An effective speech includes an effective opening and closing. Most openings fall into one of the following categories: dramatic, question, humorous, or reference. The seven basic closings include: summaries, wrap-ups, direct appeals, thesis closings, reference closings, inspirational closings, and anecdotal closings. There are several steps to a good speech including: determining audience and occasion, researching, determining a statement of purpose, creating an outline, constructing a thesis, organizing, writing, editing and rewriting, and practicing. Remember that an effective speaker establishes credibility and rapport with the audience. Also, an effective speaker considers the position of the audience. Will the audience be able to hear and see the speaker easily? Will visual aids be helpful? Make eye contact with the audience, be energetic, use gesture, and demonstrate as needed. Speakers should practice, practice, practice.

Key Words

  • Anecdote– a short illustration or story
  • Articulation– the way words and consonants are spoken
  • Audience– those listening to the speech
  • Clincher – the final appeal in a speech
  • Conclusion– the ending of a speech; wrap-up
  • Example– an illustration that supports a point
  • Introduction– beginning of the speech; where the thesis is presented
  • Jargon– technical language of a particular profession or group
  • Main Points– key assertions that develop a central idea
  • Narrative– a story that illustrates a point
  • Purpose– the goal of the speech
  • Repetition– words or phrases repeated for effect
  • Summarize– condensing the main idea of a particular section, or the entire speech

Components of Effective Speeches

Like any good essay, a good speech has three distinct parts. Every effective speech should have an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Speakers should seek to draw in the audience, present them with the information, and then leave them with a summary that will make the speech memorable. If the speech were a sandwich, the introduction would be the top slice of bread. The body of the sandwich is the meat, and the conclusion is the bottom slice of bread. Take a closer look at the parts below.

The Introduction

Speech Sandwich Let’s look at the top slice of bread. The introduction is the part of the speech when the speaker grabs the attention of the audience. This is the place to use an anecdote, a joke, or important statistic. Be sure to let the audience know why this topic is important. This will draw the audience in and make them want to listen to the speech. The introduction is also the place to establish credibility with the audience. Credibility is essential in gaining trust as a speaker. The speaker should also give a brief glimpse of what will come in the latter parts of the speech.

The Body

The body is the “meat” of the speech. This is where all the information is presented. The speaker should present the main points of the topic in the body of the speech. Each main point should be clearly stated, supported, and illustrated. Transitions between main points should also be clear, so the audience follows the argument easily.

The Conclusion

The conclusion is the finishing slice of bread. This is where the wrap-up happens. Speakers should summarize the main points in the conclusion and finish the argument. A speaker might use a clincher in the conclusion to leave the audience with a final, memorable thought. The clincher in the conclusion should also signal the audience that the speech is over.