Notebook writing

Writing the body of a speech

Though it may sound counterintuitive, start by developing the body of your speech first. You’ll be working on 2-5 main points, and you can’t adequately plan how to introduce them until you know what they are. Your main points are the key ideas you want to get across in your speech.

These main points should include the most significant ideas you are presenting:

The Zipperoo Company’s version of the newest whirligig is vastly superior due to its precision-craftsmanship.

As you begin to brainstorm key ideas, look for ways of combining or streamlining related ideas into one point. For example, background information or basic information about your topic could likely be combined into your first main point:

In order to fully understand the importance of the European Union to the world economy, it is critical to understand the EU’s origins.

Supporting your points

Next consider the development of support for each of your main points. Remember that your support is critical as it helps to explain, prove, provide details, give examples, and add credibility. Support can take many different forms: examples, testimony, definition, description, comparison, statistics, quotations, etc.

  • When using statistics, be sure to credit the source:

A recent follow-up study by Steinmetz and Schuster indicates that 76% of participants in the park’s fundraising efforts found the campaign’s telemarketing practices to be intrusive and unwanted.

  • A strong testimonial can offer excellent personalized support for your main point:

According to Bill Simpson, a long-term employee of Acme Manufacturing, plant supervisors have always worked overtime to ensure assembly line worker safety, a rarity in today’s results-driven manufacturing culture.

Regardless of what type you use, remember the importance of providing oral footnotes to properly attribute credit to your sources.


Transitions are critical to the effectiveness of your speech. Though simpler than those used in written papers, speech transitions act as “turn signals” for your audience, helping them to stay abreast of your directional changes.

  • One type of transition verbally connects the upcoming idea to the one previously discussed:

Now that I’ve told you about the safety concerns associated with this children’s toy, I’d like to explain the problematic human rights violations being routinely committed by the toy’s manufacturer.

  • Another type of transition relies on the repetition of keywordsfrom the speech’s introduction as a means of moving between main points:

At the beginning of my comments, I mentioned to you that scarcity is one of the factors contributing to the demand for this type of handmade jewelry; let me take a moment to explain in greater detail exactly why that scarcity matters.

Such transitions should be incorporated anytime you wish tosummarize what you’ve covered, preview what is coming up, or connect two thoughts for the audience. The repetition of keywords can often serve as a very effective transition.

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