Sample Speech Outline

- an organizational template to complete

The sample speech outline template below will help clarify what you want to say as well as help organize your material.

Once done, your outline will form the backbone of your speech guiding you logically and sequentially through all the aspects you need to consider before you write the speech itself.

Why bother with an outline?

Because completing one is a critical step in preparing a successful speech.

It is often overlooked in a misguided effort to get on with the real work of writing the speech itself. The outline is seen as a waste of time!

But truly, you will save time through doing one and avoid any anxiety caused by inadequate preparation.

It might look daunting and horrifically time consuming but do it all the same.

An old fashioned alarm clockSave yourself time by completing a speech outline

What you'll learn about structure, matching content to your speech purpose and your audience's needs will pay you back over and over again. I promise you, completing an outline will make your speech giving easier!

Read the page through to familiarize yourself with the terms and the process. When you're done, download and print off the blank sample speech outline for your own use.

Speech outlining in 4 steps

The process of outlining a speech is broken down into 4 essential steps.

(Click a heading to find out more about each one)

  1. Preparation-
    • deciding on your topic
    • considering the audience and refining your topic to suit them
    • deciding on the purpose of the speech
    • choosing an organizational method to support your speech purpose

  2. Introduction-
    • opening greeting and attention getter
    • defining your thesis statement (a summary of what your speech is about)
    • establishing your credibility
    • an overview and the benefit to the audience

  3. Body-
    • transition or link between introduction and body
    • main ideas with supporting ideas
    • examples and details

  4. Conclusion-
    • summary of main points
    • closer or call to action

Remember this old saying?

First: tell them what you're going to tell them.
Second: tell them.
Third: tell them what you told them.

A simple sample speech outline uses all three.

  1. 'Tell them what you're going to tell them' becomes your introduction
  2. 'Tell them' forms the body
  3. 'Tell them what you told them' is your conclusion

Sample Speech Outline - Step One - Preparation

thatched cottege

Topic - decide what you are going to talk about

For example: residential real estate

Audience - consider who will be listening to you and what aspects of your topic are best suited to meet their needs

The scope of the topic 'residential real estate' is huge. A speech could cover financial advice for first home buyers, how to check a house before purchase, the rise of mortgagee default sales, the collapse of property development schemes ...

Before you settle on the exact content of your speech analyze your audience. Why should they listen to you? What's in your speech for them?

Refine or Limit Topic - re-frame in view of your audience - decide on the angle you will take and whether or not you need to limit the scope

Your audience analysis should tell you what will be of interest. For example housing affordability with a step by step plan toward buying a first home will likely interest an audience of youngish, (late 20's-30's), people with steady professional incomes. But for another audience, (e.g. older, less financially secure, younger and not yet ready to consider settling ...), it could be completely inappropriate.

Define Purpose - Why are you giving this speech? Is it to persuade, inform, demonstrate, entertain, or welcome? Or is it a combination of these?

What do you want it to achieve? What action do you want people to take as a result of listening to you? Your answers to all of these questions will dictate what organizational pattern you'll use for your speech, its content and tone.

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Choosing an organizational pattern or method

black and white chevron pattern

There are 6 basic organizational patterns or methods of arranging the body of your material. Choose the one most appropriate for your need.

These are:

  1. Cause - Effect
    Because event A happened, event B occurred.
  2. Problem - Solution
    The problem is X. The solution is Y.
  3. Logical
    This pattern suits a broad topic which is broken down into naturally occurring sub-topics.
    E.g. Broad topic: Vocal Variety
    Sub-topics: rate of speech, use of pausing, voice tone, volume, articulation...
  4. Spatial or Geographic
    Topics dealing with physical space.
    E.g. The popular tourism areas in New Zealand
  5. Time or Chronological
    Historical topics dealing with the sequence of events or demonstration speeches.
    E.g. The history of women's suffrage in USA, How to bake a cake
  6. Advantage - Disadvantage
    Use this pattern for examining the range of positive and negative aspects of an idea or event.
    E.g. Social housing, work schemes, lowering the drinking age ...

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Sample Speech Outline - Step Two - Introduction

open sign

  • Greeting - Attention Getter
    How are you going to greet your audience, grab their attention and compel them to listen?

    It could a rhetorical question, a startling statistic, a quotation or a humorous one-liner. To be effective it must be related to your topic and apt for your audience.
  • Thesis Statement
    A one sentence summary of your speech topic and your point of view or angle.
    E.g. Green politics is no longer a fanciful, fringe fad. It is a necessity.
  • Credibility
    This establishes your right to speak on the topic. It cites your qualification or expertise.
  • Summative overview
    Brief outline of the main points to be covered
  • Benefit
    What's in your speech for your audience? Why will they want to hear what you've got to tell them? Be specific. Tell them.

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Sample Speech Outline - Step Three - Body

  • Transition
    This the link between your introduction and the main body of your speech. How will you tie them together?

    Note: If you're unsure about the exact nature of links or transitions and how they work or what they are, you'll find more about them, with examples, on my page how to write a speech

  • Main Idea 1 - Supporting ideas - Details and examples - Visuals or props - Transition to...

  • Main Idea 2 - Supporting ideas - Details and examples - Visuals or props - Transition to...

  • Main Idea 3 - Supporting ideas - Details and examples - Visuals or props - Transition to...

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Sample Speech Outline - Step Four - Conclusion

end sign

  • Summary of main ideas
    These are the main points you covered in the body of your speech.
  • Re-statement of thesis statement
    Use the statement from your introduction to reinforce your message.
  • Re-statement of benefit to audience
    Remind the audience of the benefits they'll receive through carrying out whatever your propose. Again this comes from your introduction.
  • Closer, Clincher or Call to Action
    This is your final sentence. To ensure your speech ends with a bang rather than a whimper check out this page on how to end a speech memorably. You'll find options and examples.

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And now get your own "ready-to-use" sample speech outline template.

This is a simple 2 page PDF of all 4 steps and their sub- headings with spaces for you to write your notes. Right click to download and print your sample speech outline now.

Please note you will need Adobe Reader (the latest version is recommended) installed on your computer in order to open and read this PDF. If you haven't got it you can get it here (a new window will open so you can download it without leaving this page).

If you want to open the file in your browser window, just click on the link. However, if you want to download the file to view later, then right-click on the link and choose "Save Target As" or "Save File As." Then select where you want to save the file on your hard drive.

Once you have saved the file, locate where you saved it, and double click to open.

In order to print the blank sample speech outline, open the downloaded file, and select the "Print" option from the menu.

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Want to know more about preparing speeches?

This page goes into more detail (with examples) about planning a speech and this one provides step by step examples on how to write a speech.

Once you're done with planning, completing your sample speech outline and writing do find out about how to rehearse. A speech is a live performance. Rehearsal helps you expose and iron out glitches before you find them out the hard way - in front of your audience.

And if your speech is being assessed check out this standard speech evaluation form to see what aspects are likely to be judged and how a rating scale works.