Public Speaking Tips for Authors Part 2 of 3: How to Outline Your Presentation

Public Speaking Podium

In part 1 of the “Public Speaking Tips for Authors” series we talked about questions you should ask your host to help you prepare. These questions are designed to help make an educated guess about what the audience’s expectations are and how you can deliver your message in a way that will engage them and make them want to listen.

Now that you have an idea of what you are going to talk about and who you are talking to, it is time to organize your thoughts into an outline.

It’s safe to assume that during your presentation you may adjust the outline to suit the needs of the audience and time constraints, but it’s always helpful to at least have an outline to work with initially. Otherwise, how would you know what to change or adapt if you don’t have an original plan?

Use the following tips to outline your presentation:

Build the body of your presentation first.

  • Break the presentation topic into 3-5 main ideas or steps that your audience will need to know in order to understand your topic. These will be part of the body of your speech. The ideas should be organized in a way that makes the information clear and easy to understand. Your book’s chapter titles may come in handy here.
  • Below each main idea or step, include all the supporting information you will need to explain the idea. These can be stories, facts, statistics, definitions, examples or anything else that will help the audience understand the main idea. Now that you have planned the body of the speech it is time to plan the introduction. The content inside the chapters you selected from your book should have all the information you need. However, you can always add more to make sure the information applies to your specific audience.

Next, plan your introduction.

  • Choose a creative way to capture your audience’s attention when you first begin to speak. You may decide to open with a startling statistic, a funny story, a personal anecdote or even an interesting quote. The primary goal is to say or do something that will make your audience want to listen while gradually drawing them into your topic.
  • After you have gained their attention, clearly state what you want them to think, feel, do or believe after hearing your speech.
  • Now tell your audience about your life experiences that qualify you to speak on this topic (this would also be a great time to mention the fact that you are an author…)
  • List each of the main points you will share during your speech so that everyone will know what to expect.
  • Say something that lets your audience know that you are transitioning into your first main point (e.g. “Now let’s get started…” or “Let’s begin with talking about…”)

Now it is time to plan your presentation conclusion.

  • Repeat the second part of your introduction where you clearly stated what you wanted them to think, feel, do or believe after hearing your speech. “When I started this presentation I told you that my goal was to persuade you that…”
  • Repeat the list of main points that you shared during your speech. “Today we talked about point a, point b and point c.”
  • End the speech with a memorable statement. You can close your speech with a startling statistic, a funny story, personal anecdote or even an interesting quote.

For my visual people, click here to see an example of completed speech outline. The example outlines a speech about the battle of the sexes and was written by one of my former public speaking students (of course I removed any information that could identify the student). If you’re interested in having an outline that you can type directly into, click here for a Word 2010 doc. (If you need the file in a different version, try freefileconvert.com.)

The outline strategy above is pretty much the same strategy used by all successful public speakers. I highly recommend visiting TED.com to see some amazing examples on everything from politics to innovation.

When you think about it, the speech structure above closely resembles the structure of a paper you might have written in an English class. 

Why do you think the speech structure and English paper structure are so similar? 

Danielle Fetherson

Danielle helps aspiring authors become published authors. She believes that everyone has at least one book on the inside of them that can make a positive impact on someone else's life. If you have been thinking about writing a book, learn how to start your book today with the free resources at DanielleFetherson.com.

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