There are several types of speeches, and each have their own organizational patterns and elements. In this article, I discuss the parts of an informative speech. An informative speech is similar in structure to the five-paragraph essay structure you learned about in high school: an introduction paragraph, three main points (the body), and the concluding paragraph. You can think of an informative speech the same way.
The introduction section of your speech should last about one minute in a five-minute speech. In the introduction section, you should first gain the audience’s attention, then relate your topic to the audience. Next, you should establish your credibility on your topic, state the purpose of your speech and tell your audience your central idea, then transition to your first main point.
The Speech Body
Your three main points should be organized in some logical, easy to follow pattern. One pattern you could use is a chronological pattern. With a chronological pattern, your main points would be organized in time sequence: what occurred first, what occurred second, etc. This pattern would work well for describing a process, such as a recipe, or for discussing periods of time in history.
Another option for organizing your main points is the spatial pattern. You can logically organize your points based on physical space: top to bottom, left to right, inside to outside, etc.
Another organizational pattern is the causal pattern. You can first discuss the cause of a problem, then the effect, or vice-versa. Related to this pattern is the problem/solution pattern. First discuss the problem, then discuss the solution.
The final organizational pattern is the topical pattern. You can divide your topic in to it’s logical components and discuss these components individually. For instance, if your topic is about symphonic orchestras, you could divide your main points into strings, brass, and woodwind instruments.
You should begin each of your three main points by clearly stating what your main point is. Each main point should be limited to a single idea. Try to be creative and avoid just announcing your main point. Each main point should be supported by examples, definitions, statistics, comparisons, or testimony from experts.
Between each main point, you should have good transitions. Transitions are verbal bridges that move your audience from one idea to the next. A transition is a word or group of words that show the relationship between ideas as you move from point to point. Transitions can be effectively indicated by pausing before moving on to another main point, by changing the rate of your speaking, varying your pitch, or more directly, by using statements that tell an audience you are moving on. An effective transition summarizes the points preceding it, and previews the next point. For example:
Those are the two main problems, now let’s see how they can be solved.
Use a variety of transitions and avoid falling into a rut. Transitions are surprisingly difficult and my students used to tell me that coming with good transitions is one of the hardest parts of speech writing. Here are some examples of transitions you can use:
- In addition to
- Similar to this
- Looking further
- Now consider it from
- More importantly
- Despite this
- Now let’s consider
- First of all
The final part of your speech is the conclusion. In your conclusion, you would first signal the end of your speech, which let’s your audience know that you are finishing. Then you recap your main points, and finally end your speech with a good clincher that reinforces your main idea and ties it all up.