telling them is backed up by research. However, you need to make sure you are using statistics appropriately. Here are some guidelines to follow when using this type of supporting material:

  1. Cite: if you use a statistic in your speech, you need to tell us where that number came from. Otherwise, we’ll think you made it up!
  2. Sparingly: Don’t use too many statistics in your speech! Remember, statistics are like spices. If you use the right ones, they will bring out the flavors of your meal, but if you use too many, they will overwhelm your meal.
  3. Round: It can be difficult to process complex numbers unless we see them written out. While it’s fine to read that “New York City covers 300.36 miles,” in a speech, it’s better to say that “New York City has just over 300 miles.” It’s okay to be a little less accurate, if it helps you to be understood. Words like, “approximately,” “close to,” “almost,” “nearly,” etc. will come in handy here.
  4. Explain: Help your audience to understand the numbers you are using. For example: “How much is a billion dollars? You could spend $100,000 a day for 25 years before you’d run out of cash.” During your speech, help us grasp complicated numbers in terms we can relate to.

No matter what materials you decide to use in your speech to support your main ideas, you’ll want to include citations in your outline to show where you found this information. Unlike writing, which has several formal citation styles, there is no specific way to cite your sources in your speech body. Your professor may require you to use a particular writing citation style (APA, MLA, Chicago, Associated Press). If not, note that speech citations should include at least the source where you found the information and the date the information was published. You may also include the author of the information, but you may need to contextualize this for us. For example, if I said during my speech, “According to Bob Smith…,” who is Bob Smith? No one knows, and no one cares. However, if I said, “According to the financial journalist Bob Smith, in an article published by the New York Times last month…,” people may care more about Bob’s point of view. The date is important here because the recency of your information can affect its relevance. Unlike citation in a paper, you don’t need to cite your source every time you use information from it. This would become tedious for the audience to listen to. Instead, you should add your citation at the beginning or end of when you are sharing information from that source. For example: “All of the statistics I’ve shared today come from the Red Cross website, updated in 2019.” Or, “The examples you’ll be hearing in my speech all come from the Mermaid documentary published on Animal Planet in 2011.” These oral citations give your audience enough information about your source to be able to find the full reference on your outline, if they need to verify something.

The Speech Conclusion

Once you have finished taking your audience on a journey through the main ideas of your speech, it’s time to draw things to a close. However, you need to give your audience a hint that the end is coming. We call this a signal. If you forget to signal the end of your speech, you may finish speaking and find that your audience does not break into applause. They didn’t realize you were on your way to the finish line. Giving your audience a signal alerts them that your speech will be over soon and helps them emotionally prepare for the end of your speech. The signal can be given a specific phrase, such as, “I’d like to end by…” or, “to wrap things up.” Pay attention, and you may notice that your college professors will often use a verbal signal near the end of the class session, such as, “and last of all…” or “before we go…” Try using a signal phrase in your next presentation, and see if you can spot your audience visibly perking up when they hear it. More advanced signals can also signal the end of the speech by changing the rate, pitch, or volume of their remarks. However, if you are using this technique, be sure to practice in front of someone before your actual presentation in class. You may think that you’re effecting a great change in the way you are speaking, but those changes might need to be exaggerated to be noticeable by your audience. The only way you’ll know for sure is to get some live feedback.

The signal of the conclusion leads into a brief summary of your main ideas. Simply restate an overview of the main ideas you just covered to help your audience retain the message of your speech. You may notice that your professors will also do this near the end of a class session. “Today we have covered…” is a common way for this to begin.

You’ll want to cap off your conclusion with a strong statement. It’s a good idea to actually plan out, word for word, what you would like to say for the last line of your speech. The audience is most likely to remember the first thing you said, and the last thing you said, so these words are the most important part of your speech. As much as you are able, commit them to memory. This will help you to make eye contact with your audience as you speak to help the words land with maximum effect. A strong statement can be a quote, or it can refer back to something you said in your introduction. In a persuasive speech, this statement will usually contain a call to action, or it will reinforce what you want your audience to believe, feel or do after hearing your presentation. For an informative speech, the strong statement should reinforce the importance of knowing about your topic, or what makes it so interesting.

It may be useful to think of the Three S’s of the speech conclusion as you work on this part of your presentation. Using a signal, summary, and strong statement will provide closure for the audience and help them to remember the ideas that you shared.

Creating a List of References

The last piece of your outline will generally be a list of references that you have used to provide source material for your speech. There should be at least one citation in the body of your speech from each reference. A reference is not just a website link to your research, but it shares details about your source in an organized format. You will generally need to provide the author’s name and the title of the piece, along with the name of the source you got this information from, and the date it was published. If you found the source online, you will also include the URL for the web page where this source can be found. There are standardized ways to organize all this information, and your professor may ask you to use a specific format. The two most common styles for formatting references are MLA and APA. You can find many resources, both online, and in your college’s library, to help you apply the correct formatting of the style your professor has requested. Carefully following these guidelines will add a professional polish to your speech outline and help you develop attention to detail in your written work, which is a valuable skill in the workforce, and in daily life.

Practicing with the Outline

As you are preparing to present your speech, it may be helpful to highlight key words and phrases so that you can quickly find the information you need in a single glance. This way you can have consistent eye contact with your audience. You want to avoid bobbing your head up and down as you speak, alternating between reading and seeing your audience. Remember, the outline is merely there to keep you on track. You don’t have to say all the words exactly as you have written them. In fact, your words will have much greater impact with the audience if you can create the impression that you are speaking spontaneously. Don’t be afraid to check in with your outline to make sure you have included all your ideas, and in the correct order, but also don’t rely so much on the outline that you are not connected to the audience.

