how to outline a speech

How to Outline A Speech – Easy 4-stage Strategy


The art of speech outlining is such that anybody trying to make a public presentation should give strict adherence to. If you came here asking ‘how to outline a speech?’, then rest assured, you will learn how to craft an effective speech outline by the time you finish reading this article.

When you organize your speech into a comprehensive outline, you not only boost your confidence and delivery by doing so but, you also, establish authority in your chosen field of endeavor.

Now, before proceeding to prepare your speech outline, be sure to start with an excellent introduction about yourself and the topic or subject that will form the basis of the discussion, the main points you hope to go over, as well putting the diverse interests of the audience into consideration.

As you write your speech outline, you will need to consider chopping it into various cross-sections from the introduction down to the conclusion.

The introductory part of your presentation will contain a brief intro about yourself, the foundation and theme of your topic, and your work in the field of discussion.

The mid-section part of your presentation will include much of the discussion itself. This will be an opener into the topic, as well as touching on each of the main points in the presentation.

The last part of the speech outline will hold the final notes, the summary as well as a question and answering session, before the final closing remarks

We will do better to illustrate these stages below.

How to Outline a Speech Stage I

1. Introduction

The most common approach is to open the floor with a warm welcome and a brief intro about yourself. Of course, you could use other speech opening techniques, which you can find in this article, but let’s go with the most common now.

You can start by saying “hello,” then going on to state your name and what you do. It will also be useful to find common ground with you, the audience, and the event. For example, if the scope of the entire event centers on your field, it will be wise to point that out in specific terms.

As an expert in your field, you might have been asked to speak at a “Go-green” event. You could start by saying something like along the lines…

“Hello everyone, I’m Nathan Gustav, I’ve spent the last seven years of my career researching the impact of climate change on our environment, and I’m more than pleased that I have been invited to speak on the subject of adopting eco-friendly best practices for a safer and cleaner environment.”

2. Engage Them In Banters That Hover Around The Topic In Question

As a part of the introductory phase, you will have to succinctly relay the essence of your topic, and everything that concerns it. In the case of more engaging topics, you should argue what they stand to gain or lose in the event the right action is not taken at a particular time frame.

Just like in the illustration given earlier, you might explain to them why climate change has become a matter of urgency, and why drastic measures need to be taken to curb the damage, it has caused. All these will lay a foundation of what much of the topic will be mediated upon.

After you might have laid the foundation of the topic, your main aim should be to immediately captivate your audience by telling them a compelling story, or by sharing a joke. You should factor in the audience taste when doing so. You should not feel that since you probably found something amusing or exciting, that they will automatically share in the same spirits.

Where you are not too sure of what a class of audience might appreciate, you can do a test-run with a small group of friends, who have the same enthusiasm as you and your subject to see how well they buy into your story.

3. Lay Out The Core Theme Of The Message.

This would be the mission statement of your presentation, which boldly explains the aims and objectives of your speech. This theme would serve as the template on which you will make your presentation. For an engaging speech, your mission statement will address the goals you hope to achieve from the entire exercise.

In the illustration of climate change, you might go on to explain the various best practices that can be adopted to promote an eco-friendly environment, like recycling, using energy-saving bulbs, or planting a garden.

If you are giving a speech on scientific research, you should lay down the hypothesis of the research in discussion.

4. Establish Authority In Your Work

At this point, you should let your audience in on your wealth of experience. This can be conveyed through stories of your personal experiences or encounters throughout your years of working in the field.

Even when you don’t have formal training in the subject at hand, you can establish authority in that field from an experience you have had or witnessed.

A person who has witnessed a “troubled” loved one commit suicide is better informed to give a speech about handling depression and anxiety amongst youth.

5. Gloss Over The Main Points

By this time, your audience is already familiar with the topic of discussion and why they need to give a listening ear. Then go-ahead to lay out a clear summary of all the key points you hope to discuss.

There are no short cuts to this. You need to be precise about what you want to talk about. The order in which you arrange your points will be dependent on the nature of the topics. Topics that take stock of past events will have to be arranged chronologically.

In reality, you will need to arrange your key points in a manner that looks comfortable to you, so you don’t have a problem moving from point to point.

How to Outline a Speech Stage II

6. The Opener Into The Topic

Begin with the first point of your topic, which will be a high priority case study in the outline. Under this case study, will be a host of smaller points that will provide supportive evidence to back the main point.

Upon the way and manner, you choose to arrange the outline; they can be represented as bullet points. You should add various arguments and verified information to augment the main point of discussion.

