Chapter 9 Public Speaking

9.6 Organization & Outlines

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Person putting together a metal puzzle

In a series of important and groundbreaking studies conducted during the 1950’s and 1960’s, researchers started investigating how a speech’s organization was related to audience perceptions of those speeches. The first study, conducted by Raymond Smith in 1951, randomly organized the parts of a speech to see how audiences would react. Not surprisingly, when speeches were randomly organized, the audience perceived the speech more negatively than when audiences were presented with a speech with clear, intentional organization. Smith also found that audiences who listened to unorganized speeches were less interested in those speeches than audiences who listened to organized speeches. Thompson furthered this investigation and found that unorganized speeches were also harder for audiences to recall after the speech. Basically, people remember information from speeches that are clearly organized—and forget information from speeches that are poorly organized. A third study by Baker found that when audiences were presented with a disorganized speaker, they were less likely to be persuaded, and saw the disorganized speaker as lacking credibility.

These three very important studies make the importance of organization very clear. When speakers are not organized they are not perceived as credible and their audiences view the speeches negatively, are less likely to be persuaded, and don’t remember specific information from the speeches after the fact.

Determining Your Main Ideas

Photograph of The Thinker, by Rodin

When creating a speech, it’s important to remember that speeches have three clear parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. The introduction establishes the topic and orients your audience, and the conclusion wraps everything up at the end of your speech. The real “meat” of your speech happens in the body. In this section, we’re going to discuss how to think strategically about the body of your speech.

We like the word strategic because it refers to determining what is important or essential to the overall plan or purpose of your speech. Too often, new speakers just throw information together and stand up and start speaking. When that happens, audience members are left confused and the reason for the speech may get lost. To avoid being seen as disorganized, we want you to start thinking critically about the organization of your speech.

In this section, we will discuss how to take your speech from a specific purpose to creating the main points of your speech. We will then move to discussing how to create an effective introduction and conclusion.

 

From Specific Purpose to Main Points

Once you have written down your specific purpose, you can now start thinking about the best way to turn that specific purpose into a series of main points. Main points are the key ideas you present to enable your speech to accomplish its specific purpose. In this section, we’re going to discuss how to determine your main points and how to organize those main points into a coherent, strategic speech.

How Many Main Points Do I Need?

While there is no magic number for how many main points a speech should have, speech experts generally agree that the fewer the number of main points the better. First and foremost, experts on the subject of memory have consistently shown that people don’t tend to remember very much after they listen to a message or leave a conversation. While many different factors can affect a listener’s ability to retain information after a speech, how the speech is organized is an important part of that process.For the speeches you will be delivering in a typical public speaking class, you will usually have just two or three main points. If your speech is less than three minutes long, then two main points will probably work best. If your speech is between three and ten minutes in length, then it makes more sense to use three main points.

According to LeFrancois (1999), people are more likely to remember information that is meaningful, useful, and of interest to them; different or unique; organized; visual; and simple. Two or three main points are much easier for listeners to remember than ten or even five. In addition, if you have two or three main points, you’ll be able to develop each one with examples, statistics, or other forms of support. This breakdown of support is called subordinationthe act of placing in a lower rank or position. Using supporting or subordinate points help you to better understand how ideas are connected and how ideas or points are providing more information as you explain or provide more detail. Including support for each point will make your speech more interesting and more memorable for your audience.

Narrowing Down Your Main Points

When you write your specific purpose and review the research you have done on your topic, you will probably find yourself thinking of quite a few points that you’d like to make in your speech. Whether that’s the case or not, we recommend taking a few minutes to brainstorm and develop a list of points. In brainstorming, your goal is simply to think of as many different points as you can, not to judge how valuable or important they are. What information does your audience need to know to understand your topic? What information does your speech need to convey to accomplish its specific purpose? Consider the following example:

Specific Purpose

To inform a group of school administrators about the various open-source software packages that could be utilized in their school districts

Brainstorming List of Points

  • Define open-source software.
  • Define educational software.
  • List and describe the software commonly used by school districts.
  • Explain the advantages of using open-source software.
  • Explain the disadvantages of using open-source software.
  • Review the history of open-source software.
  • Describe the value of open-source software.
  • Describe some educational open-source software packages.
  • Review the software needs of my specific audience.
  • Describe some problems that have occurred with open-source software.

Now that you have brainstormed and developed a list of possible points, how do you go about narrowing them down to just two or three main ones? When you look over the preceding list, you can then start to see that many of the points are related to one another. Your goal in narrowing down your main points is to identify which individual, potentially minor points can be combined to make main points.

Specific Purpose

To inform a group of school administrators about the various open-source software packages that could be utilized in their school districts

Main Point 1: School districts use software in their operations.

  • Define educational software.
  • List and describe the software commonly used by school districts.

Main Point 2: What is open-source software?

  • Define open-source software.
  • Review the history of open-source software.
  • Explain the advantages of using open-source software.
  • Describe the value of open-source software.
  • Explain the disadvantages of using open-source software.
  • Describe some problems that have occurred with open-source software.

Main Point 3: Name some specific open-source software packages that may be appropriate for these school administrators to consider.

  • Review the software needs of my specific audience.
  • Describe some educational open-source software packages.

You may notice that in the preceding list, the number of subpoints under each of the three main points is a little disjointed or the topics don’t go together clearly. That’s all right. Remember that these are just general ideas at this point. It’s also important to remember that there is often more than one way to organize a speech. Some of these points could be left out and others developed more fully, depending on the purpose and audience. We’ll develop the preceding main points more fully in a moment.

Helpful Hints for Preparing Your Main Points

Now that we’ve discussed how to take a specific purpose and turn it into a series of main points, here are some helpful hints for creating your main points.

Uniting Your Main Points

Once you’ve generated a possible list of main points, you want to ask yourself this question: “When you look at your main points, do they fit together?” For example, if you look at the three preceding main points (school districts use software in their operations; what is open-source software; name some specific open-source software packages that may be appropriate for these school administrators to consider), ask yourself, “Do these main points help my audience understand my specific purpose?” Suppose you added a fourth main point about open-source software for musicians—would this fourth main point go with the other three? Probably not. While you may have a strong passion for open-source music software, that main point is extraneous information for the speech you are giving. It does not help accomplish your specific purpose, so you’d need to toss it out.

Keeping Your Main Points Separate

The next question to ask yourself about your main points is whether they overlap too much. While some overlap may happen naturally because of the singular nature of a specific topic, the information covered within each main point should be clearly distinct from the other main points. Imagine you’re giving a speech with the specific purpose “to inform my audience about the health reasons for eating apples and oranges.” You could then have three main points: that eating fruits is healthy, that eating apples is healthy, and that eating oranges is healthy. While the two points related to apples and oranges are clearly distinct, both of those main points would probably overlap too much with the first point “that eating fruits is healthy,” so you would probably decide to eliminate the first point and focus on the second and third. On the other hand, you could keep the first point and then develop two new points giving additional support to why people should eat fruit.

Balancing Main Points

One of the biggest mistakes some speakers make is to spend most of their time talking about one of their main points, completely neglecting their other main points. To avoid this mistake, organize your speech so as to spend roughly the same amount of time on each main point. If you find that one of your main points is simply too large, you may need to divide that main point into two main points and consolidate your other main points into a single main point.

Let’s see if our preceding example is balanced (school districts use software in their operations; what is open-source software; name some specific open-source software packages that may be appropriate for these school administrators to consider). What do you think? Obviously, the answer depends on how much time a speaker will have to talk about each of these main points. If you have an hour to talk, then you may find that these three main points are balanced. However, you may also find them wildly unbalanced if you only have five minutes to speak because five minutes is not enough time to even explain what open-source software is. If that’s the case, then you probably need to rethink your specific purpose of ensuring that you can cover the material in the allotted time.

Creating Parallel Structure for Main Points

Another major question to ask yourself about your main points is whether or not they have a parallel structure. By parallel structure, we mean that you should structure your main points so that they all sound similar. When all your main points sound similar, it’s simply easier for your audiences to remember your main points and retain them for later. Let’s look at our sample (school districts use software in their operations; what is open-source software; name some specific open-source software packages that may be appropriate for these school administrators to consider). Notice that the first and third main points are statements, but the second one is a question. Basically, we have an example here of main points that are not parallel in structure. You could fix this in one of two ways. You could make them all questions: what are some common school district software programs; what is open-source software; and what are some specific open-source software packages that may be appropriate for these school administrators to consider. Or you could turn them all into statements: school districts use software in their operations; define and describe open-source software; name some specific open-source software packages that may be appropriate for these school administrators to consider. Either of these changes will make the grammatical structure of the main points parallel.

