SPEECH STRUCTURE

Not sure how your speech should be organized? What comes first? How do I end it?

➤ The organization of a speech is key in conveying meaning and tone.

➤ Use one of these key structures when writing your speech to ensure everyone can follow what you’re saying.

➤ Please note that all speeches have a variety of openings and endings that are the choice of the presenter, and these are methods for how to structure the speech as a whole.

Storylike Structures

Chronological

Description

The order of presented information is related to events according to their time progression.

Time Sequence 

Main points are presented in order of how they happened. Describe the events, periods, experiences, activities, phases, stages or steps in a process, how to, or what happened sequence.

Reverse Order 

The first point of your content issue is the end of the story you want to tell, the clue, or the plot. You continue by returning back to the start of the event or the beginning of the process.

Historical Development 

Talks about the development path or progress over time from past to present to future. Usually these types of speeches use a visual aid to describe and illustrate ideas, actions, events, people, and places. Examples of main speech topics could be: foundation and early developments, current status, and future developments.

Past Present Future 

Very similar to Historical Development, this structure is typically used when a personal narrative is being told.

It describes the personal experience of an event, historical chain of events, or learning of a process in order of occurrence

Sequential

Description

Information is arranged according to a process or step by step sequence.

Step By Step

This method usually fits most process, demonstration, and expository speeches. Explain how to do or make something by presenting the steps. Main points can be: what it is, its features, how it works, how it has been used, its history, its future possibilities, and steps, events or actions that lead to a specific outcome.

Inquiry Pattern

Used for writing assignments on research or discoveries. Tell how you have brainstormed, and gathered all information and show the audience how it started with a question or curiosity followed by the outcomes.

Spatial

Description

Information is arranged according to how things relate in a physical space. 

Object Description

Typically used in factual speeches, this format moves around a specified object or group of objects and gives information about each one. For example, if you are describing the parts of a bike you may begin with the handlebars, move onto the frame, etc. Similarly if you are describing the contents of a first aid kit you may move from object to object, giving a description of what each is and its primary function.  Each described part is treated as a different topic that relates to the previous ones.

Place Description

Similar to object description, place description structure follows a similar method, but describes a place. If a tour guide is leading a group around a museum, they may begin with the objects at the entrance and then continue to provide historical context around items depending on where the group tours first. 

Climactic

Description

Information is arranged in order of importance for a particular, desired effect.

Motivating Structure

Typically with the goal of moving the audience to action or optimism, this structure places the negative or less important aspects in a speech first. Comparatively, as importance and quality of presented information improves so too does the mood of the audience. A coach giving a speech before a game may begin by reminding the team of recent losses, but end by naming the team’s strengths and advantages over their opponents.

Demotivating Structure

The inverse of a motivating structure, a demotivating structure arranges information in a more pessimistic nature, ending with points that have a negative connotation. This type of structure is typically used in order to motivate an audience to either make a change from what is happening or achieve a negative response to something that has already happened. A coach speaking to a team after a loss may aim to leave on a negative note, as this could incentivize change.

Persuasive Structures

Problem and Solution

Description

Topic is split up by naming the issues with a scenario and then how to correct these issues.

Format

Establish a problem and then convince people there’s a need for change. This is often used in sales where the problem is the current method of doing things / current product being used and the solution is the advertised service or product.

Cause and Effect

Description

Shows different outcomes of various situations and the reason each outcome exists.

Format

This structure is popular when moving a group to action in order to solve a problem. It is common to use this structure in a persuasive manner, i.e. “If we don’t (implement a sort of change) soon then the result will be (negative outcome).”

Compare and Contrast

Description

Information is arranged according to how multiple things differ from one another. 

Format

This particular format is helpful because it puts topics in context to foster insights. Multiple things are placed “side by side” so that the differences between them become more apparent. This is typically used in a more informative rather than persuasive manner as it is a factual approach.

Advantage and Disadvantage

Description

The benefits and drawbacks of hypothetical scenarios are presented as “good” or “bad”.

Format

Similar to a compare and contrast model, this structure is more simplistic in that it simply weighs the outcomes pertaining to the audience. It is often used in decision making rather than persuasion, but unlike compare and contrast places a heavy focus on the subjective outcome to the audience, rather than just looking at each scenario as a whole.