Always begin with strong arguments down to the least. This is because of time constraints. You might not have all the time to table all your points, but you have had just enough time to discuss the most important ones.

7. Roll Over To The Next Point.

When you are done with discussing your first point, you should revert to the main header and find an easy path from which you can roll over to the next point. There need not be any fancy way of transitioning unto the next point. Just find a cool phrase that can work just fine.

You could, for instance, say “You have seen the adverse effects of climate on our environment, now is the time to seek for eco-friendly ways we can all adopt in our various little ways to combat this common problem.” Run this same method along with all points in the outline, and you will turn out just fine.

Remember that when picking small sub-points to speak on, always have the audience’s interest at the back of your mind as much as the general point. Always reason ahead and factor in only what is most relevant to them.

How to Outline a Speech Stage III

8. Final Notes

By now, you should be done with the main body of your presentation . At the point, you need to find a subtle transitional statement to hint to the audience that the presentation is about to come to an end. The statement need not be anything bold or fanciful. All you might need to say is “In summary…” then move on to say what you want.

Conclude by summarizing all the points you have talked about. You can begin by reiterating what you said before in your speech. It is a summary, so you need not go over all of the details again. You should more or less gloss over the main points.

Moreover, never make the mistake of adding any new details to what you have already established in the summary part of your presentation. You would not only be committing a blunder but also obstructing the flow and structure of your message, which ultimately won’t play well with the audience.

9. Reiterate The Core Theme Of The Message

This particular address of your mission statement should be more of a conclusion summary or a fact discovery than its raw form thesis that you made known during the introductory phase of your presentation.

When a speech goes as successfully as expected, you would have proven your hypothesis beyond a reasonable doubt and shown its relevance.

The theme of your message should refer to the summarized version of your points and should hold a strong position. Especially for short presentations, you may choose to join your summarized points together with your mission statement in one sentence to bring your speech to an end.

When giving out a call-to-action, be sure to add your contact information. You can say something like, “The Mayfair Initiative is looking for people to partner with to spread the message of going green. They need people to picket outside a coffee shop, your communal departmental store, or the small bar by the street. All you need do is contact us on such-and-such for more information.”

How to Outline a Speech Stage IV

speech outline - asking questions

10. Make Room For Questions And Answers

At the absolute conclusion will be the time for asking questions. Make sure to clear this up beforehand with the event hosts to know if it will be ok to field questions from the audience after making your presentation.

If you hope to make time to take questions, put this down on your speech outline so that it does not skip your memory at the climax of your speech.

Where you want to field in a couple of questions from the audience, make sure you pen this out in your speech outline so you can make mention of it, letting them know that you are willing to take questions.

Moreover, always expect to field tough questions and engage in counter-arguments about the speech topic. You should already have the answer to such questions before then, having done thorough research and do have them included in the outline.

Also, be quick to note to the audience just how much time and the number of questions you will be willing to take.

11. Thank The Audience And Your Host

Go ahead to appreciate the audience and the event hosts. Showing appreciation to your audience shows that you honor and respect them for taking out their precious time to pay attention to you. Where you were explicitly invited to make an appearance, you should not hesitate to acknowledge the hosts once again for the opportunity.

A word of warning, though, do not make your closing remarks and pleasantries sound too rehearsed. It should come natural and appear very heartfelt.


We can now see why learning how to outline a speech in the right order not only boost your confidence but lets you garner credibility and respect from your audience.

In order to help you deliver engaging, coherent, exciting and memorable presentations, we answered the question ‘how to outline a speech’ with a 4-stage strategy, that should prove useful for your future speeches and help you build rapport and credibility with your audience.

Making sure you give strict adherence to all the four stages, as we have been able to tabulate in the right order will surely stand you out amongst your peers, making you a dominant force in your area of specialization, and people will be more than willing to work with you.

In summary, when you are planning your speech or writing your speech you have so many great things you want to share with the audience, but time and forgetfulness won’t be on your side, so writing a speech outline that is effective and helps you deliver a memorable presentation is critical.


Thank you for reading this far. Find below additional references and resources that will add on to our ‘how to outline a speech’ post. I am sure you will find some additional insights.

Emily Listmann. How to Write a Speech Outline . . Accessed on 07/28/2019.

Andrew DLungan. Speech Preparation #3: Don’t skip the speech outline. . Accessed on 07/28/2019.

Susan DugDale. Sample Speech Outline. . Accessed on 07/28/2019.

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