How to Develop a Working Outline for a Speech


A successful public speaker is someone who takes time to prepare for the speech. Audiences can tell if a speaker has educated herself on the topic and put thought into her words. Likewise, they can spot the casual speaker who talks off the cuff and rambles from one thought to the next. Increase the effectiveness of your speech by creating a working outline, which will serve as a useful tool as you step behind the microphone.

  • Identify the purpose of your speech. Think about your speech topic in terms of the audience's knowledge level and interest. If you are speaking to a group of high school students about applying to college, your speech should serve to inform them about their college options and encourage them to work hard to gain college admission. Jot down the purpose of your speech at the top of your outline.

  • Build an introduction. Your introduction should captivate the audience and tell them exactly what your speech is going to be about. You do not want your audience wondering what you are talking about. Write down potential questions you can use to engage the audience and get them thinking. Keep the answers brief. Then, write down the thesis of your speech, which should be a concise statement that identifies the position you will take or argument you will make.

  • Write down the main points of your speech. Each main point should directly support the thesis of your speech. Under each main point, jot down a fact or piece of information that supports that point. Your speech will have more impact if you have conducted research that supports your argument.

  • Develop a conclusion. Write down your thesis and main points in the conclusion section of your outline, as you need to restate these points to bolster your argument.

  • Write down a call to action. Your speech should end with a call to action for the audience. Using the sample speech to high school students, your call to action could be for students to schedule a meeting with their guidance counselor, investigate college options online or maintain a high GPA to increase their college options. Your call to action does not have to be grand or far-reaching; it simply should be something that encourages the audience to do something in support of your argument.

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