How to Write an Outline Before a Public Speech


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Write an Outline

Giving a public speech can be challenging and daunting. It doesn’t matter if it’s a dinner toast or a business meeting presentation, many people fail to deliver their speeches properly, and the reason is almost always the same. They neglect their preparation, and hence arrive unprepared. Anxiety kicks in and the ideas they thought they had sorted out in their minds simply vanish. 

This is why you should always write an outline before doing any kind of public speech.

Below, we’ll show you what an outline is and how to write one for a winning public speech. Let’s take a closer look.

What is a Public Speech Outline?

Before we learn how to write it, let’s take a quick look at what an outline is and why you need it so badly. 

What is a Public Speech Outline

An outline of your public speech is a written summary of all the key ideas you want to share, organized logically. It's almost like a map that guides you from one point to another, helping you paint the picture you want, present arguments, build your case, and keep your audience's attention.

Having an outline for a public speech is important because it helps you truly prepare for it. And, if you’re in the 25% of people who experience fear of public speaking - you’ll need solid preparation to help overcome that alone.

Having a strong and detailed outline means that you’ve:

  • brainstormed ideas

  • selected the key ones and prioritized them

  • considered the order in which to present your ideas

  • created a visual presentation for yourself

  • objectively edited and improved upon your speech

It’s clear that an outline is key to delivering a successful public speech, and beneficial for the whole process on so many levels.

Steps for Writing an Outline for your Public Speech

Now that we understand the importance of a solid public speech outline, it's time to learn how to write one. We created a step-by-step guide to help you nail your outline every time, no matter the occasion or to whom you'll be presenting.

Illustrate the Audience 

The first step in the process of writing a public speaking outline is illustrating your audience. That means that you need to focus on the people you’ll be giving the speech to.

Why is this important? 

Simply, you need to adjust your speech to the audience to make sure they understand what you're saying, and that their perspective is taken into account. So, try answering the following questions:

  • Who are my main target audience?

  • What are their jobs/roles/relation to me?

  • Why are they listening to my speech?

  • What are they expecting from me?

The more you know about them, the better you’ll be able to prepare for the speech.

Set the Key Objective

Next, you need to decide what you want to achieve with your speech. It needs to have a clear set purpose, otherwise you have no way to measure success.

Your objective will depend on the event or the occasion. Here are some examples:

  • pitch a new business idea and receive funding

  • introduce a new product and close a sale

  • make people at your friend's wedding laugh

  • inspire young children to take action in their community

You get the idea. Once you set your goal, you’ll be able to focus on it while writing your outline and build towards it from top to bottom.

Add the Arguments

Your next step is to think about achieving this goal through the arguments or ideas you’ll use in your speech. Simply put, you need to figure out a way to reach your objective by carefully selecting words and ideas.

Let’s say your goal is to convince investors to back your business idea. You’ll need arguments such as:

  • how original is this idea and what’s the competition

  • what's the gap in the market that it's filling

  • how do you plan on making it work

  • why it’s going to be a success

The same goes for any other type of goal you have – you need to back up your claims and think of a way to deliver your message in an assured manner.

Set the Tone

The final step of the preparation process, before you start writing, is setting the tone. You should decide what tone you will be using consistently in your speech to be sure you come across as professional and persuasive.

If you’re not sure whether your tone is consistent, you can find help at Trust My Paper. Their professional writers can edit and rewrite your outline. The important thing is that you remain effective in your speech.

Create a Structure

Now that you’re done with all the preparation, it’s time to start writing. The first draft of your outline will simply list your ideas logically and create the order that you’ll use to build your speech.

So, you’ll need to decide on a number of key ideas or arguments you’ll be presenting. For each one, you’ll prepare the following:

  • key supporting arguments

  • bullet points on what to cover

  • structure of the paragraph or segment that covers it

Then, create the most logical order for these ideas. Add the introduction and conclusion, and decide what each idea will express. Put it all on paper, and you have the first draft of your outline.

Add Details

Once the initial draft is set, it’s best to let it rest for a while and come back to it once you’ve given it some more thought and you’re ready for improvements. 

To further develop your speech outline, you’ll need to add details to every segment you’ve included in the draft. These details are:

  • facts, data, or evidence

  • stories

  • examples

These details will help you build your speech outline and finalize the whole written piece. 


Now that you've got the outline finalized, there's still some work left to do. You don't want any mistakes, inconsistencies, or weak spots to ruin the impression you're trying to make.

So, go back to the beginning and try to read your outline objectively. Think as if it was written by someone else. What would you say to this person? Would you have any suggestions?

Final Thoughts

Yes, giving a public speech can be stressful, and many people fear doing anything like that. But with proper preparation and a willingness to overcome the anxiety, anyone can do it. A great outline will help you organize your thoughts and win over the entire audience.

Use the tips we’ve shared above to write a brilliant public speech outline, and you’ll love every moment of speaking to your audience. 

About the author:

Donald Fomby is a PR specialist and a blogger at Best Essays Education. He writes to encourage, inspire, and teach people how to use the public space like professionals. He loves sharing practical tips and simple guiding steps.


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