Chapter 3: Preparing for Your First Speech
If the specific purpose mentions words such as “causes,” “origins,” “roots of,” “foundations,” “basis,” “grounds,” or “source,” it is a causal order; if it mentions words such as “effects,” “results,” “outcomes,” “consequences,” or “products,” it is effect order. If it mentions both, it would of course be cause/effect order. This example shows a cause/effect pattern:
Specific Purpose: To explain to my classmates the causes and effects of schizophrenia.
I. Schizophrenia has genetic, social, and environmental causes.
II. Schizophrenia has educational, relational, and medical effects. It should be noted, however, that a specific purpose like this example is very broad and probably not practical for your class speeches; it would be better to focus on just causes or effects, or even just one type of cause
(such as genetic causes of schizophrenia) or one type of effect (relational or social). These two examples show a speech that deals with causes only and effects only, respectively.
Specific Purpose: To explain to my fellow Biology 1107 students the origin of the Ebola epidemic in Africa in 2014.
I. The outbreak began in March 2014 in Guinea with the death of one-year-old child who played in a tree with infected bats.
II. The virus next spread to Sierra Leone and Liberia.
III. In Fall of 2014 it spread to the U.S. and Europe by travelers from Liberia.
Specific Purpose: To describe to my classmates the effects of a diagnosis of autism on a child’s life.
I. An autism diagnosis will affect the child’s educational plan.
II. An autism diagnosis will affect the child’s social existence.
III. An autism diagnosis will affect the child’s family relationships.
The problem-solution pattern will be explored in more depth in the chapter on Persuasive Speaking because that is where it is used the most. Then, we will see that there are variations on it. The principle behind problem-solution pattern is that if you explain a problem to an audience, you should not leave them hanging without solutions. Problems are discussed for understanding and to do something about them.
Additionally, when you want to persuade someone to act, the first reason is usually that something is wrong! Even if you wanted your friends to go out to get some dinner, and they have recently eaten, you will probably be less successful because there is no problem for them—they are not hungry. Then you would have to come up with a new problem, such as you will miss their presence, which they may or may not see as a problem for them.
In another real-life example, let’s say you want the members of the school board to provide more funds for music at the three local high schools in your county. What is missing because music or arts are not funded? What is the problem?
Specific Purpose: To persuade the members of the school board to take action to support the music program at the school.
I. There is a problem with eliminating extracurricular music pro- grams in high schools.
A. Students who do not have extracurricular music in their lives have lower SAT scores.
B. Schools that do not have extracurricular music programs have more gang violence and juvenile delinquency.
II. The solution is to provide $200,000 in the budget to sustain extra- curricular music in our high schools.
A. $120,000 would go to bands.
B. $80,000 would go to choral programs.
Of course, this is a simple outline and you would need to provide evidence to support the arguments, but it shows how problem-solution works.
Psychologically, it makes more sense to use problem-solution rather than solution-problem. The audience will be more motivated to listen if you address needs, deficiencies, or problems in their lives rather than giving them solutions first.
A variation of the problem-solution pattern, and one that sometimes re- quires more in-depth exploration of an issue, is the “problem-cause-solution” pattern. If you were giving a speech on future extinction of certain animal species, it would be insufficient to just explain that numbers of species are about to become extinct. Your second point would logically have to explain the cause behind this happening. Is it due to climate change, some type of pollution, encroachment on habitats, disease, or some other rea- son? In many cases, you can’t really solve a problem without first identify- ing what caused the problem. This is similar to the organizational pattern called Monroe’s Motivated Sequence (German, Gronbeck, Ehninger & Monroe, 2012), which will be fully explained in Chapter 13. The Mon-
roe’s Motivated Sequence requires a discussion of cause to create a logical speech.
Specific Purpose: To persuade my audience that the age to obtain a driver’s license in the state of Georgia should be raised to 18.
I. There is a problem in this country with young drivers getting into serious automobile accidents leading to many preventable deaths.
II. One of the primary causes of this is younger drivers’ inability to remain focused and make good decisions due to incomplete brain development.
III. One solution that will help reduce the number of young drivers involved in accidents would be to raise the age for obtaining a driver’s license to 18.
Some Additional Principles of Organization
It is possible that you may use more than one of these organizational pat- terns within a single speech. For example, the main points of your speech could be one organizational pattern and the subpoints a different one. In the spatial example above about the Native American nations of Georgia, the subpoints might be chronological (emphasizing their development over time), or they could be topical (explaining aspects of their culture).
You should also note that in all of the examples to this point (which have been kept simple for the purpose of explanation), each main point is relatively equal in emphasis; therefore, the time spent on each should be equal as well. While you are not obliged to spend exactly the same amount of time on each main point, the time spent (and the importance of the main point) should be about the same. You would not want your first Main Point to be 30 seconds long, the second one to be 90 seconds, and the third 3 minutes. For example:
Specific Purpose: To explain to my classmates the rules of baseball.
I. Baseball has rules about equipment.
II. Baseball has rules about numbers of players.
III. Baseball has rules about play.
Main Point II is not really equal in importance to the other two. There is a great deal you could say about the equipment and even more about the rules of play, but the number of players would take you about ten seconds to say. If Main Point II were “Baseball has rules about the positions on the field,” that would make more sense and be closer in level of importance to the other two.
To give another example, let’s say you want to give a commemorative (or tribute) speech about a local veteran whom you admire.
I. James Owens is an admirable person because he earned the Silver Star in the Korean War.
II. James Owens is an admirable person because he served our com- munity as a councilman for 25 years.
III. James Owens is an admirable person because he rescued five pup- pies that were abandoned in his backyard.
Although Main Point III is a good thing to do, it’s really not equal to Main Points I and II in importance or in the amount of time you would need to spend on it.
Earlier in the chapter, we said that organizing a speech involves grouping, labeling, and ordering. Let’s address labeling here. You will also notice that in most of the examples so far, the main points are phrased using a similar sentence structure. For example, “The first chamber in the blood flow is…” “The second chamber in the blood flow is…” This simple repetition of sentence structure is called parallelism, a technique useful for speakers and helpful for the audience in remembering information. It is not absolutely necessary to use it and will not always be relevant, but par- allelism should be used when appropriate and effective.
In relation to the way each main point is written, notice that they are full grammatical sentences, although sometimes short and simple. For purposes of preparation, this is a good habit, and your instructor will probably require you to write your main points in full sentences. Your instructor may also expect you to write your subpoints in complete sentences as well, but he or she will discuss that with you.
Finally, in the way you phrase the main points, be sure they are adequate labeled and clearly explain your content. Students are often tempted to write main points as directions to themselves, “Talking about the health department” or “Mention the solution.” This is not helpful for you, nor will your instructor be able to tell what you mean by those phrases. “The health department provides many services for low-income residents” says something we can all understand.
We have included examples of outlines at the ends of chapters 12, 13, and We have tried to give examples of different kinds of formats, but individual instructors prefer specific format for outlines. Your instructor should give you examples of how they want the outline to be developed and for- matted, and you should follow their directions.