Basic Elements of Public Speaking

Include these basic elements to make your speech effective.

Every speech is made up of basic elements of public speaking. Understanding and including each of those elements can make a bad speech good, or a good speech great. Here's three of the most basic elements and the considerations that each one should address.

  1. Introduction. Most people don't pay enough attention to the introduction of a speech. The introduction is one of the most important parts of the speech, because if you lose your audience at the beginning, getting them back can be next to impossible. Here's some things that you should have in your introduction.
    • Attention. Arguably the most important part of the introduction, you must get your audience's attention. A joke, a quote, a startling statistc, any number of things can serve the purpose well.
    • Purpose. Why are you speaking to them? What will make listening worth their time? You might present your purpose implicitly rather than explicitly, but you must present it somehow.
    • Credibility. Many speakers neglect this part of an introduction, but depending on your topic, it could be very important. Why are you qualified to talk on the things you are talking about? Don't be arrogant, but be certain that your audience trusts and believes in you and your knowledge.
    • Orientation. Is there any essential background your audience needs to know before you get to the meat of your speech?
  2. Body. This is the main content portion of your speech. Exactly what you need to include will depend on the purpose of your speech, but here are a few essential elements.
    • Organization. Your audience needs to be able to follow you. Be certain that you have some sort of pattern.
    • Transitions. Don't just jump from point to point, but smoothly move from one issue to the next. Transitions are the 'bridges' of your speech. Without them, your audience will get disoriented and you might leave them behind.
    • Development. Your points should build on each other, combining into one grand whole. Go from simple to more complex, ending with the most powerful.
    • Climax. At some point, your speech should come to a head. Everything should come together, your audience's emotions should be peaked right alongside you, and you should largely fulfill your purpose in giving the speech. Developing a climax is, in my opinion, the hardest part of speech writing (and the most powerful of the basic elements of public speaking).
  3. Conclusion. Here, you should wrap up any loose ends. This is the final part of your speech, and also the part your audience is most likely to remember. Be certain to include:
    • A final closing example. Drive your point home with one more powerful demonstration.
    • Call to action. What should your audience do now? If you weren't trying to persuade them to do something, what is the most important point that they should take away from your speech?
    • Why it mattered. Briefly recap what you said, reminding your audience why it mattered.

Master these basic elements of public speaking and you'll write great speeches worthy of the best orators!

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