The art of Public Speaking ——Organizing of your speechIf you thumb through any mail-order catalogue today, you will discover that many of the items for sale are organizers --closet organizers, kitchen organizers and office organizers. Read enough catalogues, and you must conclude that is something exists, it can be organized. Why all these quest for organization?
bviously, there's little point in having multiple possessions if you can't find them when you need them. Much the same is true of your speeches. If they are well organized, they will serve you better. Organization allows you - and your listeners - to see what ideas you have and to put mental "hands" on the most important ones.
■Organization is important
Several years ago a college professor took a well-organized speech and scrambled it by randomly changing the order of its sentences. He then had a speaker deliver the original version to one group of listeners and the scrambled version to another group. After the speeches, he gave a test to see how well each group understood what they had heard. Not surprisingly, the group that heard the original, unscrambled speech scored much higher than the other group.
A few years later, two professors repeated the same experiment at another school. But instead of testing how well the listeners comprehended each speech, they tested to see what effects the speeches had on the listeners?attitudes toward the speakers. They found that people who heard the well-organized speech believed the speaker to be much more competent and trustworthy than did those who heard the scrambled speech.
These are just two of many studies that show the importance of organization in speechmaking. You realize how difficult it is to pay attention to the speaker, much less to understand the message. In fact, when students explain what they hope to learn from their speech class, they almost always put "the ability to organize my ideas more effectively" near the top of the list. This ability is especially vital for speechmaking. Listeners have little patience with speakers who bounce wildly from idea to idea. Keep in mind that listeners cannot flip back to a previous page if they have trouble grasping a speaker's ideas. In this respect a speech is much like a movie. A speaker must be sure listeners can follow the progression of ideas from beginning to end. This requires that speeches be organized strategically.
The first step in developing a strong sense of speech organization is to gain command of the three basic parts of a speech - introduction, body, and conclusion - and the strategic role of each. The body is the longest and most important part. Also, you will usually prepare the body first. It is much easier to create an effective introduction after you know exactly what you will say in the body. The process of organizing the body of a speech begins when you determine the main points.
The main points are the central features of your speech. You should select them carefully, phrase them precisely, and arrange them strategically. Here are the main points of a student speech about the medical uses of hypnosis:
To inform my audience about the major uses of hypnosis.
The major uses of hypnosis today are to control pain in medical surgery, to help people stop smoking, and to help students improve their academic performance.
1. Hypnosis is used in surgery as an adjunct to chemical anesthesia.
2. Hypnosis is used to help people stop smoking.
3. Hypnosis is used to help students improve their academic performance.
These three main points form the skeleton of the body of the speech. If there are three major uses of hypnosis for medical purposes, then logically there can be three main points in the speech.
Sometimes main points are evident from your specific purpose statement. Even if they are not stated expressly, they may be easy to project from statement. Often they will emerge as you research the speech and evaluate your findings. Suppose your specific purpose is "To persuade my audience that our state should not approve proposals for online voting." You know that each main point in the speech will present a reason why online voting should not be instituted in your state. But you aren't sure how many main points there will be or what they will be. As you research and study the topic, you decide there are two major reasons to support your view. Each of these reasons will become a main point in your speech.
Number of main points
You will not have time in your classroom speeches to develop more than four or five main points, and most speeches will contain only two or three. Regardless of how long a speech might run, if you have too many main points, the audience will have trouble sorting them out. When everything is equally important, nothing is important. If when you list your main points, you find you have too many, you may be able to condense them into categories.
Strategic order of Main Points
Once you establish your main points, you need to decide in what order you will present them in your speech. This is extremely important, for it will affect both the clarity and the persuasiveness of you idea. The most effective order depends on three things - your topic, your purpose, and your audience. Five basic patterns of organization used most often by public speaker: chronological, spatial, causal, problem-solution, and topical order.
Tips for preparing main points
Each main point in a speech should be clearly independent of the other main points. Take care not to lump together what should be separate main points. And because main points are so important, you want to be sure they all receive enough emphasis to be clear and convincing. This means allowing sufficient time to develop each main point. This is not to say that all main points must receive exactly equal emphasis, but only that they should be roughly balance.
Clear organization is vital to speechmaking. Listeners demand coherence. They get only one chance to grasp a speaker's ideas, and they have little patience for speakers who ramble aimlessly from one idea to another. A well-organized speech will enhance your credibility and make it easier for the audience to understand your message. Speeches should be organized strategically. They should be put together in particular ways to achieve particular results with particular audiences.
The process of planning the body of a speech begins when you determine the main points. These are the central features of your speech. You should choose them carefully, phrase them precisely, and organize them strategically. Because listeners cannot keep track of a multitude of main points, most speeches should contain no more than two to five main points. Each main point should focus on a single idea, should be worded clearly, and should receive enough emphasis to be clear and convincing. Supporting materials are the backup ideas for your main points. When organizing supporting materials, make sure they are directly relevant to the main points they are supposed to support. And connectives help tie a speech together. They are words or phrases that join one thought to another and indicate the relationship between them. Using them effectively will make your speeches more unified and coherent.