Quick Guide: How to Write a Speech Outline

Teleprompter Team
April 26, 2024
Quick Guide: How to Write a Speech Outline

Knowing how to write a speech outline is not merely a skill reserved for students and professionals—it is a fundamental tool for anyone aiming to influence, persuade, or inform an audience. An effectively structured speech outline can transform good ideas into great deliveries, ensuring your message not only reaches but also resonates with your listeners.

Why Start with a Speech Outline?

Starting with a solid speech outline is essential because it serves as a roadmap for your entire presentation. It helps you organize your thoughts, maintain a logical flow, and importantly, keep the audience's attention from start to finish. Whether it’s a brief address at a community meeting or a more scientific speech at a conference, the outline you prepare lays the foundation for your success.

The Anatomy of a Basic Speech Outline


Creating a basic speech outline involves several key components, each playing a critical role in the speech's development and delivery.


  • Attention Grabber: Start with something that will catch the audience’s attention, such as a provocative question, a startling fact, or a personal story.
  • Thesis Statement: Clearly state the central theme or thesis of your speech. This statement will guide the entire speech and should be referred to throughout.
  • Preview of Main Points: Briefly outline the main points that will be covered, providing the audience with a clear expectation of what is to follow.


After captivating your audience with a strong introduction, the body of your speech serves as the core where you expand on your thesis statement. This is where your main points come into play, each requiring careful articulation and support.

  • Developing Main Points: Start with the broadest point or the most important aspect of your topic. This part must be clear and well-structured because it sets the tone for the details that follow.
  • Incorporating Sub-Points: Each main point in your speech should be supported by several sub-points. These serve a critical role, delving deeper into the topic, providing clarity and depth to your arguments. The use of sub-points helps break down complex information into manageable chunks, making it easier for your audience to digest and retain the information. Think of sub-points as branches of a tree, each extending from the main trunk with specific details and evidence.
  • Connecting the Dots: Ensure that there is a logical flow between your main points and sub points. Use transitions to guide your audience smoothly from one section to the next. This connectivity is crucial in maintaining the coherence of your speech and keeping the audience engaged from start to finish.


  • Summary of Main Points: Reiterate the points you’ve made, ensuring they tie back to your thesis statement.
  • Closing Summary or Remark: End with a strong, memorable statement or a call to action that leaves a lasting impression on your audience.

Tailoring Your Outline for Various Speech Types

writing a speech outline

The structure of your outline may vary slightly depending on the type of speech you are giving. For a more informative speech, your outline should include a wealth of factual data and statistics that provide a thorough understanding of the subject matter. Regardless of the type, the basic components remain similar, providing a skeleton on which to build your unique message.

Practical Tips for Effective Speech Writing

  • Keep it Simple: Use simple language and short sentences to make your speech easy to follow.
  • Practice Transitions: Smooth transitions between points help maintain the flow of your speech and keep the audience engaged. A simple transitional phrase can effectively move the audience from one point to another.
  • Engage with Stories: People remember stories much better than facts. Including a personal story or a historical event that ties into your main points can make your speech more relatable and memorable.

In crafting your speech outline, consider the needs and expectations of your audience. The more you understand their interests and the context in which you're speaking, the more tailored and impactful your speech will be.

Building Confidence Through Preparation

Writing a speech outline isn't just about organizing your notes; it's about building confidence. By investing time in preparing your outline, you assure not only the clarity of your message but also your own composure during delivery. Keep refining your outline until it reflects the clear path you wish to take your audience on, making your public speaking both powerful and persuasive.

Enhancing Your Outline with Advanced Techniques

attentive audiences

Utilize Visual Aids:

  • Integrate Multimedia: To make your speech more engaging, consider incorporating visual aids such as slides, charts, or videos. These can help illustrate complex points and keep the audience visually engaged.
  • Reinforce Key Points: Visuals should complement your spoken words, not replace them. Use them to highlight important data or to make a significant impact with a memorable image.

Personalize Your Message:

  • Connect Personally: Share additional personal stories or make a humorous reference that relates to your topic. This personal touch can make your speech more relatable and helps to sustain the audience's interest.
  • Address the Audience Directly: Customize your message by specifically inviting the audience into the discussion. Ask rhetorical questions or seek audience participation to create a dynamic interaction.

Conclude with Impact:

  • Recap with Power: Summarize not just by repeating points, but by tying them together into one clear, overarching message. Use a neat summary or an effective transitional sentence that leads into your closing remarks.
  • End on a High Note: Whether it's a call to action, a thought-provoking question, or a powerful quote, ensure your closing lines leave a lasting impression.

Mastering the Delivery

While the content of your speech is foundational, the delivery can significantly influence its effectiveness. Here are some tips to master the art of delivery:

  • Practice Out Loud: Rehearse your speech several times. This helps not only in memorizing the flow but also in identifying areas where the speech may need adjustments. Using a teleprompter app can be particularly beneficial during these practice sessions. Such apps can help you maintain eye contact with your "audience" while ensuring that you stick to your script. This mimics the experience of live speaking and can be a valuable tool for smoothing out your delivery.
  • Mind Your Timing: Keep track of your speaking speed and pauses. Make sure your speech fits within the allotted time without rushing through important details.
  • Adjust Based on Feedback: If possible, practice in front of a small audience or a speech coach to get feedback. Use this input to refine both your outline and delivery.

Leveraging Feedback and Iteration

After delivering your speech, take the opportunity to gather feedback. This can come from audience reactions, professional critiques, or your own self-assessment. Each speech is a learning experience, and every piece of feedback is valuable for improving future presentations.

  • Reflect on the Delivery: Consider what worked well and what didn’t. Were there points where the audience seemed disengaged?
  • Iterate on Content: Based on feedback, you might find that certain parts of your speech need more detail or clearer explanations. Adjust your outline accordingly for future use.

Encourage Engagement and Further Learning

As we wrap up our discussion on how to write a speech outline, remember that your journey with public speaking doesn't end here. Encourage further interaction by inviting comments, sharing your speech on social media, or offering additional resources on your website. Each speech is an opportunity to grow and connect with others who share your interests or could benefit from your insights.

In summary, creating a compelling speech outline is about much more than filling in bullet points—it’s about creating a pathway to engage, inform, and persuade your audience. Achieving success in public speaking can be achieved by carefully organizing every section of your speech and honing your delivery technique. Prepare thoroughly, establish a personal connection with your audience, and communicate your point clearly and passionately.

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