Introduction Speech - A Step-by-Step Guide & Examples
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Published on: Nov 10, 2018
Last updated on: Nov 7, 2023
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Introduction speeches are all around us. Whenever we meet a new group of people in formal settings, we have to introduce ourselves. That’s what an introduction speech is all about.
When you're facing a formal audience, your ability to deliver a compelling introductory speech can make a lot of difference. With the correct approach, you can build credibility and connections.
In this blog, we'll take you through the steps to craft an impactful introduction speech. You’ll also get examples and valuable tips to ensure you leave a lasting impression.
So, let's dive in!
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What is an Introduction Speech?
An introduction speech, or introductory address, is a brief presentation at the beginning of an event or public speaking engagement. Its primary purpose is to establish a connection with the audience and to introduce yourself or the main speaker.
This type of speech is commonly used in a variety of situations, including:
- Public Speaking: When you step onto a stage to address a large crowd, you start with an introduction to establish your presence and engage the audience.
- Networking Events: When meeting new people in professional or social settings, an effective introduction speech can help you make a memorable first impression.
- Formal Gatherings: From weddings to conferences, introductions set the tone for the event and create a warm and welcoming atmosphere.
In other words, an introduction speech is simply a way to introduce yourself to a crowd of people.
How to Write an Introduction Speech?
Before you can just go and deliver your speech, you need to prepare for it. Writing a speech helps you organize your ideas and prepare your speech effectively.
Here is how to introduce yourself in a speech.
- Know Your Audience
Understanding your audience is crucial. Consider their interests, backgrounds, and expectations to tailor your introduction accordingly.
For instance, the audience members could be your colleagues, new classmates, or various guests depending on the occasion. Understanding your audience will help you decide what they are expecting from you as a speaker.
- Start with a Hook
Begin with a captivating opening line that grabs your audience's attention. This could be a surprising fact, a relevant quote, or a thought-provoking question about yourself or the occasion.
- Introduce Yourself
Introduce yourself to the audience. State your name, occupation, or other details relevant to the occasion. You should mention the reason for your speech clearly. It will build your credibility and give the readers reasons to stay with you and read your speech.
- Keep It Concise
So how long is an introduction speech?
Introduction speeches should be brief and to the point. Aim for around 1-2 minutes in most cases. Avoid overloading the introduction with excessive details.
- Highlight Key Points
Mention the most important information that establishes the speaker's credibility or your own qualifications. Write down any relevant achievements, expertise, or credentials to include in your speech. Encourage the audience to connect with you using relatable anecdotes or common interests.
- Rehearse and Edit
Practice your introduction speech to ensure it flows smoothly and stays within the time frame. Edit out any unnecessary information, ensuring it's concise and impactful.
- Tailor for the Occasion
Adjust the tone and content of your introduction speech to match the formality and purpose of the event. What works for a business conference may not be suitable for a casual gathering.
Introduction Speech Outline
To assist you in creating a structured and effective introduction speech, here's a simple outline that you can follow:
Here is an example outline for a self-introduction speech.
Outline for Self-Introduction Speech
7 Ways to Open an Introduction Speech
You can start your introduction speech as most people do:
“Hello everyone, my name is _____. I will talk about _____. Thank you so much for having me. So first of all _______”
However, this is the fastest way to make your audience lose interest. Instead, you should start by captivating your audience’s interest. Here are 7 ways to do that:
Start with a thought-provoking quote that relates to your topic or the occasion. E.g. "Mahatma Gandhi once said, 'You must be the change you want to see in the world."
- Anecdote or Story
Begin with a brief, relevant anecdote or story that draws the audience in. It could be a story about yourself or any catchy anecdote to begin the flow of your speech.
Pose a rhetorical question to engage the audience's curiosity and involvement. For example, "Have you ever wondered what it would be like to travel back in time, to experience a moment in history?”
- Statistic or Fact
Share a surprising statistic or interesting fact that underscores the significance of your speech. E.g. “Did you know that as of today, over 60% of the world's population has access to the internet?”
- “What If” Scenario
Paint a vivid "What if" scenario that relates to your topic, sparking the audience's imagination and curiosity. For example, "What if I told you that a single decision today could change the course of your life forever?"
- Ignite Imagination
Encourage the audience to envision a scenario related to your topic. For instance, "Imagine a world where clean energy powers everything around us, reducing our carbon footprint to almost zero."
Start your introduction speech with a moment of silence, allowing the audience to focus and anticipate your message. This can be especially powerful in creating a sense of suspense and intrigue.
Introduction Speech Example
To help you understand how to put these ideas into practice, here are the introduction speech examples for different scenarios.
Introduction Speech Writing Sample
Short Introduction Speech Sample
Self Introduction Speech for College Students
Introduction Speech about Yourself
Student Presentation Introduction Speech Script
Teacher Introduction Speech
New Employee Self Introduction Speech
Introduction Speech for Chief Guest
Moreover, here is a video example of a self introduction. Watch it to understand how you should deliver your speech:
Want to read examples for other kinds of speeches? Find the best speeches at our blog about speech examples !
Introduction Speech Ideas
So now that you’ve understood what an introduction speech is, you may want to write one of your own. So what should you talk about?
The following are some ideas to start an introduction speech for a presentation, meeting, or social gathering in an engaging way.
- Personal Story: Share a brief personal story or an experience that has shaped you, introducing yourself on a deeper level.
- Professional Background: Introduce yourself by highlighting your professional background, including your career achievements and expertise.
- Hobby or Passion: Discuss a hobby or passion that you're enthusiastic about, offering insights into your interests and what drives you.
- Volunteer Work: Introduce yourself by discussing your involvement in volunteer work or community service, demonstrating your commitment to making a difference.
- Travel Adventures: Share anecdotes from your travel adventures, giving the audience a glimpse into your love for exploring new places and cultures.
- Books or Literature: Provide an introduction related to a favorite book, author, or literary work, revealing your literary interests.
- Achievements and Milestones: Highlight significant achievements and milestones in your life or career to introduce yourself with an impressive track record.
- Cultural Heritage: Explore your cultural heritage and its influence on your identity, fostering a sense of cultural understanding.
- Social or Environmental Cause: Discuss your dedication to a particular social or environmental cause, inviting the audience to join you in your mission.
- Future Aspirations: Share your future goals and aspirations, offering a glimpse into what you hope to achieve in your personal or professional life.
You can deliver engaging speeches on all kinds of topics. Here is a list of entertaining speech topics to get inspiration.
Tips for Delivering the Best Introduction Speech
Here are some tips for you to write a perfect introduction speech in no time.
Now that you know how to write an effective introduction speech, let's focus on the delivery. The way you present your introduction is just as important as the content itself.
Here are some valuable tips to ensure you deliver a better introduction speech:
- Maintain Eye Contact
Make eye contact with the audience to establish a connection. This shows confidence and engages your listeners.
- Use Appropriate Body Language
Your body language should convey confidence and warmth. Stand or sit up straight, use open gestures, and avoid fidgeting.
- Mind Your Pace
Speak at a moderate pace, avoiding rapid speech. A well-paced speech is easier to follow and more engaging.
- Avoid Filler Words
Minimize the use of filler words such as "um," "uh," and "like." They can be distracting and detract from your message.
- Be Enthusiastic
Convey enthusiasm about the topic or the speaker. Your energy can be contagious and inspire the audience's interest.
- Practice, Practice, Practice
Rehearse your speech multiple times. Practice in front of a mirror, record yourself, or seek feedback from others.
- Be Mindful of Time
Stay within the allocated time for your introduction. Going too long can make your speech too boring for the audience.
- Engage the Audience
Encourage the audience's participation. You could do that by asking rhetorical questions, involving them in a brief activity, or sharing relatable anecdotes.
Mistakes to Avoid in an Introduction Speech
While crafting and delivering an introduction speech, it's important to be aware of common pitfalls that can diminish its effectiveness. Avoiding these mistakes will help you create a more engaging and memorable introduction.
Here are some key mistakes to steer clear of:
- Rambling On
One of the most common mistakes is making the introduction too long. Keep it concise and to the point. The purpose is to set the stage, not steal the spotlight.
- Lack of Preparation
Failing to prepare adequately can lead to stumbling, awkward pauses, or losing your train of thought. Rehearse your introduction to build confidence.
- Using Jargon or Complex Language
Avoid using technical jargon or complex language that may confuse the audience. Your introduction should be easily understood by everyone.
- Being Too Generic
A generic or uninspiring introduction can set a lackluster tone. Ensure your introduction is tailored to the event and speaker, making it more engaging.
- Using Inappropriate Humor
Be cautious with humor, as it can easily backfire. Avoid inappropriate or potentially offensive jokes that could alienate the audience.
- Not Tailoring to the Occasion
An introduction should be tailored to the specific event's formality and purpose. A one-size-fits-all approach may not work in all situations.
An introduction speech is more than just a formality. It's an opportunity to engage, inspire, and connect with your audience in a meaningful way.
With the help of this blog, you're well-equipped to shine in various contexts. So, step onto that stage, speak confidently, and captivate your audience from the very first word.
Moreover, you’re not alone in your journey to becoming a confident introducer. If you ever need assistance in preparing your speech, let the experts help you out.
MyPerfectWords.com offers a reputable essay writing service with experienced professionals who can craft tailored introductions, ensuring your speech makes a lasting impact.
Don't hesitate; hire our professionals now to procure speeches at budget-friendly rates for your " Write my speech " needs.
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Dr. Barbara is a highly experienced writer and author who holds a Ph.D. degree in public health from an Ivy League school. She has worked in the medical field for many years, conducting extensive research on various health topics. Her writing has been featured in several top-tier publications.
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The introduction and conclusion of a speech are essential. The audience will remember the main ideas even if the middle of the speech is a mess or nerves overtake the speaker. So if nothing else, get these parts down!
The introduction gives the audience a reason to listen to the remainder of the speech. A good introduction needs to get the audience’s attention, state the topic, make the topic relatable, establish credibility, and preview the main points. Introductions should be the last part of the speech written, as they set expectations and need to match the content.
The first few sentences of a speech are designed to catch and maintain the audience’s attention. Attention getters give the audience a reason to listen to the rest of the speech. Your attention getter helps the audience understand and reflect on your topic.
- Speaker walks up to stage with notes stuck to hands with jelly.
- Did you know there is a right way to make a peanut butter and jelly sandwich?
- Rob Gronkowski once said, “Usually, about 2 hours before a game, I stuff in a nice peanut butter and jelly [sandwich] with chocolate milk.”
- A little boy walks in from a long day at school, telling his mom that he is starving. His mom is confused because she knows she sent him to school with a full lunch. As she opens his lunch box, she sees his peanut butter and jelly, with the grape jelly smeared on the side of the bag. She realizes there has to be a better way to make a PB&J.
- Bring in a clear sandwich bag with jelly seeping through the bread of a peanut butter and jelly sandwich.
Once the audience is invested in the speech, logical orientation tells the audience how the speaker will approach and develop the topic.
- Peanut butter on both sides of the bread with jelly in the middle is the best way to make a PB&J.
- PB&Js have developed a bad reputation, because of the jelly making the bread soggy and hands sticky.
Like the logical orientation of a speech, the psychological orientation is also going to provide the audience with a map for how and why the topic is being presented.
- Most of us remember our moms – dads too – packing a peanut butter and jelly sandwich in our lunches. We also remember how the jelly did not just stay in the sandwich, but became a new stain on our shirts and the glue that held all the playground dirt to our hands.
- We can end this torture for future generations by making sure all parents are aware of the best way to make a PB&J.
- I have eaten numerous PB&Js myself, but my real authority on the topic comes from being a mom of two boys and the maker of many PB&Js.
Both the logical and psychological orientations give the audience a road map for the speech ahead as well as cues for what to listen to. This will help the audience transition from the introduction to the main points of the speech.
Beebe, S. A., & Beebe, S. J. (2012). A concise public speaking handbook . Boston: Allyn & Bacon.
Lucas, S. (2012). The art of public speaking . New York, NY: McGraw-Hill.
Sprague, J. & Stuart, D. (2013). The speaker's compact handbook, 4th ed . Portland: Ringgold, Inc.
Vrooman, S. S. (2013). The zombie guide to public speaking: Why most presentations fail, and what you can do to avoid joining the horde . Place of publication not identified: CreateSpace.
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Your Speech's Introduction: How to Make It Powerful
There's a moment of high drama when you give a speech or presentation—and it occurs before you've even said a word. It's the first few seconds when the "curtain" goes up.
In other words, it's all about anticipation. Your audience at that instant is paying maximum attention . . . they're primed for whatever they're about to experience. Often, these audience members will have no idea of your speaking ability. Oh, they may know they're interested in the topic. But they are almost surely filled with hope that the next half-hour or hour will be interesting and exciting.
Great speakers understand how to engage and move audiences at moments like this. You should too! Learn how in my Free Guide , "Six Rules of Effective Public Speaking."
What happens in the next 60 seconds will help determine whether your speech is successful or not. So here are four key elements you should always include in your speech's introduction. If you want listeners to pay attention, become intrigued, and tell themselves they're in good company, do these four things, in the following order:
1) Grab 'Em from the Moment You Begin Speaking
Consider how most presenters begin. Nearly always, it's along the lines of, "Good afternoon. It's so nice to see you all. Today I'll be talking about . ." followed by a slide with the word "Agenda" and 5 bullet points. If we can't hear you screaming as an audience member, it's probably only because you're too polite to be doing it in public.
These first few seconds are such valuable real estate, it's shocking that speakers don't spend any time working up an inviting treatment. In fact, it's not overstating things to say that if you want to succeed as a speaker, you have to know how to start a speech . There are rhetorical devices ready and waiting for you to use to kick off in a much more interesting way. Here for instance are 12 foolproof ways to open a speech .
It's not good enough to take three or four minutes to settle into your groove. Remember that moment of drama, and how everyone is anticipating what you're about to reveal. You need to burn rubber as soon as your tires hit the road, not spin them unnecessarily in the gravel. It's infinitely easier to keep an audience with you if you engage them from the start.
This is the time your natural talent is on display! To build credibility and earn trust, download my Free e-book , "12 Easy Ways to Achieve Presence and Charisma."
2) Reveal Your Topic (and Make It Sound Interesting)
At this point, without going any further into your speech, reveal your topic.
You may be thinking, "Well, yeah, of course!" Yet haven't you sat through speeches where, five minutes in, you're saying to yourself, "What's the topic here, anyway?" It one of the ways we as speakers may take things for granted, believing that the subject matter is perfectly obvious. (The phrase 'perfectly obvious' should not be part of your public speaking thought process!)
Even if the topic of your speech is emblazoned on posters and flyers beforehand, you lose nothing by reminding the audience about it in your intro. Besides, this is an opportunity to make it sound interesting. You could say, "My topic today is migrating birds of the Northeast." OR you could offer this instead: "Today, you'll be meeting some of the most eccentric characters you could ever run into . . . who just happen to be sitting outside your window right now."
Which talk sounds more interesting?
Just be sure to use language that helps rather than hurts your cause. Learn more in my Free White Paper , "25 Words or Phrases to Avoid in Speeches and Presentations."
3) Tell Them Why They Need to Listen
Here's the most neglected family member of speech introductions—the relative too many speakers kept hidden away in the attic, never to see the light of day. It's the moment you tell everyone why your topic is something they really need to pay attention to.
This is a huge part of engaging audiences and getting them to be present. And as I say, many presenters never even give it a thought. But consider this: every member of your audience is in a "What's-in-it-for-me" frame of mind every time they listen to a speech. They're wondering if this is going to be worth their presence and the effort it took to get here (and the time it's taking them away from their work.)
If you answer those questions in a way that relates to their lives and makes the payoff to them clear, they will pay attention. "I want to talk about this with you today, because it's going to make your life much easier," is a great way, for instance, to address a new procedure that everyone in the department would otherwise be bored to death to hear about. So tell them specifically what's in it for them. Believe me, their ears will perk up.
4) Give Them a Roadmap of Your Journey Together
So let's review. You've hooked your listeners' attention, made your topic sound intriguing, and told them how it's going to improve their lives. You're ready for the final part of your introduction: giving them a roadmap of where you'll be going together.
Call it a blueprint if you like that metaphor. (I prefer roadmap because it presupposes that you will be providing signposts along the way.) Partly, this is a way to make your subject manageable. Whatever that subject is, it's too big to talk about in its entirety. So you have to clue listeners in to the sub-topic areas you'll be addressing in this speech. It may sound something like this:
"I'll be talking about three specific elements of [reaching this goal, gaining this proficiency, understanding what you're looking at, etc.]. First, we'll examine [your first main point]. Once we have that information, we'll be able to [discuss your second item]. Finally, we'll add the third ingredient which will [give us a functioning model, repair the breach, head off the problem in the future . . . whatever the particulars are in your talk]." To me, this is already sounding more interesting than: "Here are the five parts of today's agenda for this speech."
As the great salesman Dale Carnegie once advised (and as I wrote about here ): "Tell the audience what you're going to say, say it; then tell them what you've said." To translate that into today's public speaking: Entice them with the journey you'll be going on together, take them there; then remind them of what an enlightening trip it's been.
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Gary Genard is an actor, author, and expert in theater-based public speaking training. His company, Boston-based The Genard Method offers in-person and online training to help executives and teams become extraordinary communicators. In 2020 for the seventh consecutive year, Gary has been ranked by Global Gurus as One of The World's Top 30 Communication Professionals . He is the author of How to Give a Speech . His second book, Fearless Speaking , was recently named as " One of the 100 Best Confidence Books of All Time ." Contact Gary here .
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15 Ways to Start a Speech + Bonus Tips
You have heard the saying “First impressions are lasting; you never get a second chance to create a good first impression.”
The same is true when talking about how to start a speech…
The truth is, when you start your speech, you must focus everything on making a positive first impression on your audience members (especially if you are doing the presentation virtually ). The introduction is basically the formal greetings for speeches, so let’s be sure to get this right to really hook the audience.
Here are 15 different ways to start a speech as well as 2 extra BONUS tips at the end.
1) Thank the Organizers and Audience
You can start by thanking the audience for coming and thanking the organization for inviting you to speak.
Refer to the person who introduced you or to one or more of the senior people in the organization in the audience.
This compliments them, makes them feel proud and happy about your presence, and connects you to the audience like an electrical plug in a socket.
