Speech Writing – How to Prepare a Speech Outline


You will organize your speech similar to a story meaning that you need a beginning, middle and an end. You will make a point or state a major idea and then offer supporting evidence.

The outline of your speech may follow one of the following three templates.

1. A chronological outline moves from the past towards the present or future. For example, the director of the hospital may be giving a speech at a fund-raising dinner. The director might talk about the founding of the hospital, the key events in the hospital’s history such as the opening of a new cancer wing, and finally the director might describe the current shortcomings or specific treatments that are presently not available.

2. The next type of speech is based on cause and effect relationships. The strategy is to first described the effect and then to explain the possible causes. For example, one might be discussing the effect of global warming. The next step would be to explain the possible causes for temperature change such as increased emissions of coal during the recent industrialization of the Chinese economy. An offshoot of this type of outline is that it first describes a problem and then goes on to propose specific solutions.

3. The comparative outline is often used in business presentations with the objective being to persuade the audience that one plan is better than the other. For example, the outline would compare and contrast different proposals for cutting costs at a company. One proposal might be lay offs while another proposal might be to cut capacity at a manufacturing plant. The outline would first highlight both proposals and then the speaker would try to persuade the audience for why one proposal makes more business sense.

The most important thing to remember when writing the speech is to constantly focus on your main theme. Always ask yourself “what’s the point of my speech?” Inexperienced speakers will ramble off topic because they have not distilled a clear message. If you can set out a clear roadmap of your speech that the audience can follow you will improve their retention rate and become a more powerful and memorable speaker.