Building the Body (of the Speech)

March 3, 2009 | | Comments Off on Building the Body (of the Speech)

Once you’ve properly put together an introduction, you need to move into the body of the speech. Having crafted that introduction so well, you now have a blueprint for the body of the speech. Your preview statement will contain the main points you plan to discuss in the body of the speech. The body will be an augmentation of that preview.

As you will see, once you’ve figured out how to develop one of the main points, you’ve figured out the formula for all of the main points. It basically comes down to providing transitions between the points, augmenting the points, and formatting the points. Doing this, you might find yourself in the unique position of having more to say than you need. You will have the luxury of editing for time constraints. Let’s look at all of this more closely.

Transition between Points

This is as simple as saying “First,” “Second,” “Next,” or “Finally.” If you want to get fancier (and help the audience out significantly), you can repeat the main points by providing a transitional summary/preview. This looks more like “Now that we’ve discussed _______, let’s look at _______.” Fill in the blanks with main points.

Augment the Points

Once you list the various points you plan to discuss, you have to provide some augmentation or amplification. What does that mean? It means you have to explain your point. What are you talking about? If it’s an informative speech, what is involved in this step of the process? If it’s persuasion, explain your argument in more detail.

Once you’ve explained it a little more, provide the audience with some evidence to support your point. Use examples, statistics, or testimony to help. Short quotes never hurt any, either, but don’t feel like you need one for every point.

Be sure to use a credible source or two and make sure to list that source.

Finally, tell the audience what to make of the point. This is a bit vague, admittedly. But, it’s still necessary. As a speaker, you are connecting dots for the audience. In an informative speech, you are helping them to see how this particular point relates to the purpose of the speech (in our earlier example,  show the audience how one of the parts of a computer helps them to build a computer less expensively). For a persuasive speech, your point has to show the audience how change is necessary based on the argument provided.

Format the Points

While developing each main point, remember to keep them in the order listed in the preview. When you list them in that order, the audience will expect that order. Changing it up will only confuse the audience (something you never want to do).

Also, keep each main point about the same length as the previous main point. Audience members get into a rhythm when it comes to a speech, and they will try to find patterns in the speech. If the first main point is about one minute long, they’ll expect the next point to be a minute long. If the first point is a minute and the second point is five minutes, the audience will wonder if the next main point will be 10 or 20 minutes. Not only that, they will begin to think that the first main point was not as important as the second main point. Or, they will get lost in the longer main point, thinking that you’ve covered several main points.

Follow the Formula

Speech writing is surprisingly simple, if you follow a formula. So, all you really need to do is follow the instructions below. To help a bit, let’s use the same preview statement regarding computers:

“To show you how to build a computer, we will consider the processor, the motherboard, memory, and storage space to help you to learn how to build a computer so you can save some serious cash.”

1. Transition from Introduction to Main Point #1

  • “First, let’s examine… (Main Point #1)”

In this case, you’d actually say something like, “First, let’s examine the processor as it pertains to building your own computer.”

2. Discuss Main Point #1

  • Provide explanation of step (involved in a process), idea, or argument.
  • Clarify with an example/statistic/testimony
  • Add quote from trusted source or testimonial (optional)
  • What are we to make of this point?

3. Transition from Main Point #1 to Main Point #2

  • “Next, let’s examine (Main Point #2)…” or
  • “Now that we’ve looked at Main Point #1, let’s move on to Main Point #2…”

In our example, you’d say…

“Next let’s examine the motherboard”

or

“Now that we’ve looked at the processor, let’s move on to the motherboard.”

4. Main Point #2 (Make sure it’s about the same length of time as Main Point #1)

  • Explanation of the step/idea/argument.
  • How is it different than Main Point #1?
  • Clarify with an example/statistic/testimony.
  • Add quote from trusted source or testimonial (optional).
  • What are we to make of this point?

5. Transition from Main Point #2 to Main Point #3

  • Third, let’s look at (Main Point #3)…”
  • Now that we’ve looked at Main Point #2, let’s move on to Main Point #3…

Do I really need to spell it out again? Fine…

“Third, let’s look at the memory…”

or

“Now that we’ve looked at the motherboard, let’s examine the memory.”

6. Main Point #3 (Make sure it’s about the same length as Main Point #2)

  • Explanation of the step/idea/argument
  • How is it different than Main Point #1 and Main Point #2?
  • Clarify with an example/statistic/testimony
  • Add quote from trusted source or testimonial (optional)
  • What are we to make of this point?

7. Transition from Main Point #3 to Main Point #4

  • “Finally, let’s talk about (Main Point #4)”
  • “We’ve looked at (Main Point #1, Main Point #2, and Main Point #3), but we also need to consider (Main Point #4).”

You can pretty much repeat this process for as many main points as you have (though I’d set a limit at around five main points).

“Finally let’s talk about storage.”

“We’ve looked at the processor, the motherboard, and the memory, but we also need to consider the storage.”

8. Main Point #4 (Make sure it’s about the same length as Main Point #3)

  • Explanation of the step/idea/argument
  • How is it different than Main Point #1, Main Point #2, and Main Point #3?
  • Clarify with an example/statistic/testimony
  • Add quote from trusted source or testimonial (optional)
  • What are we to make of this point?

Time Is Now On Your Side

Putting all of this together, you may find that you have yourself a very extensive speech written. You may actually have to consider editing your speech down to only the most essential elements. Imagine that: cutting down your speech to fit into a given time frame. That would put most speech writers on unfamiliar territory. But, believe me; it’s much better to cut down a speech than to have to add to it.

I’ll leave the actual work up to you. It is your speech, after all!

Good luck!



Comments are closed