How to structure your speech
The triplets rule
As Dale Carnegie phrased it, “Tell them what you’re going to tell them. Then tell it to them. Then tell them what you told them”. It may sound as a cliché but once you told people something three times, chances are higher that they will actually remember it. So the Golden Rule of structure is:
Repeat your message 3 times: in the Introduction, the Body, and the Conclusion
Clearly, each iteration has to be different: The introduction should be brief, the main body has to be more elaborated, and the conclusion should be much shorter than the body but is normally longer than the introduction.
Your goal should be to use the introduction to present the main points of your speech, so the audience knows what to expect. Then, in the body each point should be developed into a full argument (see chapter 2). The conclusion should be used to re-iterate the main points thus eliminating any misunderstandings, and to give the audience a perspective of what was said.
Whenever you start or finish a point, it is important to flag the audience so they recognize the change of subject. This helps the audience understand which part of the speech you are in. Flag posting provides reassurance to the listeners that they are not lost, and also an indication of how much longer your speech will take.
Initially this should be simple and straightforward – “We have discussed the economic aspect, now let’s look at the moral aspect”, but as you develop your rhetorics you can make your flag postings more subtle.
Call to Action
Here the rule is quite simple – never get off the stage without asking your audience to do something.
Public speaking is rarely a goal, but rather it is a mean to a goal. Whether the goal is to persuade, to teach or to sell, in order to take full advantage of the opportunity you’ve been given to speak, it is important that your audience not only understand and agree, but that this understanding takes a more concrete form.
How to do it? After summarizing your speech, after you’ve reviewed what you said, give your audience goals and targets. It can be to approve your plan, acquit your client, buy your product, join a Facebook group or write a letter to a politician – the request can be whatever promotes your objectives, but never – EVER – finish your speech without asking for something.