Steps to a Successful Speech

Ten Steps to a
Successful Speech
Steve Wood
Step 1: Topic
Choose a good topic
A good topic is a topic that
interests you and a topic that
you know something about.
Step 2: Purpose
Speeches should have both a
general and a specific purpose
Step 2: General
There are three general
purposes for speaking: to
inform, to persuade, and to
Although these three most often
work in concert with one
another, it’s helpful to decide
which is most important for you.
Step 2: Specific
To specify your purpose, draft a
purpose statement.
A purpose statement describes
the result you are seeking.
A purpose statement must be
A purpose statement must be
Step 2: Bad Purpose
“My purpose is to tell my audience about
computer games.” -- Not result-oriented
“My purpose is for my audience to learn
about exercise.” -- Not specific
“After listening to my speech, my audience
will never vote Republican again.” -- Not
Step 2: Good Purpose
“After listening to my speech, my audience
will understand the appeal of role-playing
“After listening to my speech, my audience
will know three low intensity forms of
exercise to strengthen their cardiovascular fitness.”
“After listening to my speech, my audience
will know the basic beliefs of the
Libertarian Party.”
Step 3: Thesis
Unlike a purpose statement, a
thesis statement is a statement
of the main point of your speech
that can be delivered directly to
the audience.
Step 4: Audience
Analyzing your audience is an
important step toward a
successful speech.
Your audience analysis will
potentially affect every choice
that you make in this process.
Step 4: Audience Types
There are three types of audiences.
• Passersby -- not interested initially,
gathered for speech by chance
• Captives -- may or may not be
interested, gathered for speech by force
• Volunteers -- often interested, gathered
for speech by choice
In reality, audiences are often combinations
of these types.
Step 4: Audience
Number of people in audience
Group membership
Step 4: Audience
Attitude - a predisposition to
respond to something in a
favorable or unfavorable way
Belief - an underlying conviction
about the truth of something
Value - a deeply-rooted belief
about a concept’s value
Step 5: Context
The context of a speech is its time
and place.
To prepare, think about the time your
speech will take and its pacing.
Remember the 8 minutes/ 20 minutes
Think about the physical location of
your speech: the noise, the lighting,
the temperature, etc.
Step 6: Research
Whether your purpose is informative or
persuasive, research is an important part
of the process.
Remember to check all of the types of
resources that are available to you: library,
Internet, surveys, interviews,
observations, etc.
Remember Sturgeon’s Law: 90% of
everything is crap. Your mission is to find
the 10%.
Step 7: Outline
Plan out your speech in outline
form; this outline will work for
any of the speech delivery
Any method of outlining will
work; a good basic format can
be found on page 380.
Step 7: Introduction
Good introductions:
Do get the audience’s attention.
Do preview the main points.
Do set the mood and tone.
Do demonstrate the importance of
the topic.
• Don’t confuse the audience.
Step 7: Conclusion
Good conclusions:
Do summarize the main point.
Don’t end abruptly.
Don’t ramble.
Don’t introduce new points.
Don’t apologize.
Step 8: Visual Aids
Visual aids can be an effective
part of any speech.
Make sure that the visual aid is
easily seen, is clear, is tied to
the proper point in the speech,
and is easy for you to utilize.
Step 8: MS PowerPoint
One of the most commonly used
presentation tools is Microsoft’s
PowerPoint program.
This program allows the display of outlines,
notes, photos, diagrams, and other audiovisual materials.
Many colleges now require use of
PowerPoint in their oral communication /
public speaking courses, including WCU.
Step 9: Delivery
Choose one of the four delivery
• Memorized - prepared and delivered from
• Manuscript - prepared and read word for
word from a prepared text
• Impromptu - not prepared, totally off the
• Extemporaneous - prepared and
planned, but given in a spontaneous
Step 10: Practice
Practice your speech to yourself
Tape record or videotape your
Practice in front of a mirror.
Practice in front of friends or
Practice in the room in which you
will actually deliver the speech.

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