Creating Your Presentation
Preparing a speech takes a great deal of work. Think about approaching the process in stages, however, and it will be less intimidating. