By: Susan Dugdale | Last modified: 02-20-2023
There's a printable sample speech outline template below for you to download and use.
Why? Because a well-completed outline becomes the backbone of your speech. You'll use it to guide you logically, and carefully, through ALL the aspects you need to consider before you actually write the speech itself.
It will help you clarify what material you want to cover to fit your audience, and speech purpose, as well as help to effectively organize it.
Because completing a speech outline is the first vital step toward preparing a successful speech.
It is often overlooked in a misguided attempt to get on with what is considered the real work: writing the speech, or the words you're going to say.
Despite what many people think, time spent completing an outline is not wasted. Instead, it helps you save it. And sidestep any anxiety caused by inadequate preparation.
The process might appear daunting and horrifically time consuming but prepare a speech outline all the same.☺
What you'll learn about speech structure, matching content to your speech purpose and your audience's needs will pay you back over and over again. I promise you, having an outline will make giving a speech easier and less stressful.
Read the page all the way through to familiarize yourself with the terms and the process. When you're done, click the link at the foot of the page to download and print the blank sample speech outline template for your own use.
The process of outlining a speech is broken down into 4 essential steps.
(Click a heading to find out more about each one)
You need to complete this step before you do anything else. It is made up of five smaller steps, each of them an important part of the overall process. The decisions you make at this point will have a major impact on the final outcome of your speech.
By the time you are finished step 1 you will have:
The place to begin is deciding what you are going to talk about.
For example, if you are a realtor (real estate agent) who has been asked to talk to a suburban community group residential real estate seems like a good logical topic to pick.
(If you don't have a topic in mind, go to speech topics. You'll find 100s of them ordered by speech type and theme.)
However, before you make a final decision considering more closely who will be listening to you makes better sense than assuming whatever you come up with will be right!
How do you really know what aspects of your topic are best suited to meet your audience's needs? Or what would be of real benefit for them to hear about?
The scope of the topic 'residential real estate' is huge.
Your speech could cover any number of sub-topics like: financial advice for first home buyers, how to thoroughly check a house before purchase, the rise of mortgagee default sales, the collapse of property development schemes, how to purchase properties for makeovers...
So before you settle on the exact topic of your speech analyze your audience.
Without analysis you are 'guessing' what would be interesting and relevant for them to hear.
Using what you found out about your audience, decide on an aspect of your topic that will be of benefit to them and the angle you will take on it. Take care with this. One size does not fit all!
For example a speech on housing affordability which includes a step by step plan toward buying a first home will likely interest an audience of youngish, (late 20s- early 40s), people with steady professional incomes.
But for another audience, (e.g. one that is older, less financially secure, or younger and not ready to consider settling yet...), it could be completely inappropriate.
Minimize the risk of getting it wrong by finding out as much as you can about your audience.
What is the purpose of this speech? Why are you giving it?
Is it to persuade or inform? Is it to demonstrate, entertain, or welcome? Or is it a combination of these?
What do you want your speech to achieve?
Is there a particular action 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.
There are 6 basic organizational patterns or methods of arranging the body (main points) of your material. Choose the one most appropriate for your need.
Because event 'A' happened, event 'B' occurred.
The problem is 'X'. The answer is 'Y'.
This pattern suits a broad topic which can be broken down into naturally occurring sub-topics.
Use this pattern for topics dealing with physical spaces.
These are either historical topics or demonstration speeches. The foundation of both is an ordered sequence of events.
Use this pattern to examine the range of positive and negative aspects of an idea or event.
How are you going to greet your audience, grab their attention and compel them to listen?
You could use 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.
For more on effective speech openings see: How to write a speech introduction - 12 of the best ways to start a speech
This is a short summary of your speech topic and your point of view or angle.
Green politics is no longer a fanciful fringe fad. It is a necessity.
This segment establishes your right to speak on the topic. It cites your qualification or expertise.
Using myself as an example, I can speak about preparing speeches because I've written many over the past twenty or so years. Prior to becoming a professional speech writer, I taught high school level English and drama and I also belonged to the global public speaking club Toastmasters for a long time.
This is a brief outline of the main points you are going to cover.
Today I am going to share with you three effective ways to lessen public speaking fear.
The first and second cover aspects of preparation: writing and rehearsal or practice: actually doing the work, rather than being frightened of it. ☺ The third is about the benefits of public speaking.
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.
When you make a decision to speak up in public you also gain: confidence, the ability to take on leadership roles, a growing collection of presentation skills like story telling, how to use your voice, the ability to use props well, how to listen, how to craft a speech to meet the needs of specific audiences... In short, you release the potential to become a bigger and better you*.
(* For more see 14 benefits of public speaking.)
This is the heart of your speech, the place where you lay out what you want to share with your audience.
Generally three main ideas, along with supporting examples, work more effectively than four or five or more. If you have a number of them to choose from, go with your three strongest points. And if one of your final three is noticeably weaker sandwich it between the other two.
If you intend to use visual aids (slides showing graphs, tables or images), or actual props, mark them in too.
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
There are four parts to preparing an effective conclusion to your speech. Use them to draw together and summarize all the material from your introduction and the body of your speech, and end with a clincher!
This is a simple four page PDF of all four steps and their sub- headings with spaces for you to write your notes. Click to download and print your sample speech outline now.
Use these links to go to a fully completed:
Impromptu speech outline patterns - seven different structural formats, each with completed examples and a free blank printable outline for you to download and use.
Once you're done with planning, completing your sample speech outline and writing find out 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.