If your instructor has asked you to include a speech topic, general purpose, specific purpose, purpose statement, and/or central idea on your outline, do not include these as part of your speech presentation. They belong on the outline to show your professor that you understood the topic and the goals for the assignment, and that you had a clear thesis for the speech, but you don’t share these out loud with your audience. Likewise, you also won’t read off the references to the audience at the end. These are part of the written assignment, but your oral citations are sufficient to establish your credibility in your presentation. For each speech assignment, you’ll begin with the introduction and finish up with the conclusion.

To help you prepare for your in-class presentation, you should plan on practicing your speech out loud, with a timer, in front of at least one other person. The first time you run through your speech in this way, you’ll find out what you’ve got, and you will likely need to make some adjustments to your outline. You can also get some feedback on your speech delivery, so that you can begin to refine your presentation skills. Continue this process of making changes and then practicing again in front of someone. In general, by the fifth time you’ve gone through the speech, you have it loosely committed to memory. You will know the overall flow of your topics and supporting material, and you can focus on connecting with your audience.


Remember the example of the disjointed building at the beginning of this chapter? The building had important rooms, but it was very difficult to navigate between them and make use of them. This concept also applies to your speech. You might find interesting examples and compelling arguments, but if they are not organized well, your audience may miss them. A well-organized speech will help your audience process and remember your message and will give you greater confidence as a speaker. Spending a little extra time polishing your outline will pay off in dividends towards a speech performance that you can be proud of.

Review Questions

  1. Why is it important to create an outline for a presentation?
  2. What are the three general purposes of a speech presentation?
  3. What is the difference between a specific purpose, or purpose statement, and a central idea?
  4. What are the five parts of a speech introduction?
  5. How do speech transitions help the audience?
  6. Which type of example generally works well as an attention-getter for a speech?
  7. Why should we use statistics sparingly in our presentations?
  8. When would a peer testimony be more credible with the audience than an expert testimony?
  9. How does oral citation differ from the type of citation you would include in an essay?
  10. What could you say to signal the end of your speech?
  11. What might be included on your outline that would not be spoken out loud as part of your speech?

Class Activities

  • Read aloud a series of specific purposes or purpose statements, and have the students classify the speech categories as “Informative,” “Persuasive,” or “Special Occasion.”
  • Write down different types of attention-getters on small pieces of paper, such as “Story,” “Startle,” “Rhetorical Questions,” “Quote,” “Make the audience curious,” “Audience Participation,” etc. Break the students into small groups, and have each group blindly choose an attention-getter from the pile. Then, give the entire class a topic, such as “chewing gum.” Each group has to come up with an attention-getter for this topic in the category they selected.
  • Have the students help you come up with a list of 10-14 totally random, but specific, people, places, or things. Help them out with a few – mustaches, the Black Widow spider, North Dakota, etc. Once you have a list, pair the students up and have them share how they would have credibility on this topic. Do they have personal experience with it? Will they need to do research?
  • Keeping the same list above, have the students work with their partner to decide how they would relate this topic to their diverse classroom audience.
  • Create an abbreviated preparation outline for the students that includes the general purpose, specific purpose, central Idea, and a list of main points. Break the students into groups and give each group either the introduction or a main point. The groups will prepare 1-2 minutes of content for their section and elect a spokesperson to present this to the class. Once the students are prepared, start a timer and do the presentation. The instruction should provide transitions between main ideas, as well as the conclusion.
  • Have the students look up a quote from their favorite celebrity. It has to come from an article, though, and not a “Quotes” website. Put them into groups to share, and let each group pick the best one to present to the class. The elected spokesperson for that group will need to complete this oral citation phrase: “According to_______, reported by________(website or periodical) on _______(date)…” and then relay the quote.
  • Assemble Make 5-10 enlarged copies of both an APA reference and an MLA references. Cut the copies up so that the author, article title, published date, Retrieval URL, etc., are all on different parts. Divide the class into groups and give each group an APA “puzzle” to assemble. The first group to correctly assemble their reference wins! Repeat with the MLA reference.
  • Pass out a lined index card to each student. Give the students an easy topic, and have them free write in complete sentences on this topic until either the time is up or the card is filled. Next, have the students choose 10 key words that will help them remember what they wrote, and list those words on the blank side of the card. Then, pair the students up. Decide on a “Person A” and a “Person B.” “Person A” begins, and flips the card so that he or she can see only the key words, and the partner can see the freewriting. Have “Person A” attempt to share what he or she wrote with “Person B,” using only the key words as a prompt. At the end, “Person B” will let him or her know if anything was left out. Finally, switch roles, so that the other partner can present. Have a discussion with the class about the difference between presentation notes and preparation outlines.

Works Cited

Gallo, Carmine. Talk Like TED. New York, NY: Macmillan. 2014. Print.

Hemmert, Nancy Grass. Public Speaking in American English: A Guide for Non-Native Speakers. 1st  edition. New York, NY: Pearson. 2007. Print.

Lucas, Stephen. E. The Art of Public Speaking. 12th edition. New York, NY: McGraw Hill. 2014. Print.

Powell, Susanna, et al. Stand and Deliver: High Impact Presentations. 4th edition.  New York, NY: Pearson. 2014 Print.


Icon for the Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License

Structure and Format: Outlining the Speech Copyright © by Rebecca Collier, M.B.A. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

Share This Book