When Giving A Speech, It’s All About Structure

You've got to structure your speech for success
You’ve got to structure your speech for success
Image Credit: I am just Dawn Marie

Ok public speaker, what is the most important part of a speech? Is it what you do with your hands? Is it the amount of eye contact that you are able to achieve during a speech? Is it the clever dance moves that you’ve worked into the half-way point in your speech to show off the importance of public speaking? It turns out that the answer to all of these questions is no. The most important part of your next speech is its structure. How are you going to guide your audience from where you start, point A, to where you want them to get to, point Z?

The Problem With Most Speeches

When we are provided with an opportunity to give a speech, we often make a mistake when it comes to how we structure our speech. All too often we are either given a very short amount of time to deliver our speech or on the day that we’ll be giving it things have changed and we end up having a short amount of time for our speech. When this happens, we generally make poor structure decisions. What we end up doing is packing the maximum amount of information into the little amount of time that we have. Never a good idea.

The other situation that we tend to make a speech structure mistake in is when we are given a lot of time to deliver a speech. This might be a keynote or an after dinner speech. When we have this amount of time in which to speak, what we end up doing is delivering a dissertation on our topic to our audience. This is generally way more information than they can handle and what makes them happiest is when we’re done and sit down.

What we tend to overlook when we are preparing a speech is that our audience is going to end up remembering very little about what we tell them. For some odd reason, we seem to think that our words are so magical that our audience will have no problem remembering everything that we tell them, but it just isn’t so. At best we can count on them remembering one or two points. This means that we need present information that is both easy to understand and easy to remember.

A Formula To Structure Your Speech

So what’s the best way to structure your next speech? It’s actually quite simple. The first thing that you need to realize is that your speech needs to have one and only one point to it. You need to realize that the point is not the opening – this introduces the point. The point is not the conclusion – this summarizes the point. Your point is what your whole speech is going to be about and it’s what you want your audience to remember. Make sure that your point can be expressed in 40 characters or less – we’re living in the age of Twitter.

The middle of your speech should contain the information that will support your point. What you are going to want to state here are three themes. One of the best ways to determine what your themes should be are to ask yourself some questions that start with “how” and “why”. When you are providing facts to support your themes, make sure that they will “stick” with your audience. This is a great place to use both stories and anecdotes.

When you reach the end of your speech, you want to leave your audience with a call to action. There had to be a reason that you gave this speech. What is it that you want your audience to do once your speech is over? By providing your audience with a map of where you want them to go, they will be more than willing to follow you.

What All Of This Means For You

The most important part of the next speech that you will be giving will be the speech’s structure. Your goal in giving a speech is use the benefits of public speaking to lead your audience from the start to the finish and the structure of your speech shows how you are going to accomplish this. The problem is that all too often we do a poor job of structuring our speeches.

The mistakes that we tend to make center on short speeches where we try to cram everything into the speech or long speeches where we just end up speaking about nothing for a long time. A much better way to go about structuring a speech is to use the 1-3-1 technique. This means that we need to start off with one and only one point. In the middle we need to support our main point with three themes that can contain facts and statistics. Finally, we need to conclude our speech with one call to action.

A finely structured speech is a powerful tool. With this type of speech we can lead an audience from where they are to where we want them to be. The key is to structure our speech in a way that will allow this to happen. Take the time to structure your next speech correctly and watch your audience come along with you.

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: Do you think that you should include more than three themes in a speech if you have more time to talk?

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Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site www.Toastmasters.org. Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

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