Maintaining Logical Flow of Main Points

The last question you want to ask yourself about your main points is whether the main points make sense in the order you’ve placed them. The next section goes into more detail of common organizational patterns for speeches, but for now, we want you to just think logically about the flow of your main points. When you look at your main points, can you see them as progressive, or does it make sense to talk about one first, another one second, and the final one last? If you look at your order, and it doesn’t make sense to you, you probably need to think about the flow of your main points. Often, this process is an art and not a science. But let’s look at a couple of examples.

School Dress Codes Example

Main Point One History of school dress codes
Main Point Two Problems with school dress codes
Main Point Three Eliminating school dress codes

Rider Law Legislation Example

Main Point One Why should states have rider laws?
Main Point Two What are the effects of a lack of rider laws?
Main Point Three What is rider law legislation?

When you look at these two examples, what are your immediate impressions of the two examples? In the first example, does it make sense to talk about history, and then the problems, and finally how to eliminate school dress codes? Would it make sense to put history as your last main point? Probably not. In this case, the main points are in a logical sequential order. What about the second example? Does it make sense to talk about your solution, then your problem, and then define the solution? Not really! What order do you think these main points should be placed in for a logical flow? Maybe you should explain the problem (lack of rider laws), then define your solution (what is rider law legislation), and then argue for your solution (why states should have rider laws). Notice that in this example you don’t even need to know what “rider laws” are to see that the flow didn’t make sense.

All speeches start with a general purpose and then move to a specific purpose that gives the who, what, where, and how for the speech. Transitioning from the specific purpose to possible main points means developing a list of potential main points you could discuss. Then you can narrow your focus by looking for similarities among your potential main points and combining ones that are similar. Shorter speeches will have two main points while longer speeches will generally have three or more main points. When creating your main points, make sure that they are united, separate, balanced, parallel, and logical.r do to fix your main points?

Organizational Patterns-Informative Speeches

This section is going to provide you with a number of organizational patterns to help you create a logically organized speech. The organizational patterns below are the most commonly used structures for informative speeches. Persuasive speeches use different organizational formats that are not included in this section.

Topical

By far the most common pattern for organizing a speech is a topical organizational pattern, organizing by categories or dividing the topic into subtopics. The categories function as a way to help the speaker organize the message in a consistent fashion. The goal of a topical speech pattern is to create categories (or chunks) of information that go together to help support your original specific purpose. Let’s look at an example.

Specific Purpose: To inform a group of high school juniors about Generic University

Main Points

  1. Life in the dorms
  2. Life in the classroom
  3. Life on campus

In this case, we have a speaker trying to inform a group of high school juniors about Generic University. The speaker has divided the information into three basic categories: what it’s like to live in the dorms, what classes are like, and what life is like on campus. Almost anyone could take this basic speech and specifically tailor the speech to fit her or his own university or college. The main points in this example could be rearranged and the organizational pattern would still be effective because there is no inherent logic to the sequence of points. Let’s look at a second example.

Specific Purpose: To inform a group of college students about the uses and misuses of Internet dating

Main Points

  1. Define and describe Internet dating.
  2. Explain some strategies to enhance your Internet dating experience.
  3. List some warning signs to look for in potential online dates.

In this speech, the speaker is talking about how to find others online and date them. Specifically, the speaker starts by explaining what Internet dating is; then the speaker talks about how to make Internet dating better for her or his audience members; and finally, the speaker ends by discussing some negative aspects of Internet dating. Again, notice that the information is chunked into three categories or topics and that the second and third could be reversed and still provide a logical structure for your speech.

Comparison/Contrast

Another method for organizing main points is the comparison/contrast organizational patternmeasuring similarities and differences between two or more subjects. While this pattern clearly lends itself easily to two main points, you can also create a third point by giving basic information about what is being compared and what is being contrasted. Let’s look at two examples; the first one will be a two-point example and the second a three-point example.

Specific Purpose: To inform a group of physicians about Drug X, a newer drug with similar applications to Drug Y

Main Points

  1. Show how Drug X and Drug Y are similar.
  2. Show how Drug X and Drug Y differ.

Specific Purpose: To inform a group of physicians about Drug X, a newer drug with similar applications to Drug Y

Main Points

  1. Explain the basic purpose and use of both Drug X and Drug Y.
  2. Show how Drug X and Drug Y are similar.
  3. Show how Drug X and Drug Y differ.

If you were using the comparison/contrast pattern for persuasive purposes, in the preceding examples, you’d want to make sure that when you show how Drug X and Drug Y differ, you clearly state why Drug X is clearly the better choice for physicians to adopt. In essence, you’d want to make sure that when you compare the two drugs, you show that Drug X has all the benefits of Drug Y, but when you contrast the two drugs, you show how Drug X is superior to Drug Y in some way.

Spatial

The spatial organizational pattern organizes information according to how things fit together in physical space, either geographically or directionally. This pattern is best used when your main points are oriented to different locations that can exist independently. The basic reason to choose this format is to show that the main points have clear locations. We’ll look at two examples here, one involving physical geography and one involving a different spatial order.

Specific Purpose: To inform a group of history students about the states that seceded from the United States during the Civil War

Main Points

  1. Locate and describe the Confederate states just below the Mason-Dixon Line (Virginia, North Carolina, and Tennessee).
  2. Locate and describe the Confederate states in the Deep South (South Carolina, Georgia, Alabama, Mississippi, and Florida).
  3. Locate and describe the western Confederate states (Louisiana, Arkansas, and Texas).

If you look at a basic map of the United States, you’ll notice that these groupings of states were created because of their geographic location to one another. In essence, the states create three spatial territories to explain.

Now let’s look at a spatial speech unrelated to geography.

Specific Purpose: To explain to a group of college biology students how the urinary system works

Main Points

  1. Locate and describe the kidneys and ureters.
  2. Locate and describe the bladder.
  3. Locate and describe the sphincter and urethra.

In this example, we still have three basic spatial areas. If you look at a model of the urinary system, the first step is the kidney, which then takes waste through the ureters to the bladder, which then relies on the sphincter muscle to excrete waste through the urethra. All we’ve done in this example is create a spatial speech order for discussing how waste is removed from the human body through the urinary system. It is spatial because the organization pattern is determined by the physical location of each body part in relation to the others discussed.

Chronological

The chronological organizational pattern organizes the main idea in time order or in a sequential pattern—whether backward or forward. Here’s a simple example.

Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about the books written by Winston Churchill

Main Points

  1. Examine the style and content of Winston Churchill’s writings prior to World War II.
  2. Examine the style and content of Winston Churchill’s writings during World War II.
  3. Examine the style and content of Winston Churchill’s writings after World War II.

In this example, we’re looking at the writings of Winston Churchill in relation to World War II (before, during, and after). By placing his writings into these three categories, we develop a system for understanding this material based on Churchill’s own life. Note that you could also use reverse chronological order and start with Churchill’s writings after World War II, progressing backward to his earliest writings.

Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about the early life of Marilyn Manson

Main Points

  1. Describe Brian Hugh Warner’s early life and the beginning of his feud with Christianity.
  2. Describe Warner’s stint as a music journalist in Florida.
  3. Describe Warner’s decision to create Marilyn Manson and the Spooky Kids.

In this example, we see how Brian Warner, through three major periods of his life, ultimately became the musician known as Marilyn Manson.

Causal

The causal organizational pattern organizes and explains cause-and-effect relationships. When you use a causal speech pattern, your speech will have two basic main points: cause and effect. In the first main point, typically you will talk about the causes of a phenomenon, and in the second main point, you will then show how the causes lead to either a specific effect or a small set of effects. Let’s look at an example.

Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about the problems associated with drinking among members of Native American tribal groups

Main Points

  1. Explain the history and prevalence of drinking alcohol among Native Americans.
  2. Explain the effects that abuse of alcohol has on Native Americans and how this differs from the experience of other populations.

In this case, the first main point is about the history and prevalence of drinking alcohol among Native Americans (the cause). The second point then examines the effects of Native American alcohol consumption and how it differs from other population groups.

However, a causal organizational pattern can also begin with an effect and then explore one or more causes. In the following example, the effect is the number of arrests for domestic violence.

Specific Purpose: To inform local voters about the problem of domestic violence in our city

Main Points

  1. Explain that there are significantly more arrests for domestic violence in our city than in cities of comparable size in our state.
  2. List possible causes for the difference, which may be unrelated to the actual amount of domestic violence.

In this example, the possible causes for the difference might include stricter law enforcement, greater likelihood of neighbors reporting an incident, and police training that emphasizes arrests as opposed to other outcomes. Examining these possible causes may suggest that despite the arresting statistic, the actual number of domestic violence incidents in your city may not be greater than in other cities of similar size.

Selecting an Organizational Pattern

Each of the preceding organizational patterns is potentially useful for organizing the main points of your speech. However, not all organizational patterns work for all speeches. Your challenge is to choose the best pattern for the particular speech you are giving. When considering which organizational pattern to use, you need to keep in mind your specific purpose as well as your audience and the actual speech material itself to decide which pattern you think will work best. Ultimately, speakers must really think about which organizational pattern best suits a specific speech topic.

 

Creating an Introduction

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The introduction for a speech is generally only 10 to 15 percent of the entire time the speaker will spend speaking. This means that if your speech is to be five minutes long, your introduction should be no more than forty-five seconds. If your speech is to be ten minutes long, then your introduction should be no more than a minute and a half. Unfortunately, that 10 to 15 percent of your speech can either make your audience interested in what you have to say or cause them to tune out before you’ve really gotten started. Overall, a good introduction should serve five functions. Let’s examine each of these.

Gain Audience Attention and Interest

The first major purpose of an introduction is to gain your audience’s attention and make them interested in what you have to say. One of the biggest mistakes that novice speakers make is to assume that people will naturally listen because the speaker is speaking. While many audiences may be polite and not talk while you’re speaking, actually getting them to listen to what you are saying is a completely different challenge. Let’s face it—we’ve all tuned someone out at some point because we weren’t interested in what they had to say. If you do not get the audience’s attention at the outset, it will only become more difficult to do so as you continue speaking.

Typically, there are four things to consider in choosing a specific attention-getting device.  First, when selecting an attention-getting device, you want to make sure that the option you choose is actually appropriate and relevant to your specific audience. Different audiences will have different backgrounds and knowledge, so you should use your audience analysis to determine whether specific information you plan on using would be appropriate for a specific audience. Second, you need to consider the basic purpose of your speech. As discussed earlier in this text, there are three basic purposes you can have for giving a speech: to inform, to persuade, and to entertain. When selecting an attention-getter, you want to make sure that you select one that corresponds with your basic purpose.  Remember, one of the basic goals of an introduction is to prepare your audience for your speech. If your attention-getter differs drastically in tone from the rest of your speech (e.g., dying in Africa when you want your audience to laugh), the disjointedness may cause your audience to become confused or tune you out completely. Your third basic consideration when picking an attention-getting device is your speech topic. Ideally, your attention-getting device should have a relevant connection to your speech. The last consideration when picking an attention-getting device involves the speech occasion. Different occasions will necessitate different tones, or particular styles or manners of speaking. For example, a persuasive speech about death and dying shouldn’t be happy and hilarious. An informative speech on the benefits of laughing shouldn’t be dull, dreary, and depressing. When selecting an attention-getter, you want to make sure that the attention-getter sets the tone for the speech.

Now that we’ve explored the four major considerations you must think of when selecting an attention-getter, let’s look at a range of different attention-getters you may employ.

Reference to Subject

The first attention-getting method to consider is to tell your audience the subject of your speech. This device is probably the most direct, but it may also be the least interesting of the possible attention-getters. Here’s an example:

We are surrounded by statistical information in today’s world, so understanding statistics is becoming paramount to citizenship in the twenty-first century.

This sentence explicitly tells an audience that the speech they are about to hear is about the importance of understanding statistics. While this isn’t the most entertaining or interesting attention-getter, it is very clear and direct.

Reference to Audience

The second attention-getting device to consider is a direct reference to the audience. In this case, the speaker has a clear understanding of the audience and points out that there is something unique about the audience that should make them interested in the speech’s content. Here’s an example:

As human resource professionals, you and I know the importance of talent management. In today’s competitive world, we need to invest in getting and keeping the best talent for our organizations to succeed.

In this example, the speaker reminds the audience of their shared status as human resource professionals and uses the common ground to acknowledge the importance of talent management in human resources.

Dave Dugdale – Attentive Audience – CC BY-SA 2.0.

Quotation

Another way to capture your listeners’ attention is to use the words of another person that relate directly to your topic. Maybe you’ve found a really great quotation in one of the articles or books you read while researching your speech. If not, you can also use a number of sources that compile useful quotations from noted individuals. Probably the most famous quotation book of all time isBartlett’s Familiar Quotations(http://www.bartleby.com/100), now in its seventeenth edition. Here are some other websites that contain useful databases of quotations for almost any topic:

Quotations are a great way to start a speech, so let’s look at an example that could be used for a speech on deception:

Oliver Goldsmith, a sixteenth-century writer, poet, and physician, once noted that “the true use of speech is not so much to express our wants as to conceal them.”

Reference to Current Events

Referring to a current news event that relates to your topic is often an effective way to capture attention, as it immediately makes the audience aware of how relevant the topic is in today’s world. For example, consider this attention-getter for a persuasive speech on frivolous lawsuits:

On January 10, 2007, Scott Anthony Gomez Jr. and a fellow inmate escaped from a Pueblo, Colorado, jail. During their escape the duo attempted to rappel from the roof of the jail using a makeshift ladder of bed sheets. During Gomez’s attempt to scale the building, he slipped, fell forty feet, and injured his back. After being quickly apprehended, Gomez filed a lawsuit against the jail for making it too easy for him to escape.

In this case, the speaker is highlighting a news event that illustrates what a frivolous lawsuit is, setting up the speech topic of a need for change in how such lawsuits are handled.

Historical Reference

You may also capture your listeners’ attention by referring to a historical event related to your topic. Obviously, this strategy is closely related to the previous one, except that instead of a recent news event you are reaching further back in history to find a relevant reference. For example, if you are giving a speech on the Iraq War that began in 2003, you could refer back to the Vietnam War as way of making a comparison:

During the 1960s and ’70s, the United States intervened in the civil strife between North and South Vietnam. The result was a long-running war of attrition in which many American lives were lost and the country of Vietnam suffered tremendous damage and destruction. Today, we see a similar war being waged in Iraq. American lives are being lost, and stability has not yet returned to the region.

In this example, the speaker is evoking the audience’s memories of the Vietnam War to raise awareness of similarities to the war in Iraq.

Anecdote

Another device you can use to start a speech is to tell an anecdote related to the speech’s topic. Ananecdoteis a brief account or story of an interesting or humorous event. Notice the emphasis here is on the word “brief.” A common mistake speakers make when telling an anecdote is to make the anecdote too long. Remember, your entire introduction should only be 10 to 15 percent of your speech, so your attention-getter must be very short.

One type of anecdote is a real story that emphasizes a speech’s basic message. For example, here is an anecdote a speaker could use to begin a speech on how disconnected people are from the real world because of technology:

In July 2009, a high school girl named Alexa Longueira was walking along a main boulevard near her home on Staten Island, New York, typing in a message on her cell phone. Not paying attention to the world around her, she took a step and fell right into an open manhole (Whitney, 2009).

A second type of anecdote is a parable or fable. Aparable or fableis an allegorical anecdote designed to teach general life lessons. The most widely known parables for most Americans are those given in the Bible and the best-known fables are Aesop’s Fables (http://www.aesopfables.com). For the same speech on how disconnected people are with the real world because of technology, the speaker could have used the Fable of The Boy and the Filberts:

The ancient Greek writer Aesop told a fable about a boy who put his hand into a pitcher of filberts. The boy grabbed as many of the delicious nuts as he possibly could. But when he tried to pull them out, his hand wouldn’t fit through the neck of the pitcher because he was grasping so many filberts. Instead of dropping some of them so that his hand would fit, he burst into tears and cried about his predicament. The moral of the story? “Don’t try to do too much at once” (Aesop, 1881).

After recounting this anecdote, the speaker could easily relate the fable to the notion that the technology in our society leads us to try to do too many things at once.

While parables and fables are short and entertaining, their application to your speech topic should be clear. We’ll talk about this idea in more detail later in this chapter when we discuss how to link your attention-getter explicitly to your topic.

Startling Statement

The eighth device you can use to start a speech is to surprise your audience with startling information about your topic. Often, startling statements come in the form of statistics and strange facts. The goal of a good startling statistic is that it surprises the audience and gets them engaged in your topic. For example, if you’re giving a speech about oil conservation, you could start by saying, “A Boeing 747 airliner holds 57,285 gallons of fuel.” You could start a speech on the psychology of dreams by noting, “The average person has over 1,460 dreams a year.” A strange fact, on the other hand, is a statement that does not involve numbers but is equally surprising to most audiences. For example, you could start a speech on the gambling industry by saying, “There are no clocks in any casinos in Las Vegas.” You could start a speech on the Harlem Globetrotters by saying, “In 2000, Pope John Paul II became the most famous honorary member of the Harlem Globetrotters.” All four of these examples came from a great website for strange facts (http://www.strangefacts.com).

Although startling statements are fun, it is important to use them ethically. First, make sure that your startling statement is factual. The Internet is full of startling statements and claims that are simply not factual, so when you find a statement you’d like to use, you have an ethical duty to ascertain its truth before you use it. Second, make sure that your startling statement is relevant to your speech and not just thrown in for shock value. We’ve all heard startling claims made in the media that are clearly made for purposes of shock or fear mongering. As speakers, we have an ethical obligation to avoid playing on people’s emotions in this way.

Question

Another strategy for getting your audience’s attention is to ask them a question. There are two types of questions commonly used as attention-getters: response questions and rhetorical questions. A response question is a question that the audience is expected to answer in some manner. For example, you could ask your audience, “Please raise your hand if you have ever thought about backpacking in Europe” or “Have you ever voted for the Electoral College? If so, stand up.” In both of these cases, the speaker wants her or his audience to respond. It is best to ask for a raise of hands, as opposed to a verbal response, as this allows the speaker to maintain control of the speaking situation. A rhetorical question, on the other hand, is a question to which no actual reply is expected. For example, a speaker talking about the importance of HIV testing could start by asking the audience, “I have two questions that I’d like you to think about. How many students on this campus have had sexual intercourse? Of those who have had sex, how many have been tested for HIV?” In this case, the speaker does not expect the audience to give an estimate of the numbers of students that fit into each category but rather to think about the questions as the speech goes on.

 Psychological Orientation: Providing Reasons to Listen

Another function of an introduction is to establish a connection between the speaker and the audience, and one of the most effective means of establishing a connection with your audience is to provide them with reasons why they should listen to your speech. The idea of establishing a connection is an extension of the notion of caring/goodwill. In the chapters on Language and Speech Delivery, we’ll spend a lot more time talking about how you can establish a good relationship with your audience. However, this relationship starts the moment you step to the front of the room to start speaking.

Instead of assuming the audience will make their own connections to your material, you should explicitly state how your information might be useful to your audience. Tell them directly how they might use your information themselves. It is not enough for you alone to be interested in your topic. You need to build a bridge to the audience by explicitly connecting your topic to their possible needs.

Psychological Orientation: Establishing Credibility

One of the most researched areas within the field of communication has been Aristotle’s concept of ethos or credibility. First, and foremost, the concept of credibility must be understood as a perception of receivers. You may be the most competent, caring, and trustworthy speaker in the world on a given topic, but if your audience does not perceive you as credible, then your expertise and passion will not matter. As public speakers, we need to make sure that we explain to our audiences why we are credible speakers on a given topic.

James C. McCroskey and Jason J. Teven have conducted extensive research on credibility and have determined that an individual’s credibility is composed of three factors: competence, trustworthiness, and caring/goodwill (McCroskey & Teven, 1999). Competence is the degree to which a speaker is perceived to be knowledgeable or expert in a given subject by an audience member. Some individuals are given expert status because of positions they hold in society. For example, Dr. Regina Benjamin, the US Surgeon General, is expected to be competent in matters related to health and wellness as a result of being the United States’ top physician.

Regina Benjamin
Source: Photo by Lawrence Jackson, White House photographer.

The second factor of credibility noted by McCroskey and Teven is trustworthiness, or the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as honest. Nothing will turn an audience against a speaker faster than if the audience believes the speaker is lying. When an audience does not perceive a speaker as trustworthy, the information coming out of the speaker’s mouth is automatically perceived as deceitful. The speaker could be 100 percent honest, but the audience will still find the information suspect. For example, in the summer of 2009, many Democratic members of Congress attempted to hold public town-hall meetings about health care. For a range of reasons, many of the people who attended these town-hall meetings refused to let their elected officials actually speak because the audiences were convinced that the Congressmen and Congresswomen were lying.

In these situations, where a speaker is in front of a very hostile audience, there is little a speaker can do to reestablish that sense of trustworthiness. These public town-hall meetings became screaming matches between the riled-up audiences and the congressional representatives. Some police departments actually ended up having to escort the representatives from the buildings because they feared for their safety. Check out this video from CNN.com to see what some of these events actually looked like: http://www.cnn.com/video/#/video/bestoftv/2009/08/07/ldt.sylvester.town.hall.cnn?iref=videosearch. We hope that you will not be in physical danger when you speak to your classmates or in other settings, but these incidents serve to underscore how important speaker trustworthiness is across speaking contexts.

Caring/goodwill is the final factor of credibility noted by McCroskey and Teven. Caring/goodwill refers to the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as caring about the audience member. As noted by Wrench, McCroskey, and Richmond, “If a receiver does not believe that a source has the best intentions in mind for the receiver, the receiver will not see the source as credible. Simply put, we are going to listen to people who we think truly care for us and are looking out for our welfare” (Wrench, McCroskey & Richmond, 2008). As a speaker, then, you need to establish that your information is being presented because you care about your audience and are not just trying to manipulate them. We should note that research has indicated that caring/goodwill is the most important factor of credibility. This means that if an audience believes that a speaker truly cares about the audience’s best interests, the audience may overlook some competence and trust issues.

Logical Orientation: Preview Main Ideas

The last major function of an introduction is to preview the main ideas that your speech will discuss. A preview establishes the direction your speech will take. We sometimes call this process signposting because you’re establishing signs for audience members to look for while you’re speaking. In the most basic speech format, speakers generally have three to five major points they plan on making. During the preview, a speaker outlines what these points will be, which demonstrates to the audience that the speaker is organized.

A study by Baker found that individuals who were unorganized while speaking were perceived as less credible than those individuals who were organized (Baker, 1965). Having a solid preview of the information contained within one’s speech and then following that preview will definitely help a speaker’s credibility. It also helps your audience keep track of where you are if they momentarily daydream or get distracted.

Creating a Conclusion

A man waving a checkered flag
Paul Baker – Checkered flag – CC BY-SA 2.0.

As public speaking professors and authors, we have seen many students give otherwise good speeches that seem to fall apart at the end. We’ve seen students end their three main points by saying things such as “OK, I’m done”; “Thank God that’s over!”; or “Thanks. Now what? Do I just sit down?” It’s understandable to feel relief at the end of a speech, but remember that as a speaker, your conclusion is the last chance you have to drive home your ideas. When a speaker opts to end the speech with an ineffective conclusion—or no conclusion at all—the speech loses the energy that’s been created, and the audience is left confused and disappointed. Instead of falling prey to emotional exhaustion, remind yourself to keep your energy up as you approach the end of your speech, and plan ahead so that your conclusion will be an effective one.

Of course, a good conclusion will not rescue a poorly prepared speech. Thinking again of the chapters in a novel, if one bypasses all the content in the middle, the ending often isn’t very meaningful or helpful. So to take advantage of the advice in this section, you need to keep in mind the importance of developing a speech with an effective introduction and an effective body; if you have these elements, you will have the foundation you need to be able to conclude effectively. Just as a good introduction helps bring an audience member into the world of your speech, and a good speech body holds the audience in that world, a good conclusion helps bring that audience member back to the reality outside of your speech.

In this section, we’re going to examine the functions fulfilled by the conclusion of a speech. A strong conclusion serves to signal the end of the speech, help your listeners remember your speech, and remind them how the topic relates to them.

Logical Closure: Signaling the End & Summarizing

The first thing a good conclusion can do is to signal the end of a speech. You may be thinking that showing an audience that you’re about to stop speaking is a “no brainer,” but many speakers really don’t prepare their audience for the end. When a speaker just suddenly stops speaking, the audience is left confused and disappointed. Instead, we want to make sure that audiences are left knowledgeable and satisfied with our speeches.

The second reason for a good conclusion stems out of some very interesting research reported by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus back in 1885 in his bookMemory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology(Ebbinghaus, 1885). Ebbinghaus proposed that humans remember information in a linear fashion, which he called theserial position effect. He found an individual’s ability to remember information in a list (e.g., a grocery list, a chores list, or a to-do list) depends on the location of an item on the list. Specifically, he found that items toward the top of the list and items toward the bottom of the list tended to have the highest recall rates. The serial position effect basically finds that information at the beginning of a list (primacy) and information at the end of the list (recency) are easier to recall than information in the middle of the list.

So what does this have to do with conclusions? A lot! Ray Ehrensberger wanted to test Ebbinghaus’ serial position effect in public speaking. Ehrensberger created an experiment that rearranged the ordering of a speech to determine the recall of information (Ehrensberger, 1945). Ehrensberger’s study reaffirmed the importance of primacy and recency when listening to speeches. In fact, Ehrensberger found that the information delivered during the conclusion (recency) had the highest level of recall overall.

Thus, when we preview our main points in the introduction, effectively discuss and make transitions to our main points during the body of the speech, and finally, review the main points in the conclusion, we increase the likelihood that the audience will retain our main points after the speech is over.

Psychological Closure: Connection to their lives

The last thing a good conclusion does is attempts to answer the basic audience question, “What’s in it for me?” The goal is to identify the direct benefits your speech has for audience members. For example, a speaker talking about stress reduction techniques could conclude by clearly listing all the physical health benefits stress reduction offers (e.g., improved reflexes, improved immune system, improved hearing, reduction in blood pressure). In this case, the speaker is clearly spelling out why audience members should care—what’s in it for them! The following are a few strategies to uses as you end your speech and reaffirm the connection to our audience’s lives.

Conclude with a Challenge

Achallengeis a call to engage in some kind of activity that requires a contest or special effort. In a speech on the necessity of fund-raising, a speaker could conclude by challenging the audience to raise 10 percent more than their original projections. In a speech on eating more vegetables, you could challenge your audience to increase their current intake of vegetables by two portions daily. In both of these challenges, audience members are being asked to go out of their way to do something different that involves effort on their part.

Conclude by Visualizing the Future

The purpose of a conclusion that refers to the future is to help your audience imagine the future you believe can occur. If you are giving a speech on the development of video games for learning, you could conclude by depicting the classroom of the future where video games are perceived as true learning tools and how those tools could be utilized. More often, speakers use visualization of the future to depict how society would be, or how individual listeners’ lives would be different, if the speaker’s persuasive attempt worked. For example, if a speaker proposes that a solution to illiteracy is hiring more reading specialists in public schools, the speaker could ask her or his audience to imagine a world without illiteracy. In this use of visualization, the goal is to persuade people to adopt the speaker’s point of view. By showing that the speaker’s vision of the future is a positive one, the conclusion should help to persuade the audience to help create this future.

Conclude by Inspiration

By definition, the wordinspiremeans to affect or arouse someone. Both affect and arouse have strong emotional connotations. The ultimate goal of an inspiration concluding device is similar to an “appeal for action” but the ultimate goal is more lofty or ambiguous; the goal is to stir someone’s emotions in a specific manner. Maybe a speaker is giving an informative speech on the prevalence of domestic violence in our society today. That speaker could end the speech by reading Paulette Kelly’s powerful poem “I Got Flowers Today.” “I Got Flowers Today” is a poem that evokes strong emotions because it’s about an abuse victim who received flowers from her abuser every time she was victimized. The poem ends by saying, “I got flowers today… / Today was a special day—it was the day of my funeral / Last night he killed me” (Kelly, 1994).

Outlining

Think of your outline as a living document that grows and takes form throughout your speech-making process. When you first draft your general purpose, specific purpose, and thesis statement, you could create a new document on your computer and plug those in, essentially starting your outline. As you review your research and distill the information down into separate central ideas that support your specific purpose and thesis, type those statements into the document. Once you’ve chosen your organizational pattern and are ready to incorporate supporting material, you can quote and paraphrase your supporting material along with the bibliographic information needed for your verbal citations into the document. By this point, you have a good working outline, and you can easily cut and paste information to move it around and see how it fits into the main points, subpoints, and sub-subpoints. As your outline continues to take shape, you will want to follow established principles of outlining to ensure a quality speech.

The Formal Outline

image
Outlining provides a scaffolding, or structure, that will help ensure your speech is logical, coherent, and organized. Wikimedia Commons – CC BY 2.0.

The formal outline is a full-sentence outline that helps you prepare for your speech. It includes the introduction and conclusion, the main content of the body, key supporting materials, citation information written into the sentences in the outline, and a references page for your speech. The formal outline also includes a title, the general purpose, specific purpose, and thesis statement. It’s important to note that an outline is different from a script. While a script contains everything that will be said, an outline includes the main content. Therefore you shouldn’t include every word you’re going to say on your outline. This allows you more freedom as a speaker to adapt to your audience during your speech. Students sometimes complain about having to outline speeches or papers, but it is a skill that will help you in other contexts. Being able to break a topic down into logical divisions and then connect the information together will help ensure that you can prepare for complicated tasks or that you’re prepared for meetings or interviews. I use outlines regularly to help me organize my thoughts and prepare for upcoming projects.

Principles of Outlining

There are principles of outlining you can follow to make your outlining process more efficient and effective. Four principles of outlining are consistency, unity, coherence, and emphasis (DuBois, 1929). In terms of consistency, you should follow standard outlining format. In standard outlining format, main points are indicated by capital roman numerals, subpoints are indicated by capital letters, and sub-subpoints are indicated by Arabic numerals. Further divisions are indicated by either lowercase letters or lowercase roman numerals.

The principle of unity means that each letter or number represents one idea. One concrete way to help reduce the amount of ideas you include per item is to limit each letter or number to one complete sentence. If you find that one subpoint has more than one idea, you can divide it into two subpoints. Limiting each component of your outline to one idea makes it easier to then plug in supporting material and helps ensure that your speech is coherent. In the following example from a speech arguing that downloading music from peer-to-peer sites should be legal, two ideas are presented as part of a main point.

  • Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs helps market new music and doesn’t hurt record sales.

The main point could be broken up into two distinct ideas that can be more fully supported.

  1. Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs helps market new music.
  2. Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs doesn’t hurt record sales.

Following the principle of unity should help your outline adhere to the principle of coherence, which states that there should be a logical and natural flow of ideas, with main points, subpoints, and sub-subpoints connecting to each other (Winans, 1917). Shorter phrases and keywords can make up the speaking outline, but you should write complete sentences throughout your formal outline to ensure coherence. The principle of coherence can also be met by making sure that when dividing a main point or subpoint, you include at least two subdivisions. After all, it defies logic that you could divide anything into just one part. Therefore if you have an A, you must have a B, and if you have a 1, you must have a 2. If you can easily think of one subpoint but are having difficulty identifying another one, that subpoint may not be robust enough to stand on its own. Determining which ideas are coordinate with each other and which are subordinate to each other will help divide supporting information into the outline (Winans, 1917). Coordinate points are on the same level of importance in relation to the thesis of the speech or the central idea of a main point. In the following example, the two main points (I, II) are coordinate with each other. The two subpoints (A, B) are also coordinate with each other. Subordinate points provide evidence or support for a main idea or thesis. In the following example, subpoint A and subpoint B are subordinate to main point II. You can look for specific words to help you determine any errors in distinguishing coordinate and subordinate points. Your points/subpoints are likely coordinate when you would connect the two statements using any of the following: andbutyetor, or also. In the example, the word also appears in B, which connects it, as a coordinate point, to A. The points/subpoints are likely subordinate if you would connect them using the following: sincebecausein order thatto explain, or to illustrate. In the example, 1 and 2 are subordinate to A because they support that sentence.

  1. Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs helps market new music.
  2. Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs doesn’t hurt record sales.
    1. John Borland, writing for CNET.com in 2004, cited research conducted by professors from Harvard and the University of North Carolina that observed 1.75 million downloads from two file-sharing programs.
      1. They conclude that the rapid increase in music downloading over the past few years does not significantly contribute to declining record sales.
      2. Their research even suggests that the practice of downloading music may even have a “slight positive effect on the sales of the top albums.”
    2. A 2010 Government Accountability Office Report also states that sampling “pirated” goods could lead consumers to buy the “legitimate” goods.

The principle of emphasis states that the material included in your outline should be engaging and balanced. As you place supporting material into your outline, choose the information that will have the most impact on your audience. Choose information that is proxemic and relevant, meaning that it can be easily related to the audience’s lives because it matches their interests or ties into current events or the local area. Remember primacy and recency discussed earlier and place the most engaging information first or last in a main point depending on what kind of effect you want to have. Also make sure your information is balanced. The outline serves as a useful visual representation of the proportions of your speech. You can tell by the amount of space a main point, subpoint, or sub-subpoint takes up in relation to other points of the same level whether or not your speech is balanced. If one subpoint is a half a page, but a main point is only a quarter of a page, then you may want to consider making the subpoint a main point. Each part of your speech doesn’t have to be equal. The first or last point may be more substantial than a middle point if you are following primacy or recency, but overall the speech should be relatively balanced.

Sample Formal Outline

The following outline shows the beginning of a full sentence outline using the standards for formatting and content and can serve as an example as you construct your own outline. Check with your instructor to see if he or she has specific requirements for speech outlines that may differ from what is shown here.

Introduction

Attention getter: GOOOOOOOOOOOOAL! GOAL! GOAL! GOOOOOOAL!

Credibility and psychological orientation:  If you’ve ever heard this excited yell coming from your television, then you probably already know that my speech today is about soccer. Like many of you, I played soccer on and off as a kid, but I was never really exposed to the culture of the sport. It wasn’t until recently, when I started to watch some of the World Cup games with international students in my dorm, that I realized what I’d been missing out on. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but I bet that, like most US Americans, it only comes on your radar every few years during the World Cup or the Olympics. If, however, you lived anywhere else in the world, soccer (or football, as it is more often called) would likely be a much larger part of your life.

Logical orientation/Preview: In order to persuade you that soccer should be more popular in the United States, I’ll explain why soccer isn’t as popular in the United States and describe some of the actions we should take to change our beliefs and attitudes about the game.

Transition: Let us begin with the problem of soccer’s unpopularity in America.

Body

  1. Although soccer has a long history as a sport, it hasn’t taken hold in the United States to the extent that it has in other countries.
    1. Soccer has been around in one form or another for thousands of years.
      1. The president of FIFA, which is the international governing body for soccer, was quoted in David Goldblatt’s 2008 book, The Ball is Round, as saying, “Football is as old as the world…People have always played some form of football, from its very basic form of kicking a ball around to the game it is today.”
      2. Basil Kane, author of the book Soccer for American Spectators, reiterates this fact when he states, “Nearly every society at one time or another claimed its own form of kicking game.”
    2. Despite this history, the United States hasn’t caught “soccer fever” for several different reasons.
      1. Sports fans in the United States already have lots of options when it comes to playing and watching sports.
        1. Our own “national sports” such as football, basketball, and baseball take up much of our time and attention, which may prevent people from engaging in an additional sport.
        2. Statistics unmistakably show that soccer viewership is low as indicated by the much-respected Pew Research group, which reported in 2006 that only 4 percent of adult US Americans they surveyed said that soccer was their favorite sport to watch.
      2. The attitudes and expectations of sports fans in the United States also prevent soccer’s expansion into the national sports consciousness.
        1. One reason Americans don’t enjoy soccer as much as other sports is due to our shortened attention span, which has been created by the increasingly fast pace of our more revered sports like football and basketball.
        2. Our lack of attention span isn’t the only obstacle that limits our appreciation for soccer; we are also set in our expectations.
    3. Transition: Although soccer has many problems that it would need to overcome to be more popular in the United States, I think there are actions we can take now to change our beliefs and attitudes about soccer in order to give it a better chance.

  1. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, and there have to be some good reasons that account for this status.
    1. As US Americans, we can start to enjoy soccer more if we better understand why the rest of the world loves it so much.
      1. As was mentioned earlier, Chad Nielsen of ESPN.com notes that American sports fans can’t have the same stats obsession with soccer that they do with baseball or football, but fans all over the world obsess about their favorite teams and players.
        1. Fans argue every day, in bars and cafés from Baghdad to Bogotá, about statistics for goals and assists, but as Nielsen points out, with the game of soccer, such stats still fail to account for varieties of style and competition.
        2. So even though the statistics may be different, bonding over or arguing about a favorite team or player creates communities of fans that are just as involved and invested as even the most loyal team fans in the United States.
      2. Additionally, Americans can start to realize that some of the things we might initially find off putting about the sport of soccer are actually some of its strengths.
        1. The fact that soccer statistics aren’t poured over and used to make predictions makes the game more interesting.
        2. The fact that the segments of play in soccer are longer and the scoring lower allows for the game to have a longer arc, meaning that anticipation can build and that a game might be won or lost by only one goal after a long and even-matched game.
    2. We can also begin to enjoy soccer more if we view it as an additional form of entertainment.
      1. As Americans who like to be entertained, we can seek out soccer games in many different places.
        1. There is most likely a minor or even a major league soccer stadium team within driving distance of where you live.
        2. You can also go to soccer games at your local high school, college, or university.
      2. We can also join the rest of the world in following some of the major soccer celebrities—David Beckham is just the tip of the iceberg.
    3. Getting involved in soccer can also help make our society more fit and healthy.
      1. Soccer can easily be the most athletic sport available to Americans.
      2. In just one game, the popular soccer player Gennaro Gattuso was calculated to have run about 6.2 miles, says Carl Bialik, a numbers expert who writes for The Wall Street Journal.
      3. With the growing trend of obesity in America, getting involved in soccer promotes more running and athletic ability than baseball, for instance, could ever provide.
        1. A press release on FIFA’s official website notes that one hour of soccer three times a week has been shown in research to provide significant physical benefits.
        2. If that’s not convincing enough, the website ScienceDaily.com reports that the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports published a whole special issue titled Football for Health that contained fourteen articles supporting the health benefits of soccer.
    4. Last, soccer has been praised for its ability to transcend language, culture, class, and country.
      1. The nongovernmental organization Soccer for Peace seeks to use the worldwide popularity of soccer as a peacemaking strategy to bridge the divides of race, religion, and socioeconomic class.
      2. According to their official website, the organization just celebrated its ten-year anniversary in 2012.
        1. Over those ten years the organization has focused on using soccer to bring together people of different religious faiths, particularly people who are Jewish and Muslim.
        2. In 2012, three first-year college students, one Christian, one Jew, and one Muslim, dribbled soccer balls for 450 miles across the state of North Carolina to help raise money for Soccer for Peace.
    5. A press release on the World Association of Nongovernmental Organizations’s official website states that from the dusty refugee camps of Lebanon to the upscale new neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, “soccer turns heads, stops conversations, causes breath to catch, and stirs hearts like virtually no other activity.”

Conclusion

Transition to conclusion and summary of importance: In conclusion, soccer is a sport that has a long history, can help you get healthy, and can bring people together.

Logical & Psychological closure: Now that you know some of the obstacles that prevent soccer from becoming more popular in the United States and several actions we can take to change our beliefs and attitudes about soccer, I hope you agree with me that it’s time for the United States to join the rest of the world in welcoming soccer into our society.

Closing statement: The article from BleacherReport.com that I cited earlier closes with the following words that I would like you to take as you leave here today: “We need to learn that just because there is no scoring chance that doesn’t mean it is boring. We need to see that soccer is not for a select few, but for all. We only need two feet and a ball. We need to stand up and appreciate the beautiful game.”

The Key Word (Alpha Numeric) Outline

The formal outline is a full-sentence outline that helps as you prepare for your speech, and thekey word/alpha numeric outlineis a keyword outline that helps you deliver your speech. While the formal outline is important to ensure that your content is coherent and your ideas are balanced and expressed clearly, the key word outline helps you get that information out to the audience. Make sure you budget time in your speech preparation to work on the speaking outline. Skimping on the key word outline will show in your delivery. Below is a sample portion of a key word outline based off the main point from the soccer full sentence outline above:

I. Soccer new to United States

A. Globally around for thousands of years

    1. FIFA Present states “….”
    2. Basil Kane states “…”

B. Reasons not popular in USA

    1. Lots of other sport options
    2. Short attention span

 

9.4.1N

Using note cards for your speaking outline will help you be able to move around and gesture more freely than using full sheets of paper.

You may convert your formal outline into a speaking outline on paper or note cards. Note cards are a good option when you want to have more freedom to gesture or know you won’t have a lectern on which to place notes printed on full sheets of paper. In either case, this entails converting the full-sentence outline to a keyword or key-phrase outline. Speakers will need to find a balance between having too much or too little content on their speaking outlines. You want to have enough information to prevent fluency hiccups as you stop to mentally retrieve information, but you don’t want to have so much information that you read your speech, which lessens your eye contact and engagement with the audience. Budgeting sufficient time to work on your speaking outline will allow you to practice your speech with different amounts of notes to find what works best for you. Since the introduction and conclusion are so important, it may be useful to include notes to ensure that you remember to accomplish all the objectives of each.

Aside from including important content on your speaking outline, you may want to include speaking cues. Speaking cues are reminders designed to help your delivery. You may write “(PAUSE)” before and after your preview statement to help you remember that important nonverbal signpost. You might also write “(MAKE EYE CONTACT)” as a reminder not to read unnecessarily from your cards. Overall, my advice is to make your speaking outline work for you. It’s your last line of defense when you’re in front of an audience, so you want it to help you, not hurt you.

Tips for Note Cards

  1. The 4 × 6 inch index cards provide more space and are easier to hold and move than 3.5 × 5 inch cards.
  2. Find a balance between having so much information on your cards that you are tempted to read from them and so little information that you have fluency hiccups and verbal fillers while trying to remember what to say.
  3. Use bullet points on the left-hand side rather than writing in paragraph form, so your eye can easily catch where you need to pick back up after you’ve made eye contact with the audience. Skipping a line between bullet points may also help.
  4. Include all parts of the introduction/conclusion and signposts for backup.
  5. Include key supporting material and wording for verbal citations.
  6. Only write on the front of your cards.
  7. Do not have a sentence that carries over from one card to the next (can lead to fluency hiccups).
  8. If you have difficult-to-read handwriting, you may type your speech and tape or glue it to your cards. Use a font that’s large enough for you to see and be neat with the glue or tape so your cards don’t get stuck together.
  9. Include cues that will help with your delivery. Highlight transitions, verbal citations, or other important information. Include reminders to pause, slow down, breathe, or make eye contact.
  10. Your cards should be an extension of your body, not something to play with. Don’t wiggle, wring, flip through, or slap your note cards.
  11. Number your note cards; if they fall you want to be able to quickly reorganize them.

Citing Sources

Citing is important because it enables others to see where you found information cited within a speech, article, or book. Furthermore, not citing information properly is considered plagiarism, so ethically we want to make sure that we give credit to the authors we use in a speech. While there are numerous citation styles to choose from, the two most common style choices for public speaking are APA and MLA.

APA versus MLA Source Citations

Stylerefers to those components or features of a literary composition or oral presentation that have to do with the form of expression rather than the content expressed (e.g., language, punctuation, parenthetical citations, and endnotes). The APA and the MLA have created the two most commonly used style guides in academia today. Generally speaking, scholars in the various social science fields (e.g., psychology, human communication, business) are more likely to useAPA style, and scholars in the various humanities fields (e.g., English, philosophy, rhetoric) are more likely to useMLA style. The two styles are quite different from each other, so learning them does take time. For the purposes of this class, we will use APA style.

As of October 2019, the American Psychological Association published the seventh edition of thePublication Manual of the American Psychological Association(http://www.apastyle.org). The seventh edition provides considerable guidance on working with and citing Internet sources.

APA citation basics[3]

When using APA format, follow the author-date method of in-text citation. This means that the author’s last name and the year of publication for the source should appear in the text, like, for example, (Jones, 1998). One complete reference for each source should appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

If you are referring to an idea from another work but NOT directly quoting the material, or making reference to an entire book, article or other work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication and not the page number in your in-text reference.

On the other hand, if you are directly quoting or borrowing from another work, you should include the page number at the end of the parenthetical citation. Use the abbreviation “p.” (for one page) or “pp.” (for multiple pages) before listing the page number(s). Use an en dash for page ranges. For example, you might write (Jones, 1998, p. 199) or (Jones, 1998, pp. 199–201). This information is reiterated below.

Regardless of how they are referenced, all sources that are cited in the text must appear in the reference list at the end of the paper.

In-text citation capitalization, quotes, and italics/underlining

  • Always capitalize proper nouns, including author names and initials: D. Jones.
  • If you refer to the title of a source within your paper, capitalize all words that are four letters long or greater within the title of a source: Permanence and Change. Exceptions apply to short words that are verbs, nouns, pronouns, adjectives, and adverbs: Writing New MediaThere Is Nothing Left to Lose.

(Note: in your References list, only the first word of a title will be capitalized: Writing new media.)

  • When capitalizing titles, capitalize both words in a hyphenated compound word: Natural-Born Cyborgs.
  • Capitalize the first word after a dash or colon: “Defining Film Rhetoric: The Case of Hitchcock’s Vertigo.”
  • If the title of the work is italicized in your reference list, italicize it and use title case capitalization in the text: The Closing of the American MindThe Wizard of OzFriends.
  • If the title of the work is not italicized in your reference list, use double quotation marks and title case capitalization (even though the reference list uses sentence case): “Multimedia Narration: Constructing Possible Worlds;” “The One Where Chandler Can’t Cry.”

Short quotations

If you are directly quoting from a work, you will need to include the author, year of publication, and page number for the reference (preceded by “p.” for a single page and “pp.” for a span of multiple pages, with the page numbers separated by an en dash).

You can introduce the quotation with a signal phrase that includes the author’s last name followed by the date of publication in parentheses.

According to Jones (1998), “students often had difficulty using APA style, especially when it was their first time” (p. 199).
Jones (1998) found “students often had difficulty using APA style” (p. 199); what implications does this have for teachers?

If you do not include the author’s name in the text of the sentence, place the author’s last name, the year of publication, and the page number in parentheses after the quotation.

She stated, “Students often had difficulty using APA style” (Jones, 1998, p. 199), but she did not offer an explanation as to why.

Long quotations

Place direct quotations that are 40 words or longer in a free-standing block of typewritten lines and omit quotation marks. Start the quotation on a new line, indented 1/2 inch from the left margin, i.e., in the same place you would begin a new paragraph. Type the entire quotation on the new margin, and indent the first line of any subsequent paragraph within the quotation 1/2 inch from the new margin. Maintain double-spacing throughout, but do not add an extra blank line before or after it. The parenthetical citation should come after the closing punctuation mark.

Because block quotation formatting is difficult for us to replicate in the OWL’s content management system, we have simply provided a screenshot of a generic example below.

This image shows how to format a long quotation in an APA seventh edition paper.

Formatting example for block quotations in APA 7 style.

Quotations from sources without pages

Direct quotations from sources that do not contain pages should not reference a page number. Instead, you may reference another logical identifying element: a paragraph, a chapter number, a section number, a table number, or something else. Older works (like religious texts) can also incorporate special location identifiers like verse numbers. In short: pick a substitute for page numbers that makes sense for your source.

Jones (1998) found a variety of causes for student dissatisfaction with prevailing citation practices (paras. 4–5).
A meta-analysis of available literature (Jones, 1998) revealed inconsistency across large-scale studies of student learning (Table 3).

Summary or paraphrase

If you are paraphrasing an idea from another work, you only have to make reference to the author and year of publication in your in-text reference and may omit the page numbers. APA guidelines, however, do encourage including a page range for a summary or paraphrase when it will help the reader find the information in a longer work.

According to Jones (1998), APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners.
APA style is a difficult citation format for first-time learners (Jones, 1998, p. 199).

Formatting a Reference List

Your reference list should appear at the end of your paper. It provides the information necessary for a reader to locate and retrieve any source you cite in the body of the paper. Each source you cite in the paper must appear in your reference list; likewise, each entry in the reference list must be cited in your text.

Your references should begin on a new page separate from the text of the essay; label this page “References” in bold, centered at the top of the page (do NOT underline or use quotation marks for the title). All text should be double-spaced just like the rest of your essay.

Basic Rules for Most Sources

  • All lines after the first line of each entry in your reference list should be indented one-half inch from the left margin. This is called hanging indentation.
  • All authors’ names should be inverted (i.e., last names should be provided first).
  • Authors’ first and middle names should be written as initials.
    • For example, the reference entry for a source written by Jane Marie Smith would begin with “Smith, J. M.”
    • If a middle name isn’t available, just initialize the author’s first name: “Smith, J.”
  • Give the last name and first/middle initials for all authors of a particular work up to and including 20 authors (this is a new rule, as APA 6 only required the first six authors). Separate each author’s initials from the next author in the list with a comma. Use an ampersand (&) before the last author’s name. If there are 21 or more authors, use an ellipsis (but no ampersand) after the 19th author, and then add the final author’s name.
  • Reference list entries should be alphabetized by the last name of the first author of each work.
  • For multiple articles by the same author, or authors listed in the same order, list the entries in chronological order, from earliest to most recent.
  • When referring to the titles of books, chapters, articles, reports, webpages, or other sources, capitalize only the first letter of the first word of the title and subtitle, the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and proper nouns.
    • Note again that the titles of academic journals are subject to special rules. See section below.
  • Italicize titles of longer works (e.g., books, edited collections, names of newspapers, and so on).
  • Do not italicize, underline, or put quotes around the titles of shorter works such as chapters in books or essays in edited collections.

Basic Rules for Articles in Academic Journals

  • Present journal titles in full.
  • Italicize journal titles.
  • Maintain any nonstandard punctuation and capitalization that is used by the journal in its title.
    • For example, you should use PhiloSOPHIA instead of Philosophia, or Past & Present instead of Past and Present.
  • Capitalize all major words in the titles of journals. Note that this differs from the rule for titling other common sources (like books, reports, webpages, and so on) described above.
    • This distinction is based on the type of source being cited. Academic journal titles have all major words capitalized, while other sources’ titles do not.
  • Capitalize the first word of the titles and subtitles of journal articles, as well as the first word after a colon or a dash in the title, and any proper nouns.
  • Do not italicize or underline the article title.
  • Do not enclose the article title in quotes.
    • So, for example, if you need to cite an article titled “Deep Blue: The Mysteries of the Marianas Trench” that was published in the journal Oceanographic Study: A Peer-Reviewed Publication, you would write the article title as follows:
      • Deep blue: The mysteries of the Marianas Trench.
    • …but you would write the journal title as follows:
      • Oceanographic Study: A Peer-Reviewed Publication

Table 7.4 “APA Sixth Edition Citations”provides a list of common citation examples that you may need for your speech.

Table 7.4
Research Article in a Journal—One Author Harmon, M. D. (2006). Affluenza: A world values test.The International Communication Gazette, 68, 119–130. doi: 10.1177/1748048506062228
Research Article in a Journal—Two to Five Authors Hoffner, C., & Levine, K. J. (2005). Enjoyment of mediated fright and violence: A meta-analysis.Media Psychology, 7, 207–237. doi: 10.1207/S1532785XMEP0702_5
Book Eysenck, H. J. (1982).Personality, genetics, and behavior: Selected papers.New York, NY: Praeger Publishers.
Book with 6 or More Authors Huston, A. C., Donnerstein, E., Fairchild, H., Feshbach, N. D., Katz, P. A., Murray, J. P.,…Zuckerman, D. (1992).Big world, small screen: The role of television in American society. Lincoln, NE: University of Nebraska Press.
Chapter in an Edited Book Tamobrini, R. (1991). Responding to horror: Determinants of exposure and appeal. In J. Bryant & D. Zillman (Eds.),Responding to the screen: Reception and reaction processes(pp. 305–329). Hillsdale, NJ: Lawrence Erlbaum.
Newspaper Article Thomason, D. (2010, March 31). Dry weather leads to burn ban.The Sentinel Record, p. A1.
Magazine Article Finney, J. (2010, March–April). The new “new deal”: How to communicate a changed employee value proposition to a skeptical audience—and realign employees within the organization.Communication World, 27(2), 27–30.
Preprint Version of an Article Laudel, G., & Gläser, J. (in press). Tensions between evaluations and communication practices.Journal of Higher Education Policy and Management.Retrieved fromhttp://www.laudel.info/pdf/Journal%20articles/06%20Tensions.pdf
Blog Wrench, J. S. (2009, June 3). AMA’s managerial competency model [Web log post]. Retrieved fromhttp://workplacelearning.info/blog/?p=182
Wikipedia Organizational Communication. (2009, July 11). [Wiki entry]. Retrieved fromhttp://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Organizational_communication
Vlog Wrench, J. S. (2009, May 15). Instructional communication [Video file]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.learningjournal.com/Learning-Journal-Videos/instructional-communication.htm
Discussion Board Wrench, J. S. (2009, May 21). NCA’s i-tunes project [Online forum comment]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.linkedin.com/groupAnswers?viewQuestionAndAnswers
E-mail List McAllister, M. (2009, June 19). New listserv: Critical approaches to ads/consumer culture & media studies [Electronic mailing list message]. Retrieved fromhttp://lists.psu.edu/cgi-bin/wa?A2=ind0906&L=CRTNET&T=0&F=&S=&P=20514
Podcast Wrench, J. S. (Producer). (2009, July 9).Workplace bullying[Audio podcast]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.communicast.info
Electronic-Only Book Richmond, V. P., Wrench, J. S., & Gorham, J. (2009).Communication, affect, and learning in the classroom(3rd ed.). Retrieved fromhttp://www.jasonswrench.com/affect
Electronic-Only Journal Article Molyneaux, H., O’Donnell, S., Gibson, K., & Singer, J. (2008). Exploring the gender divide on YouTube: An analysis of the creation and reception of vlogs.American Communication Journal, 10(1). Retrieved fromhttp://www.acjournal.org
Electronic Version of a Printed Book Wood, A. F., & Smith, M. J. (2004).Online communication: Linking technology, identity & culture(2nd ed.). Retrieved fromhttp://books.google.com/books
Online Magazine Levine, T. (2009, June). To catch a liar.Communication Currents, 4(3). Retrieved fromhttp://www.communicationcurrents.com
Online Newspaper Clifford, S. (2009, June 1). Online, “a reason to keep going.”The New York Times. Retrieved fromhttp://www.nytimes.com
Entry in an Online Reference Work Viswanth, K. (2008). Health communication. In W. Donsbach (Ed.),The international encyclopedia of communication. Retrieved fromhttp://www.communicationencyclopedia.com. doi: 10.1111/b.9781405131995.2008.x
Entry in an Online Reference Work, No Author Communication. (n.d.). InRandom House dictionary(9th ed.). Retrieved fromhttp://dictionary.reference.com/browse/communication
E-Reader Device Lutgen-Sandvik, P., & Davenport Sypher, B. (2009).Destructive organizational communication: Processes, consequences, & constructive ways of organizing. [Kindle version]. Retrieved fromhttp://www.amazon.com

  1. "10.4: Orgazing Your Speech". Introduction to Public Communication. Department of Communication, Indiana State University. Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  2. "9.1 The Importance of an Introduction". Stand up, Speak out: The Practice and Ethics of Public Speaking. University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing edition, 2016. Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License.
  3. https://owl.purdue.edu/owl/research_and_citation/apa_style/apa_formatting_and_style_guide/in_text_citations_the_basics.html

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Communication 101 Textbook (Dutton) by Tresha Dutton, Whatcom Community College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.