Introduction to Organizing Your Speech

Imagine a passerby asks you for directions to the nearest convenience store. You begin by explaining the last turn they’ll make, then jump to where they need to start, then backtrack to the end, then move back to the middle turn. The person is no doubt confused and loses interest in your help. Conversely, telling the person three simple steps in order (“walk two blocks, then take a left and go two more blocks”) is logical and clear, and the passerby would probably believe and follow your instructions. Just as in everyday conversation, in public speaking, audiences appreciate and are more inclined to believe messages that are easy to follow and logical.

In this section, we will explore six organizational patterns for a speech. Your topic, audience, assignment, and purpose will help you determine the most effective pattern for your speech. Please note that while some topics align most logically with only one pattern, other topics could be presented effectively with more than one pattern (although you will only ultimately choose one).