2) Start With a Positive Statement
A presentation tip at the start is to tell the audience members how much they will like and enjoy what you have to say.
For example, you might say:
“You’re really going to enjoy the time we spend together this evening. I’m going to share with you some of the most important ideas that have ever been discovered in this area.”
Remember that speaking is an art, so be an artist and take complete control of your performance,
3) Compliment the Audience
You can begin by complimenting the audience members sincerely and with great respect.
Smile as if you are really glad to see them as if they are all old friends of yours that you have not seen for quite a while.
You can tell them that it is a great honor for you to be here, that they are some of the most important people in this business or industry, and that you are looking forward to sharing some key ideas with them.
You could say something like:
“It is an honor to be here with you today. You are the elite, the top 10 percent of people in this industry. Only the very best people in any field will take the time and make the sacrifice to come so far for a conference like this.”
4) Start Your Speech By Referring to Current Events
Use a current event front-page news story to transition into your subject and to illustrate or prove your point. You can bring a copy of the newspaper and hold it up as you refer to it in your introduction.
This visual image of you holding the paper and reciting or reading a key point rivets the audience’s attention and causes people to lean forward to hear what you have to say.
5) Refer to a Historical Event
For many years, I studied military history…
Especially the lives and campaigns of the great generals and the decisive battles they won. One of my favorites was Alexander the Great.
One day, I was asked to give a talk on leadership principles to a roomful of managers for a Fortune 500 company.
I decided that the campaign of Alexander the Great against Darius of Persia would make an excellent story that would illustrate the leadership qualities of one of the great commanders in history.
I opened my talk with these words:
“Once upon a time there was a young man named Alex who grew up in a poor country. But Alex was a little bit ambitious. From an early age, he decided that he wanted to conquer the entire known world. But there was a small problem. Most of the known world was under the control of a huge multinational called the Persian Empire, headed by King Darius II. To fulfill his ambition, Alex was going to have to take the market share away from the market leader, who was very determined to hold on to it.
This is the same situation that exists between you and your major competitors in the market today. You are going to have to use all your leadership skills to win the great marketing battles of the future.”
6) Refer to a Well Known Person
You can start by quoting a well-known person or publication that recently made an important statement.
One of the subjects I touch upon regularly is the importance of continual personal development.
I will say something like:
“In the twenty-first century, knowledge and know-how are the keys to success. As basketball coach Pat Riley said, ‘If you are not getting better, you are getting worse.’”
7) Refer to a Recent Conversation
Start by telling a story about a recent conversation with someone in attendance.
For instance, I might say:
“A few minutes ago, I was talking with Tom Robinson in the lobby. He told me that this is one of the very best times to be working in this industry, and I agree.”
8) Make a Shocking Statement
You can start your talk by making a shocking statement of some kind.
For example, you might say something like:
“According to a recent study, there will be more change, more competition, and more opportunities in this industry in the next year than ever before. And 72 percent of the people in this room will be doing something different within two years if they do not rapidly adapt top these changes.”
Click here If you want to learn more techniques to wow your audience.
9) Quote From Recent Research
You can start by quoting a recent research report.
One example is:
“According to a story in a recent issue of Businessweek, there were almost 11 million millionaires in America in 2018, most of them self-made.”
10) Start Your Speech By Giving Them Hope
The French philosopher Gustav Le Bon once wrote, “The only religion of mankind is, and always has been hope.”
When you speak effectively, you give people hope of some kind.
Remember, the ultimate purpose of speaking is to inspire people to do things that they would not have done in the absence of your comments.
Everything you say should relate to the actions you want people to take and the reasons that they should take those actions.
11) Be Entertaining
Bill Gove used to walk onto the stage after his introduction if he had just finished talking to someone on the side and was breaking off to give his talk to the group.
The audience got the feeling that his entire talk was one continuous conversation, devoid of meaningless filler words .
Bill would often go to the edge of the stage and then drop his voice in a conspiratorial way, open his arms, and beckon the audience members to come a little closer.
He would say, “Come here, let me tell you something,” and then he would wave them forward as though he was about to tell a secret to the entire room.
The amazing thing was that everyone in the room would lean forward to hear this “secret” that he was about to share. People would all suddenly realize what they were doing and break out in laughter. It was a wonderful device to get the audience into the palm of his hands.
12) Ask a Question
You can open by making a positive statement and then ask a question requiring a show of hands.
Try something like this:
“This is a great time to be alive and in business in America. By the way how many people here are self-employed?”
Raise your hand to indicate what you want people to do. I have used this line, and after a number of hands go up, I then say to someone who raised their hand in the front, “How many people here are really self-employed?”
Invariably, someone will say, “We all are!”
I then compliment and affirm the answer: “You’re right! We are all self-employed, from the time we take our first jobs to the day that we retire; we all work for ourselves, no matter who signs our paychecks.”
13) Open With a Problem
You can start with a problem that must be solved. If it is a problem that almost everyone has in common, you will immediately have the audience’s complete and undivided attention.
For example, you could say:
“Fully 63 percent of baby boomers are moving toward retirement without enough money put aside to provide for themselves for as long as they are going to live. We must address this problem and take action immediately to ensure that each person who retires will be able to live comfortably for the rest of his or her natural life.”
14) Make a Strong Statement, Then Ask a Question
You can start by making a strong statement and then ask a question. You then follow with an answer and ask another question. This gets people immediately involved and listening to your every word.
Here’s an example:
“Twenty percent of the people in our society make 80 percent of the money. Are you a member of the top 20 percent? If not, would you like to join the top 20 percent or even the top 10 percent? Well, in the next few minutes, I am going to give you some ideas to help you become some of the highest-paid people in our society. Would that be a good goal for our time together today?”
15) Tell a Story
You can start your talk with a story. Some of the most powerful words grab the complete attention of the audience are, “Once upon a time…”
From infancy and early childhood, people love stories of any kind. When you start off with the words, “Once upon a time…” you tell the audience that a story is coming. People immediately settle down, become quiet, and lean forward like kids around a campfire.
When I conduct full-day seminars and I want to bring people back to their seats after a break, I will say loudly, “Once upon a time there was a man, right here in this city…”
As soon as I say these words, people hurry back to their seats and begin to listen attentively to the rest of the story.
The story technique is very effective.
In fact, its probably one of the best public speaking tips I’ve learned to this day.
Bonus Tip: Tell Them About Yourself
Very often, I will start a speech to a business, sales, or entrepreneurial group by saying:
“I started off without graduating from high school. My family had no money. Everything I accomplished in life I had to do on my own with very little help from anyone else.”
It is amazing how many people come up to me after a talk that began with those words and tells me that was their experience as well.
They tell me that they could immediately identify with me because they too had started with poor grades and limited funds, as most people do. As a result, they were open to the rest of my talk, even a full-day seminar, and felt that everything I said was more valid and authentic than if I had been a person who started off with a successful background.
Building a bridge like this is very helpful in bringing the audience onto your side.
Bonus Tip: Get Them Talking to One Another
You can ask people to turn to the person next to them to discuss a particular point.
For instance, you could say:
“Tell the person next to you what you would like to learn from this seminar.”
Whatever you ask your audience members to do, within reason, they will do it for you. Your commands and your thought leadership will easily influence them, as long as you ask them with confidence.
By following any one of these tips for starting your speech, you are sure to grab your audience’s attention every time. How do you start a speech? Let me know in the comments.
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About Brian Tracy — Brian is recognized as the top sales training and personal success authority in the world today. He has authored more than 60 books and has produced more than 500 audio and video learning programs on sales, management, business success and personal development, including worldwide bestseller The Psychology of Achievement. Brian's goal is to help you achieve your personal and business goals faster and easier than you ever imagined. You can follow him on Twitter , Facebook , Pinterest , Linkedin and Youtube .
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9.3 Putting It Together: Steps to Complete Your Introduction
- Clearly identify why an audience should listen to a speaker.
- Discuss how you can build your credibility during a speech.
- Understand how to write a clear thesis statement.
- Design an effective preview of your speech’s content for your audience.
Erin Brown-John – puzzle – CC BY-NC 2.0.
Once you have captured your audience’s attention, it’s important to make the rest of your introduction interesting, and use it to lay out the rest of the speech. In this section, we are going to explore the five remaining parts of an effective introduction: linking to your topic, reasons to listen, stating credibility, thesis statement, and preview.
Link to Topic
After the attention-getter, the second major part of an introduction is called the link to topic. The link to topic is the shortest part of an introduction and occurs when a speaker demonstrates how an attention-getting device relates to the topic of a speech. Often the attention-getter and the link to topic are very clear. For example, if you look at the attention-getting device example under historical reference above, you’ll see that the first sentence brings up the history of the Vietnam War and then shows us how that war can help us understand the Iraq War. In this case, the attention-getter clearly flows directly to the topic. However, some attention-getters need further explanation to get to the topic of the speech. For example, both of the anecdote examples (the girl falling into the manhole while texting and the boy and the filberts) need further explanation to connect clearly to the speech topic (i.e., problems of multitasking in today’s society).
Let’s look at the first anecdote example to demonstrate how we could go from the attention-getter to the topic.
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. This anecdote illustrates the problem that many people are facing in today’s world. We are so wired into our technology that we forget to see what’s going on around us—like a big hole in front of us.
In this example, the third sentence here explains that the attention-getter was an anecdote that illustrates a real issue. The fourth sentence then introduces the actual topic of the speech.
Let’s now examine how we can make the transition from the parable or fable attention-getter to the topic:
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.” In today’s world, many of us are us are just like the boy putting his hand into the pitcher. We are constantly trying to grab so much or do so much that it prevents us from accomplishing our goals. I would like to show you three simple techniques to manage your time so that you don’t try to pull too many filberts from your pitcher.
In this example, we added three new sentences to the attention-getter to connect it to the speech topic.
Reasons to Listen
Once you have linked an attention-getter to the topic of your speech, you need to explain to your audience why your topic is important. We call this the “why should I care?” part of your speech because it tells your audience why the topic is directly important to them. Sometimes you can include the significance of your topic in the same sentence as your link to the topic, but other times you may need to spell out in one or two sentences why your specific topic is important.
People in today’s world are very busy, and they do not like their time wasted. Nothing is worse than having to sit through a speech that has nothing to do with you. Imagine sitting through a speech about a new software package you don’t own and you will never hear of again. How would you react to the speaker? Most of us would be pretty annoyed at having had our time wasted in this way. Obviously, this particular speaker didn’t do a great job of analyzing her or his audience if the audience isn’t going to use the software package—but even when speaking on a topic that is highly relevant to the audience, speakers often totally forget to explain how and why it is important.
The next part of a speech is not so much a specific “part” as an important characteristic that needs to be pervasive throughout your introduction and your entire speech. As a speaker, you want to be seen as credible (competent, trustworthy, and caring/having goodwill). As mentioned earlier in this chapter, credibility is ultimately a perception that is made by your audience. While your audience determines whether they perceive you as competent, trustworthy, and caring/having goodwill, there are some strategies you can employ to make yourself appear more credible.
First, to make yourself appear competent, you can either clearly explain to your audience why you are competent about a given subject or demonstrate your competence by showing that you have thoroughly researched a topic by including relevant references within your introduction. The first method of demonstrating competence—saying it directly—is only effective if you are actually a competent person on a given subject. If you are an undergraduate student and you are delivering a speech about the importance of string theory in physics, unless you are a prodigy of some kind, you are probably not a recognized expert on the subject. Conversely, if your number one hobby in life is collecting memorabilia about the Three Stooges, then you may be an expert about the Three Stooges. However, you would need to explain to your audience your passion for collecting Three Stooges memorabilia and how this has made you an expert on the topic.
If, on the other hand, you are not actually a recognized expert on a topic, you need to demonstrate that you have done your homework to become more knowledgeable than your audience about your topic. The easiest way to demonstrate your competence is through the use of appropriate references from leading thinkers and researchers on your topic. When you demonstrate to your audience that you have done your homework, they are more likely to view you as competent.
The second characteristic of credibility, trustworthiness, is a little more complicated than competence, for it ultimately relies on audience perceptions. One way to increase the likelihood that a speaker will be perceived as trustworthy is to use reputable sources. If you’re quoting Dr. John Smith, you need to explain who Dr. John Smith is so your audience will see the quotation as being more trustworthy. As speakers we can easily manipulate our sources into appearing more credible than they actually are, which would be unethical. When you are honest about your sources with your audience, they will trust you and your information more so than when you are ambiguous. The worst thing you can do is to out-and-out lie about information during your speech. Not only is lying highly unethical, but if you are caught lying, your audience will deem you untrustworthy and perceive everything you are saying as untrustworthy. Many speakers have attempted to lie to an audience because it will serve their own purposes or even because they believe their message is in their audience’s best interest, but lying is one of the fastest ways to turn off an audience and get them to distrust both the speaker and the message.
The third characteristic of credibility to establish during the introduction is the sense of caring/goodwill. While some unethical speakers can attempt to manipulate an audience’s perception that the speaker cares, ethical speakers truly do care about their audiences and have their audience’s best interests in mind while speaking. Often speakers must speak in front of audiences that may be hostile toward the speaker’s message. In these cases, it is very important for the speaker to explain that he or she really does believe her or his message is in the audience’s best interest. One way to show that you have your audience’s best interests in mind is to acknowledge disagreement from the start:
Today I’m going to talk about why I believe we should enforce stricter immigration laws in the United States. I realize that many of you will disagree with me on this topic. I used to believe that open immigration was a necessity for the United States to survive and thrive, but after researching this topic, I’ve changed my mind. While I may not change all of your minds today, I do ask that you listen with an open mind, set your personal feelings on this topic aside, and judge my arguments on their merits.
While clearly not all audience members will be open or receptive to opening their minds and listening to your arguments, by establishing that there is known disagreement, you are telling the audience that you understand their possible views and are not trying to attack their intellect or their opinions.
A thesis statement is a short, declarative sentence that states the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech. A strong, clear thesis statement is very valuable within an introduction because it lays out the basic goal of the entire speech. We strongly believe that it is worthwhile to invest some time in framing and writing a good thesis statement. You may even want to write your thesis statement before you even begin conducting research for your speech. While you may end up rewriting your thesis statement later, having a clear idea of your purpose, intent, or main idea before you start searching for research will help you focus on the most appropriate material. To help us understand thesis statements, we will first explore their basic functions and then discuss how to write a thesis statement.
Basic Functions of a Thesis Statement
A thesis statement helps your audience by letting them know “in a nutshell” what you are going to talk about. With a good thesis statement you will fulfill four basic functions: you express your specific purpose, provide a way to organize your main points, make your research more effective, and enhance your delivery.
Express Your Specific Purpose
To orient your audience, you need to be as clear as possible about your meaning. A strong thesis will prepare your audience effectively for the points that will follow. Here are two examples:
- “Today, I want to discuss academic cheating.” (weak example)
- “Today, I will clarify exactly what plagiarism is and give examples of its different types so that you can see how it leads to a loss of creative learning interaction.” (strong example)
The weak statement will probably give the impression that you have no clear position about your topic because you haven’t said what that position is. Additionally, the term “academic cheating” can refer to many behaviors—acquiring test questions ahead of time, copying answers, changing grades, or allowing others to do your coursework—so the specific topic of the speech is still not clear to the audience.
The strong statement not only specifies plagiarism but also states your specific concern (loss of creative learning interaction).
Provide a Way to Organize Your Main Points
A thesis statement should appear, almost verbatim, toward the end of the introduction to a speech. A thesis statement helps the audience get ready to listen to the arrangement of points that follow. Many speakers say that if they can create a strong thesis sentence, the rest of the speech tends to develop with relative ease. On the other hand, when the thesis statement is not very clear, creating a speech is an uphill battle.
When your thesis statement is sufficiently clear and decisive, you will know where you stand about your topic and where you intend to go with your speech. Having a clear thesis statement is especially important if you know a great deal about your topic or you have strong feelings about it. If this is the case for you, you need to know exactly what you are planning on talking about in order to fit within specified time limitations. Knowing where you are and where you are going is the entire point in establishing a thesis statement; it makes your speech much easier to prepare and to present.
Let’s say you have a fairly strong thesis statement, and that you’ve already brainstormed a list of information that you know about the topic. Chances are your list is too long and has no focus. Using your thesis statement, you can select only the information that (1) is directly related to the thesis and (2) can be arranged in a sequence that will make sense to the audience and will support the thesis. In essence, a strong thesis statement helps you keep useful information and weed out less useful information.
Make Your Research More Effective
If you begin your research with only a general topic in mind, you run the risk of spending hours reading mountains of excellent literature about your topic. However, mountains of literature do not always make coherent speeches. You may have little or no idea of how to tie your research all together, or even whether you should tie it together. If, on the other hand, you conduct your research with a clear thesis statement in mind, you will be better able to zero in only on material that directly relates to your chosen thesis statement. Let’s look at an example that illustrates this point:
Many traffic accidents involve drivers older than fifty-five.
While this statement may be true, you could find industrial, medical, insurance literature that can drone on ad infinitum about the details of all such accidents in just one year. Instead, focusing your thesis statement will help you narrow the scope of information you will be searching for while gathering information. Here’s an example of a more focused thesis statement:
Three factors contribute to most accidents involving drivers over fifty-five years of age: failing eyesight, slower reflexes, and rapidly changing traffic conditions.
This framing is somewhat better. This thesis statement at least provides three possible main points and some keywords for your electronic catalog search. However, if you want your audience to understand the context of older people at the wheel, consider something like:
Mature drivers over fifty-five years of age must cope with more challenging driving conditions than existed only one generation ago: more traffic moving at higher speeds, the increased imperative for quick driving decisions, and rapidly changing ramp and cloverleaf systems. Because of these challenges, I want my audience to believe that drivers over the age of sixty-five should be required to pass a driving test every five years.
This framing of the thesis provides some interesting choices. First, several terms need to be defined, and these definitions might function surprisingly well in setting the tone of the speech. Your definitions of words like “generation,” “quick driving decisions,” and “cloverleaf systems” could jolt your audience out of assumptions they have taken for granted as truth.
Second, the framing of the thesis provides you with a way to describe the specific changes as they have occurred between, say, 1970 and 2010. How much, and in what ways, have the volume and speed of traffic changed? Why are quick decisions more critical now? What is a “cloverleaf,” and how does any driver deal cognitively with exiting in the direction seemingly opposite to the desired one? Questions like this, suggested by your own thesis statement, can lead to a strong, memorable speech.
Enhance Your Delivery
When your thesis is not clear to you, your listeners will be even more clueless than you are—but if you have a good clear thesis statement, your speech becomes clear to your listeners. When you stand in front of your audience presenting your introduction, you can vocally emphasize the essence of your speech, expressed as your thesis statement. Many speakers pause for a half second, lower their vocal pitch slightly, slow down a little, and deliberately present the thesis statement, the one sentence that encapsulates its purpose. When this is done effectively, the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech is driven home for an audience.
How to Write a Thesis Statement
Now that we’ve looked at why a thesis statement is crucial in a speech, let’s switch gears and talk about how we go about writing a solid thesis statement. A thesis statement is related to the general and specific purposes of a speech as we discussed them in Chapter 6 “Finding a Purpose and Selecting a Topic” .
Choose Your Topic
The first step in writing a good thesis statement was originally discussed in Chapter 6 “Finding a Purpose and Selecting a Topic” when we discussed how to find topics. Once you have a general topic, you are ready to go to the second step of creating a thesis statement.
Narrow Your Topic
One of the hardest parts of writing a thesis statement is narrowing a speech from a broad topic to one that can be easily covered during a five- to ten-minute speech. While five to ten minutes may sound like a long time to new public speakers, the time flies by very quickly when you are speaking. You can easily run out of time if your topic is too broad. To ascertain if your topic is narrow enough for a specific time frame, ask yourself three questions.
First, is your thesis statement narrow or is it a broad overgeneralization of a topic? An overgeneralization occurs when we classify everyone in a specific group as having a specific characteristic. For example, a speaker’s thesis statement that “all members of the National Council of La Raza are militant” is an overgeneralization of all members of the organization. Furthermore, a speaker would have to correctly demonstrate that all members of the organization are militant for the thesis statement to be proven, which is a very difficult task since the National Council of La Raza consists of millions of Hispanic Americans. A more appropriate thesis related to this topic could be, “Since the creation of the National Council of La Raza [NCLR] in 1968, the NCLR has become increasingly militant in addressing the causes of Hispanics in the United States.”
The second question to ask yourself when narrowing a topic is whether your speech’s topic is one clear topic or multiple topics. A strong thesis statement consists of only a single topic. The following is an example of a thesis statement that contains too many topics: “Medical marijuana, prostitution, and gay marriage should all be legalized in the United States.” Not only are all three fairly broad, but you also have three completely unrelated topics thrown into a single thesis statement. Instead of a thesis statement that has multiple topics, limit yourself to only one topic. Here’s an example of a thesis statement examining only one topic: “Today we’re going to examine the legalization and regulation of the oldest profession in the state of Nevada.” In this case, we’re focusing our topic to how one state has handled the legalization and regulation of prostitution.
The last question a speaker should ask when making sure a topic is sufficiently narrow is whether the topic has direction. If your basic topic is too broad, you will never have a solid thesis statement or a coherent speech. For example, if you start off with the topic “Barack Obama is a role model for everyone,” what do you mean by this statement? Do you think President Obama is a role model because of his dedication to civic service? Do you think he’s a role model because he’s a good basketball player? Do you think he’s a good role model because he’s an excellent public speaker? When your topic is too broad, almost anything can become part of the topic. This ultimately leads to a lack of direction and coherence within the speech itself. To make a cleaner topic, a speaker needs to narrow her or his topic to one specific area. For example, you may want to examine why President Obama is a good speaker.
Put Your Topic into a Sentence
Once you’ve narrowed your topic to something that is reasonably manageable given the constraints placed on your speech, you can then formalize that topic as a complete sentence. For example, you could turn the topic of President Obama’s public speaking skills into the following sentence: “Because of his unique sense of lyricism and his well-developed presentational skills, President Barack Obama is a modern symbol of the power of public speaking.” Once you have a clear topic sentence, you can start tweaking the thesis statement to help set up the purpose of your speech.
Add Your Argument, Viewpoint, or Opinion
This function only applies if you are giving a speech to persuade. If your topic is informative, your job is to make sure that the thesis statement is nonargumentative and focuses on facts. For example, in the preceding thesis statement we have a couple of opinion-oriented terms that should be avoided for informative speeches: “unique sense,” “well-developed,” and “power.” All three of these terms are laced with an individual’s opinion, which is fine for a persuasive speech but not for an informative speech. For informative speeches, the goal of a thesis statement is to explain what the speech will be informing the audience about, not attempting to add the speaker’s opinion about the speech’s topic. For an informative speech, you could rewrite the thesis statement to read, “This speech is going to analyze Barack Obama’s use of lyricism in his speech, ‘A World That Stands as One,’ delivered July 2008 in Berlin.”
On the other hand, if your topic is persuasive, you want to make sure that your argument, viewpoint, or opinion is clearly indicated within the thesis statement. If you are going to argue that Barack Obama is a great speaker, then you should set up this argument within your thesis statement.
Use the Thesis Checklist
Once you have written a first draft of your thesis statement, you’re probably going to end up revising your thesis statement a number of times prior to delivering your actual speech. A thesis statement is something that is constantly tweaked until the speech is given. As your speech develops, often your thesis will need to be rewritten to whatever direction the speech itself has taken. We often start with a speech going in one direction, and find out through our research that we should have gone in a different direction. When you think you finally have a thesis statement that is good to go for your speech, take a second and make sure it adheres to the criteria shown in Table 9.1 “Thesis Checklist”
Table 9.1 Thesis Checklist
Preview of Speech
The final part of an introduction contains a preview of the major points to be covered within your speech. I’m sure we’ve all seen signs that have three cities listed on them with the mileage to reach each city. This mileage sign is an indication of what is to come. A preview works the same way. A preview foreshadows what the main body points will be in the speech. For example, to preview a speech on bullying in the workplace, one could say, “To understand the nature of bullying in the modern workplace, I will first define what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying, I will then discuss the common characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets, and lastly, I will explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.” In this case, each of the phrases mentioned in the preview would be a single distinct point made in the speech itself. In other words, the first major body point in this speech would examine what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying; the second major body point in this speech would discuss the common characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets; and lastly, the third body point in this speech would explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.
- Linking the attention-getter to the speech topic is essential so that you maintain audience attention and so that the relevance of the attention-getter is clear to your audience.
- Establishing how your speech topic is relevant and important shows the audience why they should listen to your speech.
- To be an effective speaker, you should convey all three components of credibility, competence, trustworthiness, and caring/goodwill, by the content and delivery of your introduction.
- A clear thesis statement is essential to provide structure for a speaker and clarity for an audience.
- An effective preview identifies the specific main points that will be present in the speech body.
- Make a list of the attention-getting devices you might use to give a speech on the importance of recycling. Which do you think would be most effective? Why?
- Create a thesis statement for a speech related to the topic of collegiate athletics. Make sure that your thesis statement is narrow enough to be adequately covered in a five- to six-minute speech.
- Discuss with a partner three possible body points you could utilize for the speech on the topic of volunteerism.
- Fill out the introduction worksheet to help work through your introduction for your next speech. Please make sure that you answer all the questions clearly and concisely.
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How to write a speech introduction
12 of the best attention getters to start a speech
By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 01-12-2023
The audience settles in their seats. The lights dim. You walk out to the center of the stage. You pause, take a deep breath, open your mouth and begin.
What you say over the next 30 seconds to introduce your speech or presentation is crucial.
That's how much time you have to make a positive impression on your audience. In it they will decide whether or not you have anything relevant or useful to say. Those first impressions count!
So how do you write an effective speech introduction to grab and hold their attention?
Begin by finding out how to choose the right opener.
What's on this page:
- how to choose the right opener for your speech
12 of the very best ways to start a speech
3. What if?
5. Key fact
How to choose the right opener for your speech
The better way to make your choice of opener is after you have carefully considered who you are talking to and why you're talking to them.
One size does not fit all. Different audiences will respond differently. If you are giving the same speech multiple times think about what you may need to change to fit.
To work well your opening needs to be aligned with:
- the type of speech you're giving
- your main purpose for giving it
- your target audience and,
- their interests or needs
Both the hook * to catch their attention and your topic must be relevant to them. Unless they're a captive audience, they've come freely to listen to you and they're expecting something of value from you.
How are you going to let them know they're in the right place? Why should they listen? What are they going to get or gain through listening?
Out of all the different ways to open, what attention getter is absolutely the best way?
The only way I know to work out what is best is to go through each of them, and as you do, consider your audience. Make a short list of those you think might work then try them out before making your final choice.
* hook – an opening statement that immediately captures the audience's attention just like a well baited hook on a fishing line catches a fish.
Return to Top
1. Use imagination to create mind pictures
Ask the audience to use their imagination. Get them to build evocative compelling images in their minds. Make them large. Add vibrant color, sound and movement.
“Let's take a break. Make yourself comfortable. Now close your eyes for a moment. Take a deep breath, and you're there, in the place where you feel the most at ease, the place where all the tensions, all the demands of your normal everyday life disappear. Look around you. See it. Feel it. It's so good, it's perfect."
“Close your eyes. Take a deep breath and a moment to picture in your mind the people dearest to you, the people you feel you could not live without. Now when did you talk to them, or spend real time with them last?"
2. Use an item to build a connection
Choose an image or an object related to your speech, for instance a pair of shoes, to trigger interest and build a connection.
For example, if I were giving a speech on the lives of upper-middle class 19th century women I could open by holding up a pair of ornately decorated kid leather pumps.
“What's the name of the young woman who wore these? Listen. Can you hear the rustle of her silk skirts? And hear her heart beat bom-biddy-bom as the beau of the ball stepped her way? Would he, or wouldn't he ask her to dance?”
3. Ask a 'What if...?' rhetorical question
'What if...?' invites an audience to consider the possibilities of something becoming real. They can be positive somethings or negative, trivial or something that would have a significant impact if it came to pass.
The power of a 'what if...?' rhetorical question as an opener lies in the potency of the images and feelings it triggers. A well-chosen 'what if...?' will immediately have an audience wanting to hear the rest of your speech.
- "What if we don't find a way to successfully manage climate change?"
- "What if we really did solve the affordable housing crisis?"
- "What if questions of race and color ceased to matter?"
- "What if medicines were freely available to everybody who needed them?"
- "What if the person sitting next to you turned, looked into your eyes and said they loved you? Truly. Madly. Deeply."
4. Try a quotation from someone who's impacted your life in some way
To be effective a quotation doesn't have to be the clever quip or snippet of enduring wisdom: a famous quote from a well known person. It's origin could be personal, something someone important in your life said that's remained with you.
For example, my Mother answered all initial wails of outrage, pain or hurt from any of her five children with a command. "Breathe!" That was repeated, interwoven with encouraging asides, until whoever it was, was able to talk clearly and be understood. "It's OK.", she'd say. "Breathe. Come on. You can do it. Breathe. That's it. Keep going. Good."
Or I could use this line from one of my high school reports which read, "...with further maturity she should do well." (Thank you Mr Phillips. Your prediction was right on target.)
Or this from our son aged four as he watched me getting ready for another day of teaching: "When I grow up I'm going to wear pretty dresses and go to school just like you."
5. Use an interesting key fact
Choose an interesting key fact as an attention getting device: one of the most rarely known, or a shocking statistic from the body of your speech to open with.
For example: "Take a guess at what the most powerful and frequently used word is in the English language?
It's not one of those usually thought of candidates. Love? No. Money? Nope. Neither is it any member of your family... Mum, Dad, brother, sister, son, or daughter.
It's a three letter word, so common it's overlooked and taken for granted. 'The'. It's the humble 'the'."
(For more see this BBC article: Is this the most powerful word in the English language?
Or: "Between 2020/21 and 2021/2022, Americans consumed about 11 million metric tons of sugar, up from about 10 million metric tons in 2009/2010. Can you even begin to imagine the size of that sweet white mountain?"
(For more see: US sugar consumption statistics )
6. Share personal stories
Share a personal story related to your specific topic as the beginning of a speech. Done well, it lets the audience know you understand their situation and helps establish your credibility: your right to talk on the subject.
As an example here's the opening of a speech I gave about the impact of suicide on families and friends:
“One fine Spring day I biked home from school and found a policemen guarding our backdoor. Through it came sounds I'll never forget: my quiet Mother screaming. He said, "You can't go in."
I kicked him in the shins and did. It was the 15th of September, three days before my thirteenth birthday and my father was dead. Killed by his own hand. Suicide.”
(If you want to find out more about the speech and read it, it's here: After they're gone . It's an example persuasive speech using the five steps of Monroe's Motivated Sequence.)
7. Rhetorical questions
These are questions that although they are asked, they're never really intended to be answered by anyone other than the person asking them. * Their principal function is to act as a segue, or lead in, to what the person intends to say next. For instance, the first main point of your introduction.
Examples: "What if I were to say to you that there was no such thing as public speaking fear?"
"What do you think the main benefits of being able to speak up in public are?"
* Although there's bound to be someone in your audience who will. Be ready for them, and move on.
8. An empathetic question, aligning yourself with the audience and eliciting a response
These questions bring speaker and audience together, establishing a common ground, a mutual understanding, which is an effective way to ease into a speech. If your question 'works' you'll see heads nodding in agreement.
- "Have you ever experienced the butterflies in your stomach turning into a herd of rampaging elephants, just before you step up to give your presentation?"
- "Have you ever wanted a good day to never end?"
- "How often have you 'lost' your car in the supermarket car park?"
- "How often have you ever wanted to shout, NO? You want me to prepare a new presentation by tomorrow? NO. You want me to stay late, again? NO."
9. It's in the news
Take headlines from what's trending in media you know the audience will be familiar with and see.
Using those that relate to your speech topic as the opening of your speech is a good way to grab the attention of the audience. It shows how relevant and up-to-the-minute the topic is.
For example: "'Death toll soars to 76 in Florida after Hurricane Ian demolished entire communities.' 'Noru became a super typhoon in 6 hours. Scientists say powerful storms are becoming harder to forecast.' 'Hurricane Orlene strengthens into Category 4 storm as it heads toward western Mexico.'
Three front page headlines from CNN just today. Climate change. Let's do what we can."
10. This day in history
If you're giving a speech to celebrate a special birthday or an anniversary, consider using several carefully selected events that occurred on the same day as a speech opening. They could be either funny or serious, depending on the specific purpose of your speech. They're a great way to place the person in a much wider context and often with exalted company.
For example: "What do the 1863 National Thanksgiving Day proclamation by President Abraham Lincoln, National Boyfriend Day, and Gwen Stefani have in common with Joe? Yes, the 3rd of October! It's a great date made better by being Joe's birthday. And we say Gwen is truly privileged to have the same one as him."
11. Issue a challenge
Let the audience know first thing, at the beginning of the speech, what action you expect they'll be able to take by the time your presentation is complete. Then when you come to the final points, repeat the call to action, or challenge, as part of your closing statement.
For example: "I've a challenge for you. That's to sign up for our public speaking course. Right now you may not see yourself doing that. Public speaking? Me? I'd rather have a root canal done, without painkillers. However, by the end of the presentation...well, let's see. There's a first time for everything!"
Use a startling statement, a fact, or a series of facts, to jolt the audience into paying attention.
"Covid. We've had 1.06 million of us die in the US, so far. Today there are nearly 60,00 new cases. More mothers, fathers, friends, colleagues, children – people. People ill. People who might die. So why have we stopped wearing masks?"
For more: Google: Covid stats US
Other speech writing resources
- how to end a speech effectively : explanations with examples showing how to close a speech with impact
- how to write a speech : a detailed guide with examples covering audience analysis, planning, writing oral language, transitions, how to use an outline...
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Planning and Presenting an Informative Speech
In this guide, you can learn about the purposes and types of informative speeches, about writing and delivering informative speeches, and about the parts of informative speeches.
Purposes of Informative Speaking
Informative speaking offers you an opportunity to practice your researching, writing, organizing, and speaking skills. You will learn how to discover and present information clearly. If you take the time to thoroughly research and understand your topic, to create a clearly organized speech, and to practice an enthusiastic, dynamic style of delivery, you can be an effective "teacher" during your informative speech. Finally, you will get a chance to practice a type of speaking you will undoubtedly use later in your professional career.
The purpose of the informative speech is to provide interesting, useful, and unique information to your audience. By dedicating yourself to the goals of providing information and appealing to your audience, you can take a positive step toward succeeding in your efforts as an informative speaker.
Major Types of Informative Speeches
In this guide, we focus on informative speeches about:
These categories provide an effective method of organizing and evaluating informative speeches. Although they are not absolute, these categories provide a useful starting point for work on your speech.
In general, you will use four major types of informative speeches. While you can classify informative speeches many ways, the speech you deliver will fit into one of four major categories.
Speeches about Objects
Speeches about objects focus on things existing in the world. Objects include, among other things, people, places, animals, or products.
Because you are speaking under time constraints, you cannot discuss any topic in its entirety. Instead, limit your speech to a focused discussion of some aspect of your topic.
Some example topics for speeches about objects include: the Central Intelligence Agency, tombstones, surgical lasers, Franklin Delano Roosevelt, the pituitary gland, and lemmings.
To focus these topics, you could give a speech about Franklin Delano Roosevelt and efforts to conceal how he suffered from polio while he was in office. Or, a speech about tombstones could focus on the creation and original designs of grave markers.
Speeches about Processes
Speeches about processes focus on patterns of action. One type of speech about processes, the demonstration speech, teaches people "how-to" perform a process. More frequently, however, you will use process speeches to explain a process in broader terms. This way, the audience is more likely to understand the importance or the context of the process.
A speech about how milk is pasteurized would not teach the audience how to milk cows. Rather, this speech could help audience members understand the process by making explicit connections between patterns of action (the pasteurization process) and outcomes (a safe milk supply).
Other examples of speeches about processes include: how the Internet works (not "how to work the Internet"), how to construct a good informative speech, and how to research the job market. As with any speech, be sure to limit your discussion to information you can explain clearly and completely within time constraints.
Speeches about Events
Speeches about events focus on things that happened, are happening, or will happen. When speaking about an event, remember to relate the topic to your audience. A speech chronicling history is informative, but you should adapt the information to your audience and provide them with some way to use the information. As always, limit your focus to those aspects of an event that can be adequately discussed within the time limitations of your assignment.
Examples of speeches about events include: the 1963 Civil Rights March on Washington, Groundhog's Day, the Battle of the Bulge, the World Series, and the 2000 Presidential Elections.
Speeches about Concepts
Speeches about concepts focus on beliefs, ideas, and theories. While speeches about objects, processes, and events are fairly concrete, speeches about concepts are more abstract. Take care to be clear and understandable when creating and presenting a speech about a concept. When selecting a concept, remember you are crafting an informative speech. Often, speeches about concepts take on a persuasive tone. Focus your efforts toward providing unbiased information and refrain from making arguments. Because concepts can be vague and involved, limit your speech to aspects that can be readily explained and understood within the time limits.
Some examples of topics for concept speeches include: democracy, Taoism, principles of feminism, the philosophy of non-violent protest, and the Big Bang theory.
Strategies for Selecting a Topic
In many cases, circumstances will dictate the topic of your speech. However, if the topic has not been assigned or if you are having difficulty figuring out how to frame your topic as an informative speech,the following may be useful.
Begin by thinking of your interests. If you have always loved art, contemplate possible topics dealing with famous artists, art works, or different types of art. If you are employed, think of aspects of your job or aspects of your employer's business that would be interesting to talk about. While you cannot substitute personal experience for detailed research, your own experience can supplement your research and add vitality to your presentation. Choose one of the items below to learn more about selecting a topic.
Learn More about an Unfamiliar Topic
You may benefit more by selecting an unfamiliar topic that interests you. You can challenge yourself by choosing a topic you'd like to learn about and to help others understand it. If the Buddhist religion has always been an interesting and mysterious topic to you, research the topic and create a speech that offers an understandable introduction to the religion. Remember to adapt Buddhism to your audience and tell them why you think this information is useful to them. By taking this approach, you can learn something new and learn how to synthesize new information for your audience.
Think about Previous Classes
You might find a topic by thinking of classes you have taken. Think back to concepts covered in those classes and consider whether they would serve as unique, interesting, and enlightening topics for the informative speech. In astronomy, you learned about red giants. In history, you learned about Napoleon. In political science, you learned about The Federalist Papers. Past classes serve as rich resources for informative speech topics. If you make this choice, use your class notes and textbook as a starting point. To fully develop the content, you will need to do extensive research and perhaps even a few interviews.
Talk to Others
Topic selection does not have to be an individual effort. Spend time talking about potential topics with classmates or friends. This method can be extremely effective because other people can stimulate further ideas when you get stuck. When you use this method, always keep the basic requirements and the audience in mind. Just because you and your friend think home-brew is a great topic does not mean it will enthrall your audience or impress your instructor. While you talk with your classmates or friends, jot notes about potential topics and create a master list when you exhaust the possibilities. From this list, choose a topic with intellectual merit, originality, and potential to entertain while informing.
Framing a Thesis Statement
Once you settle on a topic, you need to frame a thesis statement. Framing a thesis statement allows you to narrow your topic, and in turns allows you to focus your research in this specific area, saving you time and trouble in the process.
Selecting a topic and focusing it into a thesis statement can be a difficult process. Fortunately, a number of useful strategies are available to you.
Thesis Statement Purpose
The thesis statement is crucial for clearly communicating your topic and purpose to the audience. Be sure to make the statement clear, concise, and easy to remember. Deliver it to the audience and use verbal and nonverbal illustrations to make it stand out.
Strategies For Framing a Thesis Statement
Focus on a specific aspect of your topic and phrase the thesis statement in one clear, concise, complete sentence, focusing on the audience. This sentence sets a goal for the speech. For example, in a speech about art, the thesis statement might be: "The purpose of this speech is to inform my audience about the early works of Vincent van Gogh." This statement establishes that the speech will inform the audience about the early works of one great artist. The thesis statement is worded conversationally and included in the delivery of the speech.
Thesis Statement and Audience
The thesis appears in the introduction of the speech so that the audience immediately realizes the speaker's topic and goal. Whatever the topic may be, you should attempt to create a clear, focused thesis statement that stands out and could be repeated by every member of your audience. It is important to refer to the audience in the thesis statement; when you look back at the thesis for direction, or when the audience hears the thesis, it should be clear that the most important goal of your speech is to inform the audience about your topic. While the focus and pressure will be on you as a speaker, you should always remember that the audience is the reason for presenting a public speech.
Avoid being too trivial or basic for the average audience member. At the same time, avoid being too technical for the average audience member. Be sure to use specific, concrete terms that clearly establish the focus of your speech.
Thesis Statement and Delivery
When creating the thesis statement, be sure to use a full sentence and frame that sentence as a statement, not as a question. The full sentence, "The purpose of this speech is to inform my audience about the early works of Vincent van Gogh," provides clear direction for the speech, whereas the fragment "van Gogh" says very little about the purpose of the speech. Similarly, the question "Who was Vincent van Gogh?" does not adequately indicate the direction the speech will take or what the speaker hopes to accomplish.
If you limit your thesis statement to one distinct aspect of the larger topic, you are more likely to be understood and to meet the time constraints.
Researching Your Topic
As you begin to work on your informative speech, you will find that you need to gather additional information. Your instructor will most likely require that you locate relevant materials in the library and cite those materials in your speech. In this section, we discuss the process of researching your topic and thesis.
Conducting research for a major informative speech can be a daunting task. In this section, we discuss a number of strategies and techniques that you can use to gather and organize source materials for your speech.
Gathering materials can be a daunting task. You may want to do some research before you choose a topic. Once you have a topic, you have many options for finding information. You can conduct interviews, write or call for information from a clearinghouse or public relations office, and consult books, magazines, journals, newspapers, television and radio programs, and government documents. The library will probably be your primary source of information. You can use many of the libraries databases or talk to a reference librarian to learn how to conduct efficient research.
While doing your research, you may want to carry notecards. When you come across a useful passage, copy the source and the information onto the notecard or copy and paste the information. You should maintain a working bibliography as you research so you always know which sources you have consulted and so the process of writing citations into the speech and creating the bibliography will be easier. You'll need to determine what information-recording strategies work best for you. Talk to other students, instructors, and librarians to get tips on conducting efficient research. Spend time refining your system and you will soon be able to focus on the information instead of the record-keeping tasks.
Citing Sources Within Your Speech
Consult with your instructor to determine how much research/source information should be included in your speech. Realize that a source citation within your speech is defined as a reference to or quotation from material you have gathered during your research and an acknowledgement of the source. For example, within your speech you might say: "As John W. Bobbitt said in the December 22, 1993, edition of the Denver Post , 'Ouch!'" In this case, you have included a direct quotation and provided the source of the quotation. If you do not quote someone, you might say: "After the first week of the 1995 baseball season, attendance was down 13.5% from 1994. This statistic appeared in the May 7, 1995, edition of the Denver Post ." Whatever the case, whenever you use someone else's ideas, thoughts, or words, you must provide a source citation to give proper credit to the creator of the information. Failure to cite sources can be interpreted as plagiarism which is a serious offense. Upon review of the specific case, plagiarism can result in failure of the assignment, the course, or even dismissal from the University. Take care to cite your sources and give credit where it is due.
Creating Your Bibliography
As with all aspects of your speech, be sure to check with your instructor to get specific details about the assignment.
Generally, the bibliography includes only those sources you cited during the speech. Don't pad the bibliography with every source you read, saw on the shelf, or heard of from friends. When you create the bibliography, you should simply go through your complete sentence outline and list each source you cite. This is also a good way to check if you have included enough reference material within the speech. You will need to alphabetize the bibiography by authors last name and include the following information: author's name, article title, publication title, volume, date, page number(s). You may need to include additional information; you need to talk with your instructor to confirm the required bibliographical format.
When doing research, use caution in choosing your sources. You need to determine which sources are more credible than others and attempt to use a wide variety of materials. The broader the scope of your research, the more impressive and believable your information. You should draw from different sources (e.g., a variety of magazines-- Time, Newsweek, US News & World Report, National Review, Mother Jones ) as well as different types of sources (i.e., use interviews, newspapers, periodicals, and books instead of just newspapers). The greater your variety, the more apparent your hard work and effort will be. Solid research skills result in increased credibility and effectiveness for the speaker.
Structuring an Informative Speech
Typically, informative speeches have three parts:
In this section, we discuss the three parts of an informative speech, calling attention to specific elements that can enhance the effectiveness of your speech. As a speaker, you will want to create a clear structure for your speech. In this section, you will find discussions of the major parts of the informative speech.
The introduction sets the tone of the entire speech. The introduction should be brief and to-the-point as it accomplishes these several important tasks. Typically, there are six main components of an effective introduction:
Thesis statement, audience adaptation, credibility statement, transition to the body.
As in any social situation, your audience makes strong assumptions about you during the first eight or ten seconds of your speech. For this reason, you need to start solidly and launch the topic clearly. Focus your efforts on completing these tasks and moving on to the real information (the body) of the speech. Typically, there are six main components of an effective introduction. These tasks do not have to be handled in this order, but this layout often yields the best results.
The attention-getter is designed to intrigue the audience members and to motivate them to listen attentively for the next several minutes. There are infinite possibilities for attention-getting devices. Some of the more common devices include using a story, a rhetorical question, or a quotation. While any of these devices can be effective, it is important for you to spend time strategizing, creating, and practicing the attention-getter.
Most importantly, an attention-getter should create curiosity in the minds of your listeners and convince them that the speech will be interesting and useful. The wording of your attention-getter should be refined and practiced. Be sure to consider the mood/tone of your speech; determine the appropriateness of humor, emotion, aggressiveness, etc. Not only should the words get the audiences attention, but your delivery should be smooth and confident to let the audience know that you are a skilled speaker who is prepared for this speech.
The crowd was wild. The music was booming. The sun was shining. The cash registers were ringing.
This story-like re-creation of the scene at a Farm Aid concert serves to engage the audience and causes them to think about the situation you are describing. Touching stories or stories that make audience members feel involved with the topic serve as good attention-getters. You should tell a story with feeling and deliver it directly to the audience instead of reading it off your notecards.
Example Text : One dark summer night in 1849, a young woman in her 20's left Bucktown, Maryland, and followed the North Star. What was her name? Harriet Tubman. She went back some 19 times to rescue her fellow slaves. And as James Blockson relates in a 1984 issue of National Geographic , by the end of her career, she had a $40,000.00 price on her head. This was quite a compliment from her enemies (Blockson 22).
Rhetorical questions are questions designed to arouse curiosity without requiring an answer. Either the answer will be obvious, or if it isn't apparent, the question will arouse curiosity until the presentation provides the answer.
An example of a rhetorical question to gain the audiences attention for a speech about fly-fishing is, "Have you ever stood in a freezing river at 5 o'clock in the morning by choice?"
Example Text: Have you ever heard of a railroad with no tracks, with secret stations, and whose conductors were considered criminals?
A quotation from a famous person or from an expert on your topic can gain the attention of the audience. The use of a quotation immediately launches you into the speech and focuses the audience on your topic area. If it is from a well-known source, cite the author first. If the source is obscure, begin with the quote itself.
Example Text : "No day dawns for the slave, nor is it looked for. It is all night--night forever . . . ." (Pause) This quote was taken from Jermain Loguen, a fugitive who was the son of his Tennessee master and a slave woman.
Making a statement that is unusual to the ears of your listeners is another possibility for gaining their attention.
Example Text : "Follow the drinking gourd. That's what I said, friend, follow the drinking gourd." This phrase was used by slaves as a coded message to mean the Big Dipper, which revealed the North Star, and pointed toward freedom.
You might chose to use tasteful humor which relates to the topic as an effective way to attract the audience both to you and the subject at hand.
Example Text : "I'm feeling boxed in." [PAUSE] I'm not sure, but these may have been Henry "Box" Brown's very words after being placed on his head inside a box which measured 3 feet by 2 feet by 2 1\2 feet for what seemed to him like "an hour and a half." He was shipped by Adams Express to freedom in Philadelphia (Brown 60,92; Still 10).
Another possibility to consider is the use of a factual statistic intended to grab your listener's attention. As you research the topic you've picked, keep your eyes open for statistics that will have impact.
Example Text : Today, John Elway's talents are worth millions, but in 1840 the price of a human life, a slave, was worth $1,000.00.
Example Text : Today I'd like to tell you about the Underground Railroad.
In your introduction, you need to adapt your speech to your audience. To keep audience members interested, tell them why your topic is important to them. To accomplish this task, you need to undertake audience analysis prior to creating the speech. Figure out who your audience members are, what things are important to them, what their biases may be, and what types of subjects/issues appeal to them. In the context of this class, some of your audience analysis is provided for you--most of your listeners are college students, so it is likely that they place some value on education, most of them are probably not bathing in money, and they live in Colorado. Consider these traits when you determine how to adapt to your audience.
As you research and write your speech, take note of references to issues that should be important to your audience. Include statements about aspects of your speech that you think will be of special interest to the audience in the introduction. By accomplishing this task, you give your listeners specific things with which they can identify. Audience adaptation will be included throughout the speech, but an effective introduction requires meaningful adaptation of the topic to the audience.
You need to find ways to get the members of your audience involved early in the speech. The following are some possible options to connect your speech to your audience:
Reference to the Occasion
Consider how the occasion itself might present an opportunity to heighten audience receptivity. Remind your listeners of an important date just passed or coming soon.
Example Text : This January will mark the 130th anniversary of a "giant interracial rally" organized by William Still which helped to end streetcar segregation in the city of Philadelphia (Katz i).
Reference to the Previous Speaker
Another possibility is to refer to a previous speaker to capitalize on the good will which already has been established or to build on the information presented.
Example Text : As Alice pointed out last week in her speech on the Olympic games of the ancient world, history can provide us with fascinating lessons.
The credibility statement establishes your qualifications as a speaker. You should come up with reasons why you are someone to listen to on this topic. Why do you have special knowledge or understanding of this topic? What can the audience learn from you that they couldn't learn from someone else? Credibility statements can refer to your extensive research on a topic, your life-long interest in an issue, your personal experience with a thing, or your desire to better the lives of your listeners by sifting through the topic and providing the crucial information.
Remember that Aristotle said that credibility, or ethos, consists of good sense, goodwill, and good moral character. Create the feeling that you possess these qualities by creatively stating that you are well-educated about the topic (good sense), that you want to help each member of the audience (goodwill), and that you are a decent person who can be trusted (good moral character). Once you establish your credibility, the audience is more likely to listen to you as something of an expert and to consider what you say to be the truth. It is often effective to include further references to your credibility throughout the speech by subtly referring to the traits mentioned above.
Show your listeners that you are qualified to speak by making a specific reference to a helpful resource. This is one way to demonstrate competence.
Example Text : In doing research for this topic, I came across an account written by one of these heroes that has deepened my understanding of the institution of slavery. Frederick Douglass', My Bondage and My Freedom, is the account of a man whose master's kindness made his slavery only more unbearable.
Your listeners want to believe that you have their best interests in mind. In the case of an informative speech, it is enough to assure them that this will be an interesting speech and that you, yourself, are enthusiastic about the topic.
Example Text : I hope you'll enjoy hearing about the heroism of the Underground Railroad as much as I have enjoyed preparing for this speech.
Preview the Main Points
The preview informs the audience about the speech's main points. You should preview every main body point and identify each as a separate piece of the body. The purpose of this preview is to let the audience members prepare themselves for the flow of the speech; therefore, you should word the preview clearly and concisely. Attempt to use parallel structure for each part of the preview and avoid delving into the main point; simply tell the audience what the main point will be about in general.
Use the preview to briefly establish your structure and then move on. Let the audience get a taste of how you will divide the topic and fulfill the thesis and then move on. This important tool will reinforce the information in the minds of your listeners. Here are two examples of a preview:
Simply identify the main points of the speech. Cover them in the same order that they will appear in the body of the presentation.
For example, the preview for a speech about kites organized topically might take this form: "First, I will inform you about the invention of the kite. Then, I will explain the evolution of the kite. Third, I will introduce you to the different types of kites. Finally, I will inform you about various uses for kites." Notice that this preview avoids digressions (e.g., listing the various uses for kites); you will take care of the deeper information within the body of the speech.
Example Text : I'll tell you about motivations and means of escape employed by fugitive slaves.
For example, the preview for a speech about the Pony Express organized chronologically might take this form: "I'll talk about the Pony Express in three parts. First, its origins, second, its heyday, and third, how it came to an end." Notice that this preview avoids digressions (e.g., listing the reasons why the Pony Express came to an end); you will cover the deeper information within the body of the speech.
Example Text : I'll talk about it in three parts. First, its origins, second, its heyday, and third, how it came to an end.
After you accomplish the first five components of the introduction, you should make a clean transition to the body of the speech. Use this transition to signal a change and prepare the audience to begin processing specific topical information. You should round out the introduction, reinforce the excitement and interest that you created in the audience during the introduction, and slide into the first main body point.
Strategic organization helps increase the clarity and effectiveness of your speech. Four key issues are discussed in this section:
Connective devices, references to outside research.
The body contains the bulk of information in your speech and needs to be clearly organized. Without clear organization, the audience will probably forget your information, main points, perhaps even your thesis. Some simple strategies will help you create a clear, memorable speech. Below are the four key issues used in organizing a speech.
Once you settle on a topic, you should decide which aspects of that topic are of greatest importance for your speech. These aspects become your main points. While there is no rule about how many main points should appear in the body of the speech, most students go with three main points. You must have at least two main points; aside from that rule, you should select your main points based on the importance of the information and the time limitations. Be sure to include whatever information is necessary for the audience to understand your topic. Also, be sure to synthesize the information so it fits into the assigned time frame. As you choose your main points, try to give each point equal attention within the speech. If you pick three main points, each point should take up roughly one-third of the body section of your speech.
There are four basic patterns of organization for an informative speech.
- Chronological order
- Spatial order
- Causal order
- Topical order
There are four basic patterns of organization for an informative speech. You can choose any of these patterns based on which pattern serves the needs of your speech.
A speech organized chronologically has main points oriented toward time. For example, a speech about the Farm Aid benefit concert could have main points organized chronologically. The first main point focuses on the creation of the event; the second main point focuses on the planning stages; the third point focuses on the actual performance/concert; and the fourth point focuses on donations and assistance that resulted from the entire process. In this format, you discuss main points in an order that could be followed on a calendar or a clock.
A speech organized spatially has main points oriented toward space or a directional pattern. The Farm Aid speech's body could be organized in spatial order. The first main point discusses the New York branch of the organization; the second main point discusses the Midwest branch; the third main point discusses the California branch of Farm Aid. In this format, you discuss main points in an order that could be traced on a map.
A speech organized causally has main points oriented toward cause and effect. The main points of a Farm Aid speech organized causally could look like this: the first main point informs about problems on farms and the need for monetary assistance; the second main point discusses the creation and implementation of the Farm Aid program. In this format, you discuss main points in an order that alerts the audience to a problem or circumstance and then tells the audience what action resulted from the original circumstance.
A speech organized topically has main points organized more randomly by sub-topics. The Farm Aid speech could be organized topically: the first main point discusses Farm Aid administrators; the second main point discusses performers; the third main point discusses sponsors; the fourth main point discusses audiences. In this format, you discuss main points in a more random order that labels specific aspects of the topic and addresses them in separate categories. Most speeches that are not organized chronologically, spatially, or causally are organized topically.
Within the body of your speech, you need clear internal structure. Connectives are devices used to create a clear flow between ideas and points within the body of your speech--they serve to tie the speech together. There are four main types of connective devices:
Internal previews, internal summaries.
Within the body of your speech, you need clear internal structure. Think of connectives as hooks and ladders for the audience to use when moving from point-to-point within the body of your speech. These devices help re-focus the minds of audience members and remind them of which main point your information is supporting. The four main types of connective devices are:
Transitions are brief statements that tell the audience to shift gears between ideas. Transitions serve as the glue that holds the speech together and allow the audience to predict where the next portion of the speech will go. For example, once you have previewed your main points and you want to move from the introduction to the body of the Farm Aid speech, you might say: "To gain an adequate understanding of the intricacies of this philanthropic group, we need to look at some specific information about Farm Aid. We'll begin by looking at the administrative branch of this massive fund-raising organization."
Internal previews are used to preview the parts of a main point. Internal previews are more focused than, but serve the same purpose as, the preview you will use in the introduction of the speech. For example, you might create an internal preview for the complex main point dealing with Farm Aid performers: "In examining the Farm Aid performers, we must acknowledge the presence of entertainers from different genres of music--country and western, rhythm and blues, rock, and pop." The internal preview provides specific information for the audience if a main point is complex or potentially confusing.
Internal summaries are the reverse of internal previews. Internal summaries restate specific parts of a main point. To internally summarize the main point dealing with Farm Aid performers, you might say: "You now know what types of people perform at the Farm Aid benefit concerts. The entertainers come from a wide range of musical genres--country and western, rhythm and blues, rock, and pop." When using both internal previews and internal summaries, be sure to stylize the language in each so you do not become redundant.
Signposts are brief statements that remind the audience where you are within the speech. If you have a long point, you may want to remind the audience of what main point you are on: "Continuing my discussion of Farm Aid performers . . . "
When organizing the body of your speech, you will integrate several references to your research. The purpose of the informative speech is to allow you and the audience to learn something new about a topic. Additionally, source citations add credibility to your ideas. If you know a lot about rock climbing and you cite several sources who confirm your knowledge, the audience is likely to see you as a credible speaker who provides ample support for ideas.
Without these references, your speech is more like a story or a chance for you to say a few things you know. To complete this assignment satisfactorily, you must use source citations. Consult your textbook and instructor for specific information on how much supporting material you should use and about the appropriate style for source citations.
While the conclusion should be brief and tight, it has a few specific tasks to accomplish:
Re-assert/Reinforce the Thesis
Review the main points, close effectively.
Take a deep breath! If you made it to the conclusion, you are on the brink of finishing. Below are the tasks you should complete in your conclusion:
When making the transition to the conclusion, attempt to make clear distinctions (verbally and nonverbally) that you are now wrapping up the information and providing final comments about the topic. Refer back to the thesis from the introduction with wording that calls the original thesis into memory. Assert that you have accomplished the goals of your thesis statement and create the feeling that audience members who actively considered your information are now equipped with an understanding of your topic. Reinforce whatever mood/tone you chose for the speech and attempt to create a big picture of the speech.
Within the conclusion, re-state the main points of the speech. Since you have used parallel wording for your main points in the introduction and body, don't break that consistency in the conclusion. Frame the review so the audience will be reminded of the preview and the developed discussion of each main point. After the review, you may want to create a statement about why those main points fulfilled the goals of the speech.
Finish strongly. When you close your speech, craft statements that reinforce the message and leave the audience with a clear feeling about what was accomplished with your speech. You might finalize the adaptation by discussing the benefits of listening to the speech and explaining what you think audience members can do with the information.
Remember to maintain an informative tone for this speech. You should not persuade about beliefs or positions; rather, you should persuade the audience that the speech was worthwhile and useful. For greatest effect, create a closing line or paragraph that is artistic and effective. Much like the attention-getter, the closing line needs to be refined and practiced. Your close should stick with the audience and leave them interested in your topic. Take time to work on writing the close well and attempt to memorize it so you can directly address the audience and leave them thinking of you as a well-prepared, confident speaker.
Outlining an Informative Speech
Two types of outlines can help you prepare to deliver your speech. The complete sentence outline provides a useful means of checking the organization and content of your speech. The speaking outline is an essential aid for delivering your speech. In this section, we discuss both types of outlines.
Two types of outlines can help you prepare to deliver your speech. The complete sentence outline provides a useful means of checking the organization and content of your speech. The speaking outline is an essential aid for delivering your speech.
The Complete Sentence Outline
A complete sentence outline may not be required for your presentation. The following information is useful, however, in helping you prepare your speech.
The complete sentence outline helps you organize your material and thoughts and it serves as an excellent copy for editing the speech. The complete sentence outline is just what it sounds like: an outline format including every complete sentence (not fragments or keywords) that will be delivered during your speech.
Writing the Outline
You should create headings for the introduction, body, and conclusion and clearly signal shifts between these main speech parts on the outline. Use standard outline format. For instance, you can use Roman numerals, letters, and numbers to label the parts of the outline. Organize the information so the major headings contain general information and the sub-headings become more specific as they descend. Think of the outline as a funnel: you should make broad, general claims at the top of each part of the outline and then tighten the information until you have exhausted the point. Do this with each section of the outline. Be sure to consult with your instructor about specific aspects of the outline and refer to your course book for further information and examples.
Using the Outline
If you use this outline as it is designed to be used, you will benefit from it. You should start the outline well before your speech day and give yourself plenty of time to revise it. Attempt to have the final, clean copies ready two or three days ahead of time, so you can spend a day or two before your speech working on delivery. Prepare the outline as if it were a final term paper.
The Speaking Outline
Depending upon the assignment and the instructor, you may use a speaking outline during your presentation. The following information will be helpful in preparing your speech through the use of a speaking outline.
This outline should be on notecards and should be a bare bones outline taken from the complete sentence outline. Think of the speaking outline as train tracks to guide you through the speech.
Many speakers find it helpful to highlight certain words/passages or to use different colors for different parts of the speech. You will probably want to write out long or cumbersome quotations along with your source citation. Many times, the hardest passages to learn are those you did not write but were spoken by someone else. Avoid the temptation to over-do the speaking outline; many speakers write too much on the cards and their grades suffer because they read from the cards.
The best strategy for becoming comfortable with a speaking outline is preparation. You should prepare well ahead of time and spend time working with the notecards and memorizing key sections of your speech (the introduction and conclusion, in particular). Try to become comfortable with the extemporaneous style of speaking. You should be able to look at a few keywords on your outline and deliver eloquent sentences because you are so familiar with your material. You should spend approximately 80% of your speech making eye-contact with your audience.
Delivering an Informative Speech
For many speakers, delivery is the most intimidating aspect of public speaking. Although there is no known cure for nervousness, you can make yourself much more comfortable by following a few basic delivery guidelines. In this section, we discuss those guidelines.
The Five-Step Method for Improving Delivery
- Read aloud your full-sentence outline. Listen to what you are saying and adjust your language to achieve a good, clear, simple sentence structure.
- Practice the speech repeatedly from the speaking outline. Become comfortable with your keywords to the point that what you say takes the form of an easy, natural conversation.
- Practice the speech aloud...rehearse it until you are confident you have mastered the ideas you want to present. Do not be concerned about "getting it just right." Once you know the content, you will find the way that is most comfortable for you.
- Practice in front of a mirror, tape record your practice, and/or present your speech to a friend. You are looking for feedback on rate of delivery, volume, pitch, non-verbal cues (gestures, card-usage, etc.), and eye-contact.
- Do a dress rehearsal of the speech under conditions as close as possible to those of the actual speech. Practice the speech a day or two before in a classroom. Be sure to incorporate as many elements as possible in the dress rehearsal...especially visual aids.
It should be clear that coping with anxiety over delivering a speech requires significant advanced preparation. The speech needs to be completed several days beforehand so that you can effectively employ this five-step plan.
Anderson, Thad, & Ron Tajchman. (1994). Informative Speaking. Writing@CSU . Colorado State University. https://writing.colostate.edu/guides/guide.cfm?guideid=52
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8 Effective Introductions and Powerful Conclusions
- Identify the functions of introductions and conclusions.
- Understand the key parts of an introduction and a conclusion.
- Explore techniques to create your own effective introductions and conclusions.
Introductions and conclusions can be challenging. One of the most common complaints novice public speakers have is that they simply don’t know how to start or end a speech. It may feel natural to start crafting a speech at the beginning, but it can be difficult to craft an introduction for something which doesn’t yet exist. Many times, creative and effective ideas for how to begin a speech will come to speakers as they go through the process of researching and organizing ideas. Similarly, a conclusion needs to be well considered and leave audience members with a sense of satisfaction.
In this chapter, we will explore why introductions and conclusions are important, and we will identify various ways speakers can create impactful beginnings and endings. There is not a “right” way to start or end a speech, but we can provide some helpful guidelines that will make your introductions and conclusions much easier for you as a speaker and more effective for your audience.
The Importance of an Introduction
The introduction of a speech is incredibly important because it needs to establish the topic and purpose, set up the reason your audience should listen to you and set a precedent for the rest of the speech. Imagine the first day of a semester long class. You will have a different perception of the course if the teacher is excited, creative and clear about what is to come then if the teacher recites to you what the class is about and is confused or disorganized about the rest of the semester. The same thing goes for a speech. The introduction is an important opportunity for the speaker to gain the interest and trust of the audience.
Overall, an effective introduction serves 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 get them interested in what you have to say. While your audience may know you, this is your speeches’ first impression! One common incorrect assumption beginning speakers make 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 and care about what you are saying is a completely different challenge. Think to a time when you’ve tuned out a speaker because you were not interested in what they had to say or how they were saying it. However, I’m sure you can also think of a time someone engaged you in a topic you wouldn’t have thought was interesting, but because of how they presented it or their energy about the subject, you were fascinated. As the speaker, you have the ability to engage the audience right away.
State the Purpose of Your Speech
The second major function of an introduction is to reveal the purpose of your speech to your audience. Have you ever sat through a speech wondering what the basic point was? Have you ever come away after a speech and had no idea what the speaker was talking about? An introduction is critical for explaining the topic to the audience and justifying why they should care about it. The speaker needs to have an in-depth understanding of the specific focus of their topic and the goals they have for their speech. Robert Cavett, the founder of the National Speaker’s Association, used the analogy of a preacher giving a sermon when he noted, “When it’s foggy in the pulpit, it’s cloudy in the pews.” The specific purpose is the one idea you want your audience to remember when you are finished with your speech. Your specific purpose is the rudder that guides your research, organization, and development of main points. The more clearly focused your purpose is, the easier it will be both for you to develop your speech and your audience to understand your core point. To make sure you are developing a specific purpose, you should be able to complete the sentence: “I want my audience to understand…” Notice that your specific speech purpose is phrased in terms of expected audience responses, not in terms of your own perspective.
One of the most researched areas within the field of communication has been Aristotle’s concept of ethos or credibility. First, and foremost, the idea of credibility relates directly to audience perception. 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 to them. As public speakers, we need to communicate 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.
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 the audience does not perceive a speaker as trustworthy, the information coming out of the speaker’s mouth is automatically perceived as deceitful.
Finally, caring/goodwill is the last 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 indicated 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 understanding 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.
Credibility relates directly to audience perception. 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 to them.
Trustworthiness is the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as honest.
Caring/goodwill is the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as caring about the audience member.
Provide Reasons to Listen
The fourth major 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. 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.
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 help a speaker’s credibility. It also helps your audience keep track of where you are if they momentarily daydream or get distracted.
Putting Together a Strong Introduction
Now that we have an understanding of the functions of an introduction, let’s explore the details of putting one together. As with all aspects of a speech, these may change based on your audience, circumstance, and topic. But this will give you a basic understanding of the important parts of an intro, what they do, and how they work together.
Attention Getting Device
An attention-getter is the device a speaker uses at the beginning of a speech to capture an audience’s interest and make them interested in the speech’s topic. Typically, there are four things to consider in choosing a specific attention-getting device:
- Topic and purpose of the speech
- Appropriateness or relevance to the audience
First, when selecting an attention-getting device is considering your speech topic and purpose. Ideally, your attention-getting device should have a relevant connection to your speech. Imagine if a speaker pulled condoms out of his pocket, yelled “Free sex!” and threw the condoms at the audience. This act might gain everyone’s attention, but would probably not be a great way to begin a speech about the economy. Thinking about your topic because the interest you want to create needs to be specific to your subject. More specifically, you want to consider the basic purpose of your speech. When selecting an attention getter, you want to make sure that you select one that corresponds with your basic purpose. If your goal is to entertain an audience, starting a speech with a quotation about how many people are dying in Africa each day from malnutrition may not be the best way to get your audience’s attention. Remember, one of the 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 the disjointedness may cause your audience to become confused or tune you out completely.
Possible Attention Getters
These will help you start brainstorming ideas for how to begin your speech. While not a complete list, these are some of the most common forms of attention-getters:
- Reference to Current Events
- Historical Reference
- Startling Fact
- Rhetorical Question
- Hypothetical Situation
- Personal Reference
- Reference to Audience
- Reference to Occasion
Second, when selecting an attention-getting device, you want to make sure you are being appropriate and relevant to your specific audience. Different audiences will have different backgrounds and knowledge, so you should keep your audience in mind when determining how to get their attention. For example, if you’re giving a speech on family units to a group of individuals over the age of sixty-five, starting your speech with a reference to the television show Gossip Girl may not be the best idea because the television show may not be relevant to that audience.
Finally, the last consideration involves the speech occasion. Different occasions will necessitate different tones or particular styles or manners of speaking. For example, giving a eulogy at a funeral will have a very different feel than a business presentation. This understanding doesn’t mean certain situations are always the same, but rather taking into account the details of your circumstances will help you craft an effective beginning to your speech. When selecting an attention-getter, you want to make sure that the attention-getter sets the tone for the speech and situation.
Tones are particular styles or manners of speaking determined by the speech’s occasion.
Link to Topic
The link to the topic occurs when a speaker demonstrates how an attention-getting device relates to the topic of a speech. This presentation of the relationship works to transition your audience from the attention getter to the larger issue you are discussing. Often the attention-getter and the link to the topic are very clear. But other times, there may need to be a more obvious connection between how you began your attention-getting device and the specific subject you are discussing. You may have an amazing attention-getter, but if you can’t connect it to the main topic and purpose of your speech, it will not be as effective.
Once you have linked an attention-getter to the topic of your speech, you need to explain to your audience why your topic is important and why they should care about what you have to say. Sometimes you can include the significance of your topic in the same sentence as your link to the topic, but other times you may need to spell out in one or two sentences why your specific topic is important to this audience.
A thesis statement is a short, declarative sentence that states the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech. A strong, clear thesis statement is very valuable within an introduction because it lays out the basic goal of the entire speech. We strongly believe that it is worthwhile to invest some time in framing and writing a good thesis statement. You may even want to write a version of your thesis statement before you even begin conducting research for your speech in order to guide you. While you may end up rewriting your thesis statement later, having a clear idea of your purpose, intent, or main idea before you start searching for research will help you focus on the most appropriate material.
Preview of Speech
The final part of an introduction contains a preview of the major points to be covered by your speech. I’m sure we’ve all seen signs that have three cities listed on them with the mileage to reach each city. This mileage sign is an indication of what is to come. A preview works the same way. A preview foreshadows what the main body points will be in the speech. For example, to preview a speech on bullying in the workplace, one could say, “To understand the nature of bullying in the modern workplace, I will first define what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying, I will then discuss the common characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets, and lastly, I will explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.” In this case, each of the phrases mentioned in the preview would be a single distinct point made in the speech itself. In other words, the first major body point in this speech would examine what workplace bullying is and the types of bullying; the second major body point in this speech would discuss the characteristics of both workplace bullies and their targets; and lastly, the third body point in this speech would explore some possible solutions to workplace bullying.
Putting it all together
The importance of introductions often leads speakers to work on them first, attending to every detail. While it is good to have some ideas and notes about the intro, specifically the thesis statement, it is often best to wait until the majority of the speech is crafted before really digging into the crafting of the introduction. This timeline may not seem intuitive, but remember, the intro is meant to introduce your speech and set up what is to come. It is difficult to introduce something that you haven’t made yet. This is why working on your main points first can help lead to an even stronger introduction.
Why Conclusions Matter
Willi Heidelbach – Puzzle2 – CC BY 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 chapter, 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 and helps your listeners remember your speech.
Signals the End
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 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. In the next section, we’ll explain in great detail about how to ensure that you signal the end of your speech in a manner that is both effective and powerful.
Aids Audience’s Memory of Your Speech
The second reason for a good conclusion stems out of some research reported by the German psychologist Hermann Ebbinghaus back in 1885 in his book Memory: A Contribution to Experimental Psychology (Ebbinghaus, 1885). Ebbinghaus proposed that humans remember information in a linear fashion, which he called the serial 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 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.
Steps of a Conclusion
Matthew Culnane – Steps – CC BY-SA 2.0.
In the previous sections, we discussed the importance a conclusion has on a speech. In this section, we’re going to examine the three steps to building an effective conclusion.
Restatement of the Thesis
Restating a thesis statement is the first step to a powerful conclusion. As we explained earlier, a thesis statement is a short, declarative sentence that states the purpose, intent, or main idea of a speech. When we restate the thesis statement at the conclusion of our speech, we’re attempting to reemphasize what the overarching main idea of the speech has been. Suppose your thesis statement was, “I will analyze Barack Obama’s use of lyricism in his July 2008 speech, ‘A World That Stands as One.’” You could restate the thesis in this fashion at the conclusion of your speech: “In the past few minutes, I have analyzed Barack Obama’s use of lyricism in his July 2008 speech, ‘A World That Stands as One.’” Notice the shift in tense. The statement has gone from the future tense (this is what I will speak about) to the past tense (this is what I have spoken about). Restating the thesis in your conclusion reminds the audience of the main purpose or goal of your speech, helping them remember it better.
Review of Main Points
After restating the speech’s thesis, the second step in a powerful conclusion is to review the main points from your speech. One of the biggest differences between written and oral communication is the necessity of repetition in oral communication. 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 review the main points in the conclusion, we increase the likelihood that the audience will retain our main points after the speech is over.
In the introduction of a speech, we deliver a preview of our main body points, and in the conclusion, we deliver a review . Let’s look at a sample preview:
In order to understand the field of gender and communication, I will first differentiate between the terms biological sex and gender. I will then explain the history of gender research in communication. Lastly, I will examine a series of important findings related to gender and communication.
In this preview, we have three clear main points. Let’s see how we can review them at the conclusion of our speech:
Today, we have differentiated between the terms biological sex and gender, examined the history of gender research in communication, and analyzed a series of research findings on the topic.
In the past few minutes, I have explained the difference between the terms “biological sex” and “gender,” discussed the rise of gender research in the field of communication, and examined a series of groundbreaking studies in the field.
Notice that both of these conclusions review the main points initially set forth. Both variations are equally effective reviews of the main points, but you might like the linguistic turn of one over the other. Remember, while there is a lot of science to help us understand public speaking, there’s also a lot of art as well. You are always encouraged to choose the wording that you think will be most effective for your audience.
The final part of a powerful conclusion is the concluding device. A concluding device is a final thought you want your audience members to have when you stop speaking. It also provides a definitive sense of closure to your speech. One of the authors of this text often makes an analogy between a gymnastics dismount and the concluding device in a speech. Just as a gymnast dismounting the parallel bars or balance beam wants to stick the landing and avoid taking two or three steps, a speaker wants to “stick” the ending of the presentation by ending with a concluding device instead of with, “Well, umm, I guess I’m done.” Miller observed that speakers tend to use one of ten concluding devices when ending a speech (Miller, 1946). The rest of this section is going to examine these ten concluding devices and one additional device that we have added.
Conclude with a Challenge
The first way that Miller found that some speakers end their speeches is with a challenge. A challenge is a call to engage in some activity that requires a 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 with a Quotation
A second way you can conclude a speech is by reciting a quotation relevant to the speech topic. When using a quotation, you need to think about whether your goal is to end on a persuasive note or an informative note. Some quotations will have a clear call to action, while other quotations summarize or provoke thought. For example, let’s say you are delivering an informative speech about dissident writers in the former Soviet Union. You could end by citing this quotation from Alexander Solzhenitsyn: “A great writer is, so to speak, a second government in his country. And for that reason, no regime has ever loved great writers” (Solzhenitsyn, 1964). Notice that this quotation underscores the idea of writers as dissidents, but it doesn’t ask listeners to put forth the effort to engage in any specific thought process or behavior. If, on the other hand, you were delivering a persuasive speech urging your audience to participate in a very risky political demonstration, you might use this quotation from Martin Luther King Jr.: “If a man hasn’t discovered something that he will die for, he isn’t fit to live” (King, 1963). In this case, the quotation leaves the audience with the message that great risks are worth taking, that they make our lives worthwhile, and that the right thing to do is to go ahead and take that great risk.
Conclude with a Summary
When a speaker ends with a summary, they are simply elongating the review of the main points. While this may not be the most exciting concluding device, it can be useful for information that was highly technical or complex or for speeches lasting longer than thirty minutes. Typically, for short speeches (like those in your class), this summary device should be avoided.
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 with an Appeal for Action
Probably the most common persuasive concluding device is the appeal for action or the call to action. In essence, the appeal for action occurs when a speaker asks their audience to engage in a specific behavior or change in thinking. When a speaker concludes by asking the audience “to do” or “to think” in a specific manner, the speaker wants to see an actual change. Whether the speaker appeals for people to eat more fruit, buy a car, vote for a candidate, oppose the death penalty, or sing more in the shower, the speaker is asking the audience to engage in action.
One specific type of appeal for action is the immediate call to action. Whereas some appeals ask for people to engage in behavior in the future, an immediate call to action asks people to engage in behavior right now. If a speaker wants to see a new traffic light placed at a dangerous intersection, he or she may conclude by asking all the audience members to sign a digital petition right then and there, using a computer the speaker has made available ( http://www.petitiononline.com ). Here are some more examples of immediate calls to action:
- In a speech on eating more vegetables, pass out raw veggies and dip at the conclusion of the speech.
- In a speech on petitioning a lawmaker for a new law, provide audience members with a prewritten e-mail they can send to the lawmaker.
- In a speech on the importance of using hand sanitizer, hand out little bottles of hand sanitizer and show audience members how to correctly apply the sanitizer.
- In a speech asking for donations for a charity, send a box around the room asking for donations.
These are just a handful of different examples we’ve seen students use in our classrooms to elicit an immediate change in behavior. These immediate calls to action may not lead to long-term change, but they can be very effective at increasing the likelihood that an audience will change behavior in the short term.
Conclude by Inspiration
By definition, the word inspire means to affect or connect with someone emotionally. 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 about 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).
Conclude with Advice
The next concluding device is one that should be used primarily by speakers who are recognized as expert authorities on a given subject. Advice is a speaker’s opinion about what should or should not be done. The problem with opinions is that everyone has one, and one person’s opinion is not necessarily any more correct than another’s. There needs to be a really good reason for your opinion. Your advice should matter to your audience. If, for example, you are an expert in nuclear physics, you might conclude a speech on energy by giving advice about the benefits of nuclear energy.
Conclude by Proposing a Solution
Another way a speaker can conclude a speech powerfully is to offer a solution to the problem discussed within a speech. For example, perhaps a speaker has been discussing the problems associated with the disappearance of art education in the United States. The speaker could then propose a solution for creating more community-based art experiences for school children as a way to fill this gap. Although this can be a compelling conclusion, a speaker must ask themselves whether the solution should be discussed in more depth as a stand-alone main point within the body of the speech so that audience concerns about the proposed solution may be addressed.
Conclude with a Question
Another way you can end a speech is to ask a rhetorical question that forces the audience to ponder an idea. Maybe you are giving a speech on the importance of the environment, so you end the speech by saying, “Think about your children’s future. What kind of world do you want them raised in? A world that is clean, vibrant, and beautiful—or one that is filled with smog, pollution, filth, and disease?” Notice that you aren’t asking the audience to verbally or nonverbally answer the question. The goal of this question is to force the audience into thinking about what kind of world they want for their children.
Conclude with a Reference to Audience
The last concluding device discussed by Miller (1946) was a reference to one’s audience. This concluding device is when a speaker attempts to answer the audience question, “What’s in it for me?” The goal of this concluding device is to spell out the direct benefits a behavior or thought change has for audience members. For example, a speaker talking about stress reduction techniques could conclude by 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 spelling out why audience members should care. They’re telling the audience what’s in it for them!
Connect to your Introduction
Finally, one tactic a speaker often uses is to link the introduction of the speech to the conclusion. For example, if you began your speech with a quotation, your conclusion may refer back to that person’s words in respect to what your audience has learned throughout your speech. While not always necessary, linking back to your introduction can provide a feeling of coming full circle for your audience. The repetitive nature can also help aid in remembering your speech and topic. However, you don’t want to just repeat. Instead, you want to utilize similar aspects of your attention getter to illustrate growth or movement from the beginning of your speech to the end.
A concluding device is a final thought you want your audience members to have when you stop speaking.
A challenge is a call to engage in some activity that requires special effort.
An appeal for action occurs when a speaker asks their audience to engage in a specific behavior or change in thinking.
An immediate call to action asks people to engage in behavior right now.
Inspire means to affect or connect with someone emotionally.
Advice is a speaker’s opinion about what should or should not be done.
Informative versus Persuasive Conclusions
As you read through the ten possible ways to conclude a speech, hopefully, you noticed that some of the methods are more appropriate for persuasive speeches and others are more appropriate for informative speeches. To help you choose appropriate conclusions for informative, persuasive, or entertaining speeches, we’ve created a table to help you quickly identify suitable concluding devices.
Your Speech Purpose and Concluding Devices
Ebbinghaus, H. (1885). Memory: A contribution to experimental psychology [Online version]. Retrieved from http://psychclassics.yorku.ca/Ebbinghaus/index.htm .
Ehrensberger, R. (1945). An experimental study of the relative effectiveness of certain forms of emphasis in public speaking. Speech Monographs, 12 , 94–111. doi: 10.1080/03637754509390108.
Kelly, P. (1994). I got flowers today. In C. J. Palmer & J. Palmer, Fire from within . Painted Post, NY: Creative Arts & Science Enterprises.
King, M. L. (1963, June 23). Speech in Detroit. Cited in Bartlett, J., & Kaplan, J. (Eds.), Bartlett’s familiar quotations (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., p. 760.
Miller, E. (1946). Speech introductions and conclusions. Quarterly Journal of Speech, 32 , 181–183.
Solzhenitsyn, A. (1964). The first circle. New York: Harper & Row. Cited in Bartlett, J., & Kaplan, J. (Eds.), Bartlett’s familiar quotations (6th ed.). Boston, MA: Little, Brown & Co., p. 746.
Stand up, Speak out Copyright © 2017 by Josh Miller; Marnie Lawler-Mcdonough; Megan Orcholski; Kristin Woodward; Lisa Roth; and Emily Mueller is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.
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How to write a speech that your audience remembers
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Whether in a work meeting or at an investor panel, you might give a speech at some point. And no matter how excited you are about the opportunity, the experience can be nerve-wracking .
But feeling butterflies doesn’t mean you can’t give a great speech. With the proper preparation and a clear outline, apprehensive public speakers and natural wordsmiths alike can write and present a compelling message. Here’s how to write a good speech you’ll be proud to deliver.
What is good speech writing?
Good speech writing is the art of crafting words and ideas into a compelling, coherent, and memorable message that resonates with the audience. Here are some key elements of great speech writing:
- It begins with clearly understanding the speech's purpose and the audience it seeks to engage.
- A well-written speech clearly conveys its central message, ensuring that the audience understands and retains the key points.
- It is structured thoughtfully, with a captivating opening, a well-organized body, and a conclusion that reinforces the main message.
- Good speech writing embraces the power of engaging content, weaving in stories, examples, and relatable anecdotes to connect with the audience on both intellectual and emotional levels.
Ultimately, it is the combination of these elements, along with the authenticity and delivery of the speaker , that transforms words on a page into a powerful and impactful spoken narrative.
What makes a good speech?
A great speech includes several key qualities, but three fundamental elements make a speech truly effective:
Clarity and purpose
Remembering the audience, cohesive structure.
While other important factors make a speech a home run, these three elements are essential for writing an effective speech.
The main elements of a good speech
The main elements of a speech typically include:
- Introduction: The introduction sets the stage for your speech and grabs the audience's attention. It should include a hook or attention-grabbing opening, introduce the topic, and provide an overview of what will be covered.
- Opening/captivating statement: This is a strong statement that immediately engages the audience and creates curiosity about the speech topics.
- Thesis statement/central idea: The thesis statement or central idea is a concise statement that summarizes the main point or argument of your speech. It serves as a roadmap for the audience to understand what your speech is about.
- Body: The body of the speech is where you elaborate on your main points or arguments. Each point is typically supported by evidence, examples, statistics, or anecdotes. The body should be organized logically and coherently, with smooth transitions between the main points.
- Supporting evidence: This includes facts, data, research findings, expert opinions, or personal stories that support and strengthen your main points. Well-chosen and credible evidence enhances the persuasive power of your speech.
- Transitions: Transitions are phrases or statements that connect different parts of your speech, guiding the audience from one idea to the next. Effective transitions signal the shifts in topics or ideas and help maintain a smooth flow throughout the speech.
- Counterarguments and rebuttals (if applicable): If your speech involves addressing opposing viewpoints or counterarguments, you should acknowledge and address them. Presenting counterarguments makes your speech more persuasive and demonstrates critical thinking.
- Conclusion: The conclusion is the final part of your speech and should bring your message to a satisfying close. Summarize your main points, restate your thesis statement, and leave the audience with a memorable closing thought or call to action.
- Closing statement: This is the final statement that leaves a lasting impression and reinforces the main message of your speech. It can be a call to action, a thought-provoking question, a powerful quote, or a memorable anecdote.
- Delivery and presentation: How you deliver your speech is also an essential element to consider. Pay attention to your tone, body language, eye contact , voice modulation, and timing. Practice and rehearse your speech, and try using the 7-38-55 rule to ensure confident and effective delivery.
While the order and emphasis of these elements may vary depending on the type of speech and audience, these elements provide a framework for organizing and delivering a successful speech.
How to structure a good speech
You know what message you want to transmit, who you’re delivering it to, and even how you want to say it. But you need to know how to start, develop, and close a speech before writing it.
Think of a speech like an essay. It should have an introduction, conclusion, and body sections in between. This places ideas in a logical order that the audience can better understand and follow them. Learning how to make a speech with an outline gives your storytelling the scaffolding it needs to get its point across.
Here’s a general speech structure to guide your writing process:
- Explanation 1
- Explanation 2
- Explanation 3
How to write a compelling speech opener
Some research shows that engaged audiences pay attention for only 15 to 20 minutes at a time. Other estimates are even lower, citing that people stop listening intently in fewer than 10 minutes . If you make a good first impression at the beginning of your speech, you have a better chance of interesting your audience through the middle when attention spans fade.
Implementing the INTRO model can help grab and keep your audience’s attention as soon as you start speaking. This acronym stands for interest, need, timing, roadmap, and objectives, and it represents the key points you should hit in an opening.
Here’s what to include for each of these points:
- Interest : Introduce yourself or your topic concisely and speak with confidence . Write a compelling opening statement using relevant data or an anecdote that the audience can relate to.
- Needs : The audience is listening to you because they have something to learn. If you’re pitching a new app idea to a panel of investors, those potential partners want to discover more about your product and what they can earn from it. Read the room and gently remind them of the purpose of your speech.
- Timing : When appropriate, let your audience know how long you’ll speak. This lets listeners set expectations and keep tabs on their own attention span. If a weary audience member knows you’ll talk for 40 minutes, they can better manage their energy as that time goes on.
- Routemap : Give a brief overview of the three main points you’ll cover in your speech. If an audience member’s attention starts to drop off and they miss a few sentences, they can more easily get their bearings if they know the general outline of the presentation.
- Objectives : Tell the audience what you hope to achieve, encouraging them to listen to the end for the payout.
Writing the middle of a speech
The body of your speech is the most information-dense section. Facts, visual aids, PowerPoints — all this information meets an audience with a waning attention span. Sticking to the speech structure gives your message focus and keeps you from going off track, making everything you say as useful as possible.
Limit the middle of your speech to three points, and support them with no more than three explanations. Following this model organizes your thoughts and prevents you from offering more information than the audience can retain.
Using this section of the speech to make your presentation interactive can add interest and engage your audience. Try including a video or demonstration to break the monotony. A quick poll or survey also keeps the audience on their toes.
Wrapping the speech up
To you, restating your points at the end can feel repetitive and dull. You’ve practiced countless times and heard it all before. But repetition aids memory and learning , helping your audience retain what you’ve told them. Use your speech’s conclusion to summarize the main points with a few short sentences.
Try to end on a memorable note, like posing a motivational quote or a thoughtful question the audience can contemplate once they leave. In proposal or pitch-style speeches, consider landing on a call to action (CTA) that invites your audience to take the next step.
How to write a good speech
If public speaking gives you the jitters, you’re not alone. Roughly 80% of the population feels nervous before giving a speech, and another 10% percent experiences intense anxiety and sometimes even panic.
The fear of failure can cause procrastination and can cause you to put off your speechwriting process until the last minute. Finding the right words takes time and preparation, and if you’re already feeling nervous, starting from a blank page might seem even harder.
But putting in the effort despite your stress is worth it. Presenting a speech you worked hard on fosters authenticity and connects you to the subject matter, which can help your audience understand your points better. Human connection is all about honesty and vulnerability, and if you want to connect to the people you’re speaking to, they should see that in you.
1. Identify your objectives and target audience
Before diving into the writing process, find healthy coping strategies to help you stop worrying . Then you can define your speech’s purpose, think about your target audience, and start identifying your objectives. Here are some questions to ask yourself and ground your thinking :
- What purpose do I want my speech to achieve?
- What would it mean to me if I achieved the speech’s purpose?
- What audience am I writing for?
- What do I know about my audience?
- What values do I want to transmit?
- If the audience remembers one take-home message, what should it be?
- What do I want my audience to feel, think, or do after I finish speaking?
- What parts of my message could be confusing and require further explanation?
2. Know your audience
Understanding your audience is crucial for tailoring your speech effectively. Consider the demographics of your audience, their interests, and their expectations. For instance, if you're addressing a group of healthcare professionals, you'll want to use medical terminology and data that resonate with them. Conversely, if your audience is a group of young students, you'd adjust your content to be more relatable to their experiences and interests.
3. Choose a clear message
Your message should be the central idea that you want your audience to take away from your speech. Let's say you're giving a speech on climate change. Your clear message might be something like, "Individual actions can make a significant impact on mitigating climate change." Throughout your speech, all your points and examples should support this central message, reinforcing it for your audience.
4. Structure your speech
Organizing your speech properly keeps your audience engaged and helps them follow your ideas. The introduction should grab your audience's attention and introduce the topic. For example, if you're discussing space exploration, you could start with a fascinating fact about a recent space mission. In the body, you'd present your main points logically, such as the history of space exploration, its scientific significance, and future prospects. Finally, in the conclusion, you'd summarize your key points and reiterate the importance of space exploration in advancing human knowledge.
5. Use engaging content for clarity
Engaging content includes stories, anecdotes, statistics, and examples that illustrate your main points. For instance, if you're giving a speech about the importance of reading, you might share a personal story about how a particular book changed your perspective. You could also include statistics on the benefits of reading, such as improved cognitive abilities and empathy.
6. Maintain clarity and simplicity
It's essential to communicate your ideas clearly. Avoid using overly technical jargon or complex language that might confuse your audience. For example, if you're discussing a medical breakthrough with a non-medical audience, explain complex terms in simple, understandable language.
7. Practice and rehearse
Practice is key to delivering a great speech. Rehearse multiple times to refine your delivery, timing, and tone. Consider using a mirror or recording yourself to observe your body language and gestures. For instance, if you're giving a motivational speech, practice your gestures and expressions to convey enthusiasm and confidence.
8. Consider nonverbal communication
Your body language, tone of voice, and gestures should align with your message . If you're delivering a speech on leadership, maintain strong eye contact to convey authority and connection with your audience. A steady pace and varied tone can also enhance your speech's impact.
9. Engage your audience
Engaging your audience keeps them interested and attentive. Encourage interaction by asking thought-provoking questions or sharing relatable anecdotes. If you're giving a speech on teamwork, ask the audience to recall a time when teamwork led to a successful outcome, fostering engagement and connection.
10. Prepare for Q&A
Anticipate potential questions or objections your audience might have and prepare concise, well-informed responses. If you're delivering a speech on a controversial topic, such as healthcare reform, be ready to address common concerns, like the impact on healthcare costs or access to services, during the Q&A session.
By following these steps and incorporating examples that align with your specific speech topic and purpose, you can craft and deliver a compelling and impactful speech that resonates with your audience.
Tools for writing a great speech
There are several helpful tools available for speechwriting, both technological and communication-related. Here are a few examples:
- Word processing software: Tools like Microsoft Word, Google Docs, or other word processors provide a user-friendly environment for writing and editing speeches. They offer features like spell-checking, grammar correction, formatting options, and easy revision tracking.
- Presentation software: Software such as Microsoft PowerPoint or Google Slides is useful when creating visual aids to accompany your speech. These tools allow you to create engaging slideshows with text, images, charts, and videos to enhance your presentation.
- Speechwriting Templates: Online platforms or software offer pre-designed templates specifically for speechwriting. These templates provide guidance on structuring your speech and may include prompts for different sections like introductions, main points, and conclusions.
- Rhetorical devices and figures of speech: Rhetorical tools such as metaphors, similes, alliteration, and parallelism can add impact and persuasion to your speech. Resources like books, websites, or academic papers detailing various rhetorical devices can help you incorporate them effectively.
- Speechwriting apps: Mobile apps designed specifically for speechwriting can be helpful in organizing your thoughts, creating outlines, and composing a speech. These apps often provide features like voice recording, note-taking, and virtual prompts to keep you on track.
- Grammar and style checkers: Online tools or plugins like Grammarly or Hemingway Editor help improve the clarity and readability of your speech by checking for grammar, spelling, and style errors. They provide suggestions for sentence structure, word choice, and overall tone.
- Thesaurus and dictionary: Online or offline resources such as thesauruses and dictionaries help expand your vocabulary and find alternative words or phrases to express your ideas more effectively. They can also clarify meanings or provide context for unfamiliar terms.
- Online speechwriting communities: Joining online forums or communities focused on speechwriting can be beneficial for getting feedback, sharing ideas, and learning from experienced speechwriters. It's an opportunity to connect with like-minded individuals and improve your public speaking skills through collaboration.
Remember, while these tools can assist in the speechwriting process, it's essential to use them thoughtfully and adapt them to your specific needs and style. The most important aspect of speechwriting remains the creativity, authenticity, and connection with your audience that you bring to your speech.
5 tips for writing a speech
Behind every great speech is an excellent idea and a speaker who refined it. But a successful speech is about more than the initial words on the page, and there are a few more things you can do to help it land.
Here are five more tips for writing and practicing your speech:
1. Structure first, write second
If you start the writing process before organizing your thoughts, you may have to re-order, cut, and scrap the sentences you worked hard on. Save yourself some time by using a speech structure, like the one above, to order your talking points first. This can also help you identify unclear points or moments that disrupt your flow.
2. Do your homework
Data strengthens your argument with a scientific edge. Research your topic with an eye for attention-grabbing statistics, or look for findings you can use to support each point. If you’re pitching a product or service, pull information from company metrics that demonstrate past or potential successes.
Audience members will likely have questions, so learn all talking points inside and out. If you tell investors that your product will provide 12% returns, for example, come prepared with projections that support that statement.
3. Sound like yourself
Memorable speakers have distinct voices. Think of Martin Luther King Jr’s urgent, inspiring timbre or Oprah’s empathetic, personal tone . Establish your voice — one that aligns with your personality and values — and stick with it. If you’re a motivational speaker, keep your tone upbeat to inspire your audience . If you’re the CEO of a startup, try sounding assured but approachable.
As you practice a speech, you become more confident , gain a better handle on the material, and learn the outline so well that unexpected questions are less likely to trip you up. Practice in front of a colleague or friend for honest feedback about what you could change, and speak in front of the mirror to tweak your nonverbal communication and body language .
5. Remember to breathe
When you’re stressed, you breathe more rapidly . It can be challenging to talk normally when you can’t regulate your breath. Before your presentation, try some mindful breathing exercises so that when the day comes, you already have strategies that will calm you down and remain present . This can also help you control your voice and avoid speaking too quickly.
How to ghostwrite a great speech for someone else
Ghostwriting a speech requires a unique set of skills, as you're essentially writing a piece that will be delivered by someone else. Here are some tips on how to effectively ghostwrite a speech:
- Understand the speaker's voice and style : Begin by thoroughly understanding the speaker's personality, speaking style, and preferences. This includes their tone, humor, and any personal anecdotes they may want to include.
- Interview the speaker : Have a detailed conversation with the speaker to gather information about their speech's purpose, target audience, key messages, and any specific points they want to emphasize. Ask for personal stories or examples they may want to include.
- Research thoroughly : Research the topic to ensure you have a strong foundation of knowledge. This helps you craft a well-informed and credible speech.
- Create an outline : Develop a clear outline that includes the introduction, main points, supporting evidence, and a conclusion. Share this outline with the speaker for their input and approval.
- Write in the speaker's voice : While crafting the speech, maintain the speaker's voice and style. Use language and phrasing that feel natural to them. If they have a particular way of expressing ideas, incorporate that into the speech.
- Craft a captivating opening : Begin the speech with a compelling opening that grabs the audience's attention. This could be a relevant quote, an interesting fact, a personal anecdote, or a thought-provoking question.
- Organize content logically : Ensure the speech flows logically, with each point building on the previous one. Use transitions to guide the audience from one idea to the next smoothly.
- Incorporate engaging stories and examples : Include anecdotes, stories, and real-life examples that illustrate key points and make the speech relatable and memorable.
- Edit and revise : Edit the speech carefully for clarity, grammar, and coherence. Ensure the speech is the right length and aligns with the speaker's time constraints.
- Seek feedback : Share drafts of the speech with the speaker for their feedback and revisions. They may have specific changes or additions they'd like to make.
- Practice delivery : If possible, work with the speaker on their delivery. Practice the speech together, allowing the speaker to become familiar with the content and your writing style.
- Maintain confidentiality : As a ghostwriter, it's essential to respect the confidentiality and anonymity of the work. Do not disclose that you wrote the speech unless you have the speaker's permission to do so.
- Be flexible : Be open to making changes and revisions as per the speaker's preferences. Your goal is to make them look good and effectively convey their message.
- Meet deadlines : Stick to agreed-upon deadlines for drafts and revisions. Punctuality and reliability are essential in ghostwriting.
- Provide support : Support the speaker during their preparation and rehearsal process. This can include helping with cue cards, speech notes, or any other materials they need.
Remember that successful ghostwriting is about capturing the essence of the speaker while delivering a well-structured and engaging speech. Collaboration, communication, and adaptability are key to achieving this.
Give your best speech yet
Learn how to make a speech that’ll hold an audience’s attention by structuring your thoughts and practicing frequently. Put the effort into writing and preparing your content, and aim to improve your breathing, eye contact , and body language as you practice. The more you work on your speech, the more confident you’ll become.
The energy you invest in writing an effective speech will help your audience remember and connect to every concept. Remember: some life-changing philosophies have come from good speeches, so give your words a chance to resonate with others. You might even change their thinking.
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How to Write a Speech: Top Tips
Table of Contents
9 engaging speech writing tips, what are the different speech types , how to find help writing a speech.
A great speech is impactful and engaging. It should eloquently and clearly express your ideas.
Whatever the topic, a good speech should showcase your authority on a topic and demonstrate excellent communication and leadership skills.
Many people don't know how to write a speech, so the process seems daunting. But there are a few best practices and tips that can make the writing process easier.
In this article, we’ll discuss some best practices to help you write an effective speech that engages and captures your audience.
Public speaking can be nerve-racking. However, having a well-written speech can decrease some of that anxiety.
Even if you’ve never written a speech before, there are still best practices you can follow.
An engaging speech should be clear, to the point, and follow a logical order. But how do you ensure your speech follows these criteria? Follow these nine engaging speech writing tips.
Know Your Audience
Analyze your target audience to improve the effectiveness of your speech because different audiences will have different expectations.
Consider your audience’s age, level of understanding, attitudes, and what they expect to take away from your speech, then tailor your message accordingly.
For example, if your audience members are teenagers, it’s unlikely that references to the ’70s will be effective.
Start With a Clear Purpose
Decide on the main point of your speech, and make sure all your content supports that point. Choose a topic that fits the following criteria:
A topic that is relevant to your audience
A topic you’re excited about
A topic you have reasonable knowledge about
Organize Your Ideas
Use a speech outline to organize your thoughts and ideas logically.
Identify the introduction, body, and conclusion of your speech to help you stay focused and make your speech easier to follow.
Use Strong, Clear Language
Choose your words carefully, and use simple language that is easy to understand. Avoid jargon or technical terms that your audience may not be familiar with.
Again, your word choice will depend on your audience. For example, you’ll want to steer clear of slang when speaking to an older, conservative crowd.
Speech transitions are words and phrases that allow you to move smoothly from one point to another. Use transitional words and phrases like “besides” to help your audience follow your thought process and understand how your points are connected.
Add Variety to Speech
A speech that is monotonous or lacks variety may cause your audience to lose interest.
Including a variety of elements in your speech, such as anecdotes, examples, and visual aids, can help keep your audience engaged and interested.
Practice, Practice, Practice
Practice your speech out loud to ensure it flows well and you’re comfortable with the material. Read your speech in front of the mirror or before someone you trust to give you critical feedback. Note the points for improvement, and incorporate them into how you deliver your speech.
End With a Strong Conclusion
How would you like to leave your audience members: inspired, informed, or mesmerized? Aim to end your speech on a high note. Summarize your main points, and leave your audience with a memorable takeaway.
Edit and Revise
Proofread and revise your speech to ensure it’s well written and error free. Use a grammar checker, such as ProWritingAid, to correct any grammar issues. You’ll also get suggestions on how to improve your sentence structures and transitions.
How to Write a Good Speech Introduction
The introduction can make or break your speech. It’s where you grab your audience’s attention to keep them engaged and state the purpose of your speech.
An introduction also gives you the opportunity to establish your credibility. You should aim to give your audience a reason to listen to the rest of the speech rather than tuning out.
Here are some tips on how to create a positive first impression.
Start With a Hook
Begin your introduction with a hook that will grab your audience’s attention and make them want to listen. There are several options for a hook:
A personal anecdote
Reference to a current or historical event
When thinking of an attention grabber, consider how appropriate and relevant it is to your audience and the purpose of the speech. For example, if you’re giving a speech to an older audience, you can make a historical reference that they can easily relate to.
Provide context by giving your audience some background information about the topic of your speech. This will help them understand the importance of what you are talking about and why they should care.
State Your Thesis
Clearly and concisely state the main point or purpose of your speech. Your thesis should be easy to follow and clearly outline the main argument and your stance. This will give your audience a clear understanding of what they can expect to learn from your presentation.
Preview Your Main Points
Give your audience a sense of the structure of your speech by briefly outlining the key points or arguments you will be making. They’ll know what to expect, and your speech will be easier to follow.
Keep It Short
Your introduction should be concise and to the point, so don’t spend too much time on it. It’s important to keep your speech brief, and avoid including unnecessary or unrelated information.
The goal is to engage and interest your audience, not bore them, so aim for a few well-chosen words rather than a lengthy introduction. Aim for your introduction to be about 10-15% of the total length of your speech.
A speech is just like any other piece of writing. You’ll need to identify your purpose, audience, and intention and then write accordingly. There are many types of speeches, and each type has its own expectations.
Let’s look at some of the most popular speeches and how to write them.
How to Write a Short Speech
Short speeches may be the most tedious to write because of how condensed and concise the information has to be. However, if you ever have to give a farewell, birthday tribute, or just a quick welcome, there are still some tips available to make your speech great.
Start by identifying your topic, title, and the purpose of your speech, which will set the foundation of your outline. Then, determine the main points of your speech; keep it short with two to three points. Remember, a short speech is typically less than ten minutes long, so keep your points concise and to the point.
Since you have limited time to make the most impact, incorporate powerful words or other engaging elements. For example, you could throw out a thought-provoking question or anecdote, which will grab your audience’s attention and keep them engaged.
Finally, once you’ve written your speech, review it for brevity and clarity.
Be confident about grammar
Check every email, essay, or story for grammar mistakes. Fix them before you press send.
How to Write a Presentation Speech
A presentation speech is used to inform, persuade, explain, or demonstrate a particular topic.
Presentation speeches are well structured and follow a logical flow. They have an introduction, body, and conclusion. Use transition words and phrases to help your speech flow smoothly and prevent it from appearing disjointed.
You can use ProWritingAid to organize your speech and make it even clearer. ProWritingAid’s transition report will show you whether you’re using transitions effectively in your speech.
How to Write a Debate Speech
A debate is a formal argument on a particular topic. Debate speeches are persuasive since the aim is to convince the audience to agree with a stance.
Like most other speeches, a debate speech also follows the introduction, body, conclusion outline. This format helps the audience follow the speaker’s point in a linear and logical way.
When writing your introduction, clarify your stance so it’s clear to the audience. Anyone reading or listening to your speech shouldn’t have any doubt about your position on the topic. Take some time to prepare a solid opener, which can be an interesting fact, a personal story, or even a powerful quote.
The introduction also gives you the opportunity to explain terms your audience will need to understand throughout the speech. You should also provide an overview of your main points, but don’t spend long divulging too much.
Each body paragraph should cover a main point, whether that’s a key idea or a main claim, and each paragraph should begin with a topic sentence. The topic sentence is an initial sentence that summarizes the idea being presented.
Your conclusion should be a simple and clear reiteration of the points you made in the thesis statement and body paragraphs. Add an attention-grabbing element to leave a lasting impression on your audience.
Remember to use strong and emotive language throughout your speech, which makes it more likely for your audience to feel emotionally connected to your stance.
Always use transition words and phrases to maintain a logical flow between your arguments. Finally, edit and proofread your work for any potential grammar, punctuation, or spelling mistakes.
How to Write an Elevator Speech
An elevator speech is a brief speech that’s used to pitch a product, service, expertise, or credentials.
You have 30–60 seconds to persuade someone to act how you’d like: the same time as a quick elevator ride.
An effective elevator speech should contain an introduction, a clear value proposition, and a strong conclusion.
Your introduction should be polite and clear. Briefly explain who you are, what you do, and what you are offering. For example, if you’re pitching your expertise, condense your background into two sentences. Include things that will make your audience remember you.
End your speech with what you want to achieve. What are you trying to accomplish with this speech? Perhaps it’s a job opportunity, a follow-up meeting, or an internship.
Once you’ve written your speech, be sure to revise it for brevity. Then practice and record yourself to ensure you don’t go over the time limit.
Writing a good speech takes time, but these tips are a good start to improving your speech-writing process. If you encounter writer’s block, look up popular speeches for inspiration. Ask someone you trust to give you feedback once you’ve written your speech.
Finally, while ProWritingAid can’t write your speech for you, it can help you write in a cohesive and logical manner. It highlights any grammar, spelling, and punctuation issues. It also shows you suggestions on how to improve your sentence structure, transition, pacing, and readability, so your next speech can be impactful and memorable.
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5 Tips on How to Write a Speech Essay
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When figuring out how to write a speech, the essay form can offer a good foundation for the process. Just like essays, all speeches have three main sections: the introduction, the body, and the conclusion.
However, unlike essays, speeches must be written to be heard as opposed to being read. You need to write a speech in a way that keeps the attention of an audience and helps paint a mental image at the same time. This means that your speech should contain some color, drama, or humor . It should have “flair.” Make your speech memorable by using attention-grabbing anecdotes and examples.
Determine the Type of Speech You're Writing
Since there are different types of speeches, your attention-grabbing techniques should fit the speech type.
Informative and instructional speeches inform your audience about a topic, event, or area of knowledge. This can be a how-to on podcasting for teens or a historical report on the Underground Railroad. It also can relate to health and beauty, such as "How to Shape Perfect Eyebrows," or hobby-related, such as "Make a Great Bag Out of Old Clothing."
Persuasive speeches attempt to convince or persuade the audience to join one side of an argument. You might write a speech about a life choice, such as, "Abstinence Can Save Your Life," or getting involved in the community, such as "The Benefits of Volunteering."
Entertaining speeches entertain your audience, and topics may not practical. Your speech topic could be something like, "Life Is Like a Dirty Dorm," or "Can Potato Peels Predict the Future?"
Special occasion speeches entertain or inform your audience, like graduation speeches and toasts at celebrations.
Explore the different types of speeches and decide what speech type fits your assignment.
Craft a Creative Speech Introduction
Thoughtco.com / Grace Fleming
The introduction of the informative speech should contain an attention-grabber, followed by a statement about your topic. It should end with a strong transition into your body section.
As an example, consider a template for an informative speech called "African-American Heroines." The length of your speech will depend on the amount of time you have been allotted to speak.
The red section of the speech in the graphic provides the attention-grabber. It makes audience members think about what life would be like without civil rights. The last sentence states directly the purpose of the speech and leads into the speech body, which provides more details.
Determine the Flow of the Body of the Speech
Thoughtco.com / Grace Fleming
The body of your speech can be organized in a number of ways, depending on your topic. Suggested organization patterns include:
- Chronological: Provides the order of events in time;
- Spatial: Gives an overview of physical arrangement or design;
- Topical: Presents information one subject at a time;
- Causal: Shows cause-and-effect pattern.
The speech pattern illustrated in the image in this slide is topical. The body is divided into sections that address different people (different topics). Speeches typically include three sections (topics) in the body. This speech would continue with a third section about Susie King Taylor.
Writing a Memorable Speech Conclusion
The conclusion of your speech should restate the main points you covered in your speech and end with a memorable statement. In the sample in this graphic, the red section restates the overall message you wanted to convey: that the three women you've mentioned had strength and courage, despite the odds they faced.
The quote is an attention-grabber since it is written in colorful language. The blue section ties the entire speech together with a small twist.
Address These Key Objectives
Whatever type of speech you decide to write, find ways to make your words memorable. Those elements include:
- Clever quotes
- Amusing stories with a purpose
- Meaningful transitions
- A good ending
The structure of how to write your speech is just the start. You'll also need to finesse the speech a bit. Start by paying attention to your audience and their interests. Write the words you'll speak with passion and enthusiasm, but you also want your listeners to share that enthusiasm. When writing your attention-grabbing statements, make sure you are writing what will get their attention, not just yours.
Study Famous Speeches
Gain inspiration from others' speeches. Read famous speeches and look at the way they are constructed. Find things that stand out and figure out what makes it interesting. Oftentimes, speechwriters use rhetorical devices to make certain points easy to remember and to emphasize them.
Get to the Point Quickly
Remember to begin and end your speech with something that will gain and hold the attention of your audience. If you spend too much time getting into your speech, people will zone out or start checking their phones. If you get them interested immediately, they will be more likely to stick with you until the end.
Keep It Conversational
How you deliver the speech is also important. When you give the speech , think about the tone you should use, and be sure to write the speech in the same flow that you'd use in conversations. A great way to check this flow is to practice reading it out loud. If you stumble while reading or it feels monotone, look for ways to jazz up the words and improve the flow.
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How to Write and Deliver an Engaging Guest Speaker Introduction
Last Updated: April 3, 2023 Fact Checked
Writing the introduction, delivering the speech, expert q&a.
This article was co-authored by Deb DiSandro and by wikiHow staff writer, Ali Garbacz, B.A. . Deb DiSandro is the Owner of Speak Up On Purpose, an organization dedicated to improving and teaching public speaking. Deb has over 30 years of experience as a national speaker and has presented at the Erma Bombeck Writer’s Conference and the National Society of Newspaper Columnists. She was awarded the National Speakers Association Member of the Year 2007 and has been published in Writer's Digest, Daily Herald, Women's Day, and Better Homes & Gardens. There are 8 references cited in this article, which can be found at the bottom of the page. This article has been fact-checked, ensuring the accuracy of any cited facts and confirming the authority of its sources. This article has been viewed 1,179,761 times.
Introducing a guest speaker is quite an honor. As the introducer, you get the audience excited about the talk they’re about to hear and play a crucial role in connecting the speaker to their audience on a more human level. Writing the perfect introduction speech requires some research and rehearsal on your part, but rest assured that you’ll be left with a speech that’ll leave your audience wanting more. Keep reading for our complete guide to writing the best introduction speech. Also, take a look at the samples we’ve included to get help you get started.
Things You Should Know
- Establish the guest speaker’s credibility by mentioning notable achievements and experiences that relate to the topic of their speech.
- Share a quick anecdote or surprising fact about the guest speaker to paint a picture of their personality and character.
- Get the audience excited for the upcoming presentation with a short sentence stating what the guest speaker will be talking about.
- Wait until the very end to introduce the guest speaker by their full name and title.
Researching the Speaker
- When the speaker provides an introduction for you, use it. Read it over a few times and don’t hesitate to ask them for any clarification if you need it.
- For example, if the speech is about encouraging young girls to learn computer programming, don’t spend time explaining how the speaker can teach these skills to adults.
- Additionally, if the audience is mostly people who work in the education field rather than computer programming, avoid using a lot of jargon specific to computer programming so the audience can follow along better.
- Another method is to ask the speaker for their resume. Use this to pick out their most notable achievements to help establish their credibility.
- A good introduction goes beyond just reciting the speaker’s personal history. However, noting their most relevant and impressive achievements will help establish them as an authoritative figure to the audience.
- Always get the speaker’s permission before using these details. If you need to use this information, have an explanation ready as to why it’s important to your introduction.
- Be careful if you’re using pieces from another speech since it is copyrighted material and can’t be used without the speaker’s permission. Talk directly to the speaker about using these portions, or rephrase the section in your own words.
- “Many don’t know that John Doe originally went to school for law, but ended up choosing psychology instead. Just like many of you, he didn’t have much of an idea of where his life would take him. Little did he know that his legal studies would actually help him to become one of the most renowned therapists we know today.”
- Avoid using overly casual language to refer to the speaker, such as “guy,” “girl,” or “kid.” Instead, use “person,” “woman,” or “man.”
- “Jane’s passion for creative writing goes back to her high school days where she began the draft for her very first novel at the age of 15. By the time she was entering her sophomore year of college at 19 years old, she had already published her first book.”
- “John has received recognition and praise from some of the largest Fortune 500 companies for his dedication to creating curriculums to help strengthen teamwork in the workplace. He’s received multiple awards for his work and has even gone on to write a book sharing his unique insights and perspective.”
- “Jane will tell you exactly how you can manifest every single one of your goals by making just five simple changes in your daily life.”
- “John is here today to share the secret to maximizing your savings so you can live freely without ever having to worry about finances again.”
- “John and I met a few years back and immediately bonded over the struggle of maintaining a healthy work-life balance. I’m sure many of us can relate to this.”
- “Jane’s book on navigating childcare in our current economy struck me at a very deep level. I’ve never read such relatable and honest words, and her work has given me comfort and reassurance during these unpredictable times.”
- For example, you might say, “John Smith’s story working in the lumber industry inspired me to go out and build a cabinet. Unsurprisingly, it fell apart within five minutes of being built. I went back to him, and he was sure to reassure me that it’s a practice that requires much patience.”
- “Please join me in welcoming Dr. John Smith!”
- “Here to discuss her newest book, “How to Live a Happier Life,” please give a warm welcome to Jane Doe.”
- “Here to share his unique perspective on the current political climate, please welcome Professor John Doe.”
- Also, practice using a friendly and relaxed tone when you give your speech to avoid coming off as super stiff and nervous.
- To overcome stage fright , recite the introduction while looking in a mirror. Once you feel comfortable, rehearse it in front of family and friends.
- For example, “Good evening. My name is Alex Brown, and I’m the organizer of this event.”
- If everyone in the audience is familiar with you, there’s no need to introduce yourself.
- Get the speaker’s approval of the introduction you’ve written. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Forget about cliches such as “This person needs no introduction.” Instead, focus on making your introduction unique and descriptive. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
- Ask the speaker to revise a provided introduction if you don’t feel that it’s right for the audience they’ll be presenting to. Thanks Helpful 0 Not Helpful 0
You Might Also Like
- ↑ https://www.dacdb.com/Rotary/Accounts/5110/Downloads/30398/how-to-introduce-a-speaker.pdf
- ↑ https://www.press.umich.edu/pdf/9780472035090-unit1.pdf
- ↑ http://canuwrite.com/speech_introduce.php
- ↑ http://www.write-out-loud.com/introduction-speech.html
- ↑ https://hbr.org/2016/10/how-to-memorably-introduce-another-speaker
- ↑ https://westsidetoastmasters.com/resources/talk_your_way/ch15.html
- ↑ https://publicwords.com/2011/11/26/how-to-introduce-a-speaker-the-art-of-giving-and-receiving-a-great-introduction/
- ↑ http://www.publicwords.com/2011/11/26/how-to-introduce-a-speaker-the-art-of-giving-and-receiving-a-great-introduction/
About This Article
Before introducing your guest speaker, introduce yourself in case there are people in the audience who don't know you. Then talk about the speaker’s background and qualifications, and give the audience a high-level overview of what they might learn from the presentation. See if you can include a short, personal anecdote about the speaker, like "I read their book and really loved it," for example. Try to keep your introduction to less than 3 minutes, and finish it by welcoming your speaker and telling the audience their name. For more advice on introducing a guest speaker, including how to research them in advance, keep reading! Did this summary help you? Yes No
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- How to write an essay introduction | 4 steps & examples
How to Write an Essay Introduction | 4 Steps & Examples
Published on February 4, 2019 by Shona McCombes . Revised on July 23, 2023.
A good introduction paragraph is an essential part of any academic essay . It sets up your argument and tells the reader what to expect.
The main goals of an introduction are to:
- Catch your reader’s attention.
- Give background on your topic.
- Present your thesis statement —the central point of your essay.
This introduction example is taken from our interactive essay example on the history of Braille.
The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability. The writing system of raised dots used by visually impaired people was developed by Louis Braille in nineteenth-century France. In a society that did not value disabled people in general, blindness was particularly stigmatized, and lack of access to reading and writing was a significant barrier to social participation. The idea of tactile reading was not entirely new, but existing methods based on sighted systems were difficult to learn and use. As the first writing system designed for blind people’s needs, Braille was a groundbreaking new accessibility tool. It not only provided practical benefits, but also helped change the cultural status of blindness. This essay begins by discussing the situation of blind people in nineteenth-century Europe. It then describes the invention of Braille and the gradual process of its acceptance within blind education. Subsequently, it explores the wide-ranging effects of this invention on blind people’s social and cultural lives.
Table of contents
Step 1: hook your reader, step 2: give background information, step 3: present your thesis statement, step 4: map your essay’s structure, step 5: check and revise, more examples of essay introductions, other interesting articles, frequently asked questions about the essay introduction.
Your first sentence sets the tone for the whole essay, so spend some time on writing an effective hook.
Avoid long, dense sentences—start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
The hook should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of the topic you’re writing about and why it’s interesting. Avoid overly broad claims or plain statements of fact.
Examples: Writing a good hook
Take a look at these examples of weak hooks and learn how to improve them.
- Braille was an extremely important invention.
- The invention of Braille was a major turning point in the history of disability.
The first sentence is a dry fact; the second sentence is more interesting, making a bold claim about exactly why the topic is important.
- The internet is defined as “a global computer network providing a variety of information and communication facilities.”
- The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education.
Avoid using a dictionary definition as your hook, especially if it’s an obvious term that everyone knows. The improved example here is still broad, but it gives us a much clearer sense of what the essay will be about.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is a famous book from the nineteenth century.
- Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale about the dangers of scientific advancement.
Instead of just stating a fact that the reader already knows, the improved hook here tells us about the mainstream interpretation of the book, implying that this essay will offer a different interpretation.
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Next, give your reader the context they need to understand your topic and argument. Depending on the subject of your essay, this might include:
- Historical, geographical, or social context
- An outline of the debate you’re addressing
- A summary of relevant theories or research about the topic
- Definitions of key terms
The information here should be broad but clearly focused and relevant to your argument. Don’t give too much detail—you can mention points that you will return to later, but save your evidence and interpretation for the main body of the essay.
How much space you need for background depends on your topic and the scope of your essay. In our Braille example, we take a few sentences to introduce the topic and sketch the social context that the essay will address:
Now it’s time to narrow your focus and show exactly what you want to say about the topic. This is your thesis statement —a sentence or two that sums up your overall argument.
This is the most important part of your introduction. A good thesis isn’t just a statement of fact, but a claim that requires evidence and explanation.
The goal is to clearly convey your own position in a debate or your central point about a topic.
Particularly in longer essays, it’s helpful to end the introduction by signposting what will be covered in each part. Keep it concise and give your reader a clear sense of the direction your argument will take.
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As you research and write, your argument might change focus or direction as you learn more.
For this reason, it’s often a good idea to wait until later in the writing process before you write the introduction paragraph—it can even be the very last thing you write.
When you’ve finished writing the essay body and conclusion , you should return to the introduction and check that it matches the content of the essay.
It’s especially important to make sure your thesis statement accurately represents what you do in the essay. If your argument has gone in a different direction than planned, tweak your thesis statement to match what you actually say.
To polish your writing, you can use something like a paraphrasing tool .
You can use the checklist below to make sure your introduction does everything it’s supposed to.
Checklist: Essay introduction
My first sentence is engaging and relevant.
I have introduced the topic with necessary background information.
I have defined any important terms.
My thesis statement clearly presents my main point or argument.
Everything in the introduction is relevant to the main body of the essay.
You have a strong introduction - now make sure the rest of your essay is just as good.
- Literary analysis
This introduction to an argumentative essay sets up the debate about the internet and education, and then clearly states the position the essay will argue for.
The spread of the internet has had a world-changing effect, not least on the world of education. The use of the internet in academic contexts is on the rise, and its role in learning is hotly debated. For many teachers who did not grow up with this technology, its effects seem alarming and potentially harmful. This concern, while understandable, is misguided. The negatives of internet use are outweighed by its critical benefits for students and educators—as a uniquely comprehensive and accessible information source; a means of exposure to and engagement with different perspectives; and a highly flexible learning environment.
This introduction to a short expository essay leads into the topic (the invention of the printing press) and states the main point the essay will explain (the effect of this invention on European society).
In many ways, the invention of the printing press marked the end of the Middle Ages. The medieval period in Europe is often remembered as a time of intellectual and political stagnation. Prior to the Renaissance, the average person had very limited access to books and was unlikely to be literate. The invention of the printing press in the 15th century allowed for much less restricted circulation of information in Europe, paving the way for the Reformation.
This introduction to a literary analysis essay , about Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein , starts by describing a simplistic popular view of the story, and then states how the author will give a more complex analysis of the text’s literary devices.
Mary Shelley’s Frankenstein is often read as a crude cautionary tale. Arguably the first science fiction novel, its plot can be read as a warning about the dangers of scientific advancement unrestrained by ethical considerations. In this reading, and in popular culture representations of the character as a “mad scientist”, Victor Frankenstein represents the callous, arrogant ambition of modern science. However, far from providing a stable image of the character, Shelley uses shifting narrative perspectives to gradually transform our impression of Frankenstein, portraying him in an increasingly negative light as the novel goes on. While he initially appears to be a naive but sympathetic idealist, after the creature’s narrative Frankenstein begins to resemble—even in his own telling—the thoughtlessly cruel figure the creature represents him as.
If you want to know more about AI tools , college essays , or fallacies make sure to check out some of our other articles with explanations and examples or go directly to our tools!
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Your essay introduction should include three main things, in this order:
- An opening hook to catch the reader’s attention.
- Relevant background information that the reader needs to know.
- A thesis statement that presents your main point or argument.
The length of each part depends on the length and complexity of your essay .
The “hook” is the first sentence of your essay introduction . It should lead the reader into your essay, giving a sense of why it’s interesting.
To write a good hook, avoid overly broad statements or long, dense sentences. Try to start with something clear, concise and catchy that will spark your reader’s curiosity.
A thesis statement is a sentence that sums up the central point of your paper or essay . Everything else you write should relate to this key idea.
The thesis statement is essential in any academic essay or research paper for two main reasons:
- It gives your writing direction and focus.
- It gives the reader a concise summary of your main point.
Without a clear thesis statement, an essay can end up rambling and unfocused, leaving your reader unsure of exactly what you want to say.
The structure of an essay is divided into an introduction that presents your topic and thesis statement , a body containing your in-depth analysis and arguments, and a conclusion wrapping up your ideas.
The structure of the body is flexible, but you should always spend some time thinking about how you can organize your essay to best serve your ideas.
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25 Topics for an Informative Speech
- 20th November 2023
Have you been asked to give an informative speech, or do you simply want to practice your public speaking skills ? If the answer to either question is yes, then the first thing you need to do is choose a topic for your speech. But with so many potential topics, how can you pick just one? In this post, we’ve narrowed down 25 topics for an informative speech to help you find the one that works best for you.
Choosing a Topic
Informative speeches aim to educate the audience on a particular subject or industry. Unlike persuasive speeches , informative ones are not meant to convince the listener to believe or act a certain way; they are meant to be purely descriptive and explanatory.
The best topics for informative speeches are engaging, interesting, valuable, and relevant to the target audience . Choose a topic about which you have a comprehensive understanding or one you intend to research substantially. After all, it’s easy to deliver an engaging presentation and educate your audience when you’re extremely knowledgeable about the topic! Next, let’s take a look at 25 interesting topics for an informative speech, organized by subject.
Science and Technology
● The impact of artificial intelligence on society
● Recent advancements in space exploration
● Recent breakthroughs in medical research
● The science behind climate change and its effects
● The evolution of social media
● What is 3D printing?
Health and Wellness
● The effect of regular exercise on overall health
● How sleep impacts brain functioning
● Understanding stress and stress management techniques
● How does sugar impact the body?
● Key figures in the Civil Rights movement
● Significant women in history
● Sculpture of the Renaissance
● A history of fashion in the Victorian era
● An exploration of the Olympics from their beginning
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● The history and impact of open-access education
● An exploration of virtual learning over the past 25 years
● How high schools differ around the world
● A look back at education in 19th-century America and the way it compares to current methods
● The history of homework
The Environment and Sustainability
● How to reduce your carbon footprint
● What is zero-waste living?
● The significance of global water conservation
● The impact of air pollution on public health
● The impact of oil spills on the environment
Tips for Giving an Informative Speech
If you’re giving an informative speech, remember to:
● Do your research! Gather information from credible, authoritative sources when composing your speech. Avoid sources that discuss strictly the opinion of the author and look for solid, factual evidence to support your topic.
● Consider your audience. Do they have at least a baseline knowledge of the topic? The answer to this question will help determine how deep you should go in your explanations and what kind of language to use.
● Organize your ideas . Before you begin writing, create a comprehensive outline that includes the introduction, main ideas, and conclusion.
● Use anecdotes or examples to make your content more engaging and relevant to your audience.
● Anticipate potential questions and jot down notes you can easily refer to.
Here’s one last essential speech writing tip: to ensure a smooth delivery and enhance your writing, have your speech professionally proofread and edited. Our editors can make sure your informative speech effectively conveys your message and engages your audience. Send in your free sample today to get started.
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