The objective of a good speech is to persuade, inform or entertain an audience. To accomplish this, one must have a specific purpose for the speech. This is the main idea or thesis statement and it must be prevalent throughout the speech.
The Purpose of Your Speech
Think about the long hours spent developing an essay in your Comp 101 class. How many free throw shots did you actually make from the many crumbled-up sheets of paper wasted trying to find the right words? Well, if you're anything like me, plenty! But it really didn't need to be that difficult. In fact, if you follow a few simple rules, it can be quite simple.
Before we get to that, let's explore the main idea of a speech. It is the purpose of the speech and is probably the most important thing a speechwriter should think about. Now, once you have come up with the main idea of your speech, you should think about the smaller main points that you want to get across to your audience.
If your desire is to inform your audience, you may want to include factual information that will educate them on a topic. You may want to persuade the audience to accept your opinion. You can focus on compelling testimony or details that convince your audience to agree with you. There are times when you just want to entertain the attendees. In this case, you may interject humor into your speech to simply show people a good time - give them a few laughs.
So, now that we have the main idea down, just how do we develop this idea into smaller main points to keep the speech flowing nicely? Easy!
Using Main Points in a Speech
First, you can brainstorm the main idea or specific purpose of the speech. This involves a group or individual activity where a list of ideas are generated to either solve a problem or to generate new ideas. Let's use an example to help explain.
Suppose you want to write a persuasive speech about the benefits of eating lots of bacon. You can begin with your specific purpose: 'The purpose of my speech is to convince each and every one of you to eat more bacon! Like every day, several times a day, including most holidays!'
Now, you would break down this idea into smaller points. This is where brainstorming comes into play. Let's see:
- 'Bacon is tasty.'
- 'Bacon is full of protein.'
- 'It's fun to fry and bake.'
- 'It is conveniently available in stores everywhere.'
- 'It's part of a balanced breakfast. Actually, it's not part of a balanced breakfast, but it should be.'
Okay, I think you have the idea. Now we have several smaller main points to talk about. Next, we can chunk, or narrow down the main points to smaller pieces of information to support the main points. So, for our bacon speech, we might try this:
- Okay, Main Point 1: 'Bacon is tasty.'
- Now, Minor Point 1: 'It is salty, crunchy and fatty so it hits all of the taste buds with a different sensation.'
- Minor Point 2: 'It tastes better than oatmeal or toast.'
Then, move on to the next main point.
- Main Point 2: 'Bacon is full of protein.'
- Let's see, Minor Point 1: 'Bacon has three grams of protein.'
- Now, Minor Point 2: 'Dry toast has 1.29 grams and orange juice has 0.6 grams of protein.'
There, that should convince them. You can see how that works. Once you have developed several main points with enough smaller, minor points, take a good look at the flow. Keep in mind that in a shorter speech, you may have only two main points while longer speeches may contain several.
Best Use of Main Points
At this point, you should see a connection between the main points. That's a good thing. But there are a few things we also need to think about. As you review the main points, do they unite to serve the specific purpose of the speech?
If the speech is about the benefits of bacon, does using the taste of bacon help to support the purpose? Well, I would say so. It's always a benefit to eat tasty food. Now, you don't want the points to unite so much that they become one. So, balancing the main points is important. You can do this by ensuring that the main points are related but not the same.
Our specific purpose is to persuade people to eat more bacon. We used a couple of main points to convince the audience. Each point is separate. First, we said that bacon is tasty. Then, we said bacon contains protein. They both relate to why people should eat bacon, but the reasons are not so similar that they seem like one single point.
Structure the main points so that they are of a similar organization. This means, if you are using questions as a main point, use all questions. If you are using statements, use all statements. Don't do this: 'People should eat more bacon. Bacon is tasty! Is bacon loaded with protein? Have bacon today! Doesn't everybody like bacon?'
See how the speaker switched from statement to question and back to statement and then ended in a question? That's confusing. Actually, it was about as confusing as my last statement, but that was all done to prove a point. Stay with the same format to avoid listener confusion.
Finally, keep a logical flow of information. To do this, make sure the progression of points moves from most important to least important. In the bacon speech, we could move from bacon's taste to its protein content - that seems logical.
Bottom line, a speech should have a specific purpose, main points and minor points. The main points should be united but separate, have the same structure and be placed in a logical order. Once you've done all of that, you should be able to convince the world to eat more bacon!
To put it all together, when you set out to write a speech, you should first consider the main idea. It is the purpose of the speech. Whether your purpose is to inform, persuade or entertain your audience, you will need to break down the specific purpose into main ideas.
Start with a good brainstorming session. This involves a group or individual activity where a list of ideas is generated to either solve a problem or generate new ideas. Once the ideas start swirling around in your head, chunk them into your smaller points. This means to narrow down the main points into smaller pieces of information to support the main points.
Now that you have all that done, use some best practices to keep the speech interesting:
- Unite the main points to serve the specific purpose of your speech.
- Balance the main points to ensure that the main points are related but not the same.
- Structure the main points so they are of a similar organization.
Whatever you do, keep a logical flow of information by making sure the progression of points moves from most important to the least important. I believe this will convert anyone into becoming a bacon lover!
This video lesson will help you build the knowledge required to:
- Develop the main idea of a speech
- Focus on main points and narrow them down to smaller points
- Construct a speech using a basic outline
- Discuss the importance of brainstorming, point structure and unity