Whether you’re new to Public Speaking, or more experienced, there’s something to be said for using a simple Speech Structure.
If you are new to speaking or don’t have too much experience, then you don’t want to be thinking about too many things as you speak, so, a simple Speech Structure is perfect. And if your speech isn’t too long then this same Speech Structure will work beautifully for you, irrespective of your level of experience.
The best part is, there are only 3 elements to remember and to plan – and it doesn’t get any simpler than that. Sometimes summarised as ‘Tell them what you’re going to tell them – tell them – then tell them what you’ve told them’, the 3 elements are;
- The Opening – Tell them what you’re going to tell them.
- The Body – Tell them.
- The Closing – Tell them what you’ve told them.
Let’s go through them, one at a time, and take a look at what you need to be thinking about for each element, bearing in mind that, in this post, I’m talking about a speech that’s no more than 7 to 10 minutes long.
A Simple Speech Structure – The Opening
It’s, probably, true that the first thirty seconds of your speech is going to be the most important part and this first element of the Speech Structure is very important. It’s in this element that you need to grab the attention of your audience, and engage with them, so that they’re eager to hear what you have to say.
There are a number of ways you can do this (and this is not a definitive list). For instance, you could;
- Explain why the topic is so important for your audience.
- Ask a thought-provoking or rhetorical question.
- Make a startling statement. One that’s either interesting or controversial.
- Make a series of statements that gradually arouse suspense or curiosity.
- Get your audience to think back to a particular time.
- Get your audience to imagine a particular scenario.
- Tell a quick story or anecdote.
- Recite a relevant quotation.
- Tell a relevant joke. Relevance being particularly important on this one.
- Make a relevant historical reference.
- Give a demonstration.
- Do something that requires audience participation.
And the list goes on. In fact, it’s only really limited by our own imagination.
Once you’ve got their attention, don’t forget to ‘Tell them what you’re going to tell them’.
There are some things that you should avoid, including talking about the amount of preparation time involved, delaying mentioning the purpose or topic of your speech and you should never apologise for anything from the stage.
Once you have won the attention of the audience, your speech should move seamlessly to the middle, or Body, of your speech.
A Simple Speech Structure – The Body
This second element of the speech structure will, generally, form the largest portion of your speech and at this point, your opening will have grabbed the attention of your audience. They will have been introduced to you, and to the subject of your speech, and they’ll be ready to hear what it is that you have to say.
Whatever your message, you will probably have a number of points that you’d like to make, but it’s important not to over complicate things by throwing in a whole host of points, as doing that can be very confusing.
I’d suggest that you whittle it down to just 2 to 4 points that you can make, effectively. It’s also important that you introduce them in such a way that each point you make builds upon those that have gone before. Doing this makes your speech easy to understand, easy to follow and your audience will get far more enjoyment from your speech, as a result.
More importantly, they’ll understand your message which, after all, is why you’re making your speech in the first place.
Having gone through your points in sequence, you’ll have set up your audience, perfectly, to go into your closing.
A Simple Speech Structure – The Closing
Where the opening of your speech is all about grabbing the attention of your audience, the closing is about re-iterating what you’ve had to say and then leaving your audience with a clear idea of what they should be doing, thinking or feeling as a result of your speech. After all, every speech has a purpose, doesn’t it?
Where the first 30 seconds of your speech is, probably, the most important part, your closing comes a close second. You want to leave your audience with a great impression and to do so, your closing will need to contain some of your strongest material.
In fact, your closing is the last opportunity you have to make that great impression, so, you need to grasp that opportunity and;
- Give a good summary of the main points of your speech.
- Provide a little more food for thought for your listeners- perhaps with one more, quick point.
- Leave your audience with positive memories of your speech.
- End with a final thought or call to action of some kind.
I find that if you can link your final point / message / call to action back to something in your opening, this can pull your speech together in a very powerful way and leave your audience with a great impression.
There are, of course, lots of ways to do this. As an example; if you ask a question, or make a statement, at the end of your opening, you can then answer that question, or refer back to that statement, as the final thought of your speech. This links everything together very nicely.
And that, my friends, is a simple Speech Structure and how to make it work for you.
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Have a great one,