Speech Study Guide

4.3 Speech Organization Good organization is important to help a speaker appear competent, focused, and knowledgeable. Listeners perceive well-organized speakers as more credible. A well-organized speech promotes learning, retention, and persuasion. It is one of the best ways for a speaker to let an audience know that their time, thoughts, and opinions are valued. The quality of organization depends on clarity, simplicity of the speaker’s ideas, and appropriateness of the topic to the situation and audience. Well- organized speeches possess these characteristics: clarity, simplicity, and appropriateness. An idea has to be complete to be clear. A speaker’s purpose and thesis statement must exhibit clarity. Even if the purpose and thesis statements are clear, the main points of a speech may not be clear. There are different patterns of organization that speakers should utilize to help clarify their ideas and outlines. A component of clarity is the notion of simplicity. Simplicity is an element of audience adaptation. An audience has to be able to understand a speaker’s ideas if the audience is to respond positively. Ideas need to be stated fully and accurately, and in a manner that all listeners in an audience can understand and retain. To achieve this goal, a speaker needs to ask themselves if their ideas are stated in the most basic way possible. It is easy for a speaker to include too much or too little information for one main point. If a speaker includes too much information, the audience will not be able to understand what the main point is; however, if a speaker includes too little information, the audience will not be able to understand what the speaker is saying either. An effective orator must account for the fact that what may be simple to one audience may not be simple to another. A speaker should account for varying audiences and situations. The level of complexity of the speech depends on the situation. The more suitable a speech is to a particular audience, the better the audience will receive what the speaker is saying. If a speaker is addressing their co-workers versus elementary school children, this changes the suitability of the situation. If an audience has not had their basic physiological needs met, it is not suitable for a speaker to talk about tax breaks for the wealthy. A simple way to examine the suitability of a situation is to examine the setting of the speech and what comprises the audience’s background, experiences, and expectations. In order to organize a speech, patterns of organization are utilized, which can help the author connect ideas. Depending on the setting and situation, different organizational patterns are more useful and appropriate. The most commonly used organizational patterns are: chronological or sequential, spatial, categorical, climactic, cause-and-effect, problem-solving, and narrative. One of the most commonly used organization patterns is the chronological pattern. Chronological order begins with a specific point in time and moves forward or backward, depending on the subject, and is useful for a variety of topics that deal with processes and historical events. Chronological order is easy for many audiences to follow because it is inherently logical. Similar to chronological order, sequential patterns are best employed when a speaker wants their audience to understand a step- by-step procedure or process. Examples may include how to apply for programs, how to adopt a child, or the steps necessary to start a new business.


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