Tuesday, November 22, 2005

Adv. ESL/IEI: Great Speeches: Structuring a Great Speech


Stephen E. Lucas is Evjue-Bascom Professor in the Humanities and Professor of Communication Arts at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. In 1999, he surveyed his peers to compile a list of the top 100 American speeches of the twentieth century. The list, co-compiled with Prof. Martin Medhurst of Texas A&M University, reflects the opinions of 137 leading scholars of American public address.
Lucas is also the author of The Quotable George Washington and a textbook, The Art of Public Speaking. Here he discusses good speechmaking, and the speaking skills of William Jennings Bryan and Clarence Darrow.
This is good, basic information for students, and can help them organize their thoughts more coherently. For example:
"One basic structure for a speech falls into three parts: an introduction, a body, and a conclusion. Each part is designed to do something different. You need to have an introduction that gets the audience's attention and lets people know about the importance of the subject, why it's important for them to listen. It makes a first impression. In journalism they call it a "hook": something that's going to pull your audience in to your speech. The introduction should also reveal the speech's topic and give the audience some idea of the main points to be discussed.
The body of the speech is where the speaker develops his or her main points -- the big ideas of the speech. You should probably limit yourself to 4 or 5 main points in a speech, whether it's a 10-minute or a 60-minute speech. That will give you time to develop the points you're making. If you have too many main points, the audience will have trouble sorting them out and you may find that you aren't able to develop them in enough depth to be clear and convincing."