Five Different Methods of Organizing Your Speech.

Many times, public speakers organize their material in a fashion that is customary for school reports, that is, the Modern Language Association (MLA)’s formal structure of: Introduction, 3 Supporting Points, and Conclusion. While there is no problem in constructing a presentation in this fashion, it may not be a completely effective way to convey your information, especially when your audience is not a classroom. Today, we’ll go over four alternative ways of organizing your subject material into modes that spark the imagination and help the audience take in your subject.

1: Cause – Effect – Solution

In this example, the speaker has organized the material so that the calls for change in policy or acquisition of a product is preceded by the distinct and direct illustration of exactly why a given solution is desired – no, required to be adopted. Look at your material, what does it remedy? What could be some consequences if your solution is not chosen?

Your audience must understand that there is a cause which is detrimental to their livelihood, one that has a definite and undesirable effect upon them. Give one, maybe two examples of this before dropping The Solution upon them. Address specifically the prior cause and exactly how your solution can remedy or avoid the undesirable consequences.

2) Chronological Approach

 This approach is somewhat simple in that it requires that events be strung along a thread of Event A then Event B, but it requires that the events be laid in a sequence where Event A necessarily leads into Event B. Here each separate occurrence must relate to each other in that one leads to the next in a logical chain. Having each event relate to the next is crucial, so that they do not seem like a bunch of unrelated situations that magically add up to the present.

Here, the subject matter must be laid out so that the audience is able to make connections by them selves, thereby linking them to the subject matter in an intimate fashion. Here, your audience may feel empowered enough to ask more questions and contribute, making the overall presentation that much more effective.

3) Comparison: The Battle of A vs. B

 This tried-and true technique is regarded like somewhat of a commandment in advertising. Fed up with everyday life? Go on vacation. Product A is leaving streaks? Use Product B, the streak-less choice. Here, the juxtaposition of two alternatives is given, and the disadvantages of (A) are then eclipsed by the features of (B).

One could front-load the features of (A) before illuminating the virtues of (B), or go back and forth between the two, with different situations involving the two choices. Which one will work for you? Test them both out and see for yourself why ____ is the correct choice!

4) The Storyteller

We may have seen this technique in use in long-form sales copy where seemingly ordinary yet personably relatable characters all choose a sunny late spring day to catastrophically fail due to their ignorance of a given product. This then turns over into a listing of the product’s virtues and a call to buy. Rather than start with a hard sell, this technique of telling a story creates a world inside the audience’s mind, peopled with their own characters and driven by their own emotions.

Audiences want to be a part of the presentation; they need to have a picture in their minds of what the subject matter in order to keep interested. Look at your material; Are there players? Can a story be crafted from them? Make it so that the subject flows along a linear timeline, so that each listener can make their own sense of what is being conveyed, perhaps anticipating the next event. Once this happens, you have control of your audience and can take them anywhere you like.

5) Going from Particular to General to Particular

Does your subject matter deal with a specific incident? Does it remind you of a particular moment in your life that deals directly with? Many movies start out with a character experiencing a particular turning point that ends up influencing their lives and fits neatly within the larger scope of the story, a childhood memory that triggers a sequence of events later, and so on. Learn to use this to your advantage when constructing a speech so you can relate better to your audience.

Many of your audience members have had the same kind of moment, or can at least imagine it happening. Start by illustrating this moment, then relate it to the larger subject matter of your presentation. Make it directly apply so that the meaning of your personal story does not get lost, and when you are done with your supporting points, recall that story and how it connects with your material, this always makes for a powerful conclusion.

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