Basics of Public Speaking
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Lesson 4 - Five Tips for Organizing Your Speech

Why organize a speech? After an average speech, most listeners remember very little of what they heard! As mentioned in Lesson 2, your speech often will include three main ideas or three examples. Having three points helps the human brain remember better than only one or two main points. This article will show you how you can put these main points into various organizational structures. If your speech is well organized, the listener can use that organization as a framework to aid in remembering your message.

Tip One

One of the most common ways to organize a speech is chronologically, according to time. Explain what happened first, then second then third. Take your time with each section, then pause at the end of each section to signal a transition. This is the same method of organization of any story, which always has a beginning, a middle, and an end.

Tip Two

A similar approach is the "Past, Present, Future" approach. While the chronological approach can be used to describe a situation that is completely in the past, or completely in the future, the "Past, Present, Future" way of organizing takes a longer-term view. In your speech, you could describe the situation as it has been in the past. In other words, you can give some history. Then you could describe the current situation as it is right now. Finally, you can ask the audience to think of the future and how the situation could improve for the better.

Tip Three

Another good way to order your message by logic. One way to do this is to use the "cause and effect" approach. Explain the cause first, giving enough detail for the audience to understand, then describe the result. Another common way is to use the "problem and solution" approach. Describe the problem, especially from the point of view of your audience, followed by your suggested solution.

Tip Four

An easy method of organizing your presentation is by using the comparison approach. Describe Situation A (or Problem A or Example A, or whatever) then show how Situation B (or Problem B or Example B) is different. You could describe all of Situation A first, in great detail, before comparing it to Situation B. Another option is to jump back and forth between A and B - explain one point about A and compare it to B, then take a second point about A, etc.

Tip Five

For almost any topic, it is possible to use the PGP approach: particular - general - back to particular. You could start with a very specific story to introduce your topic. After that, you can explain, in general terms, what your message is. When you are done, conclude by reminding the audience of your specific example (or a similar example) to burn your message into their brains.S

One warning! Do NOT make your organization too complex. Keep it simple so that everyone in the audience can follow your speech and remember your message. Whichever way you choose, it will be helpful to have a clear structure to your speech. To further aid in memory, you can let the audience know about your organization in your introduction, then remind them of it again in your conclusion. That leads us to the next article which is Lesson 5 - Powerful Openings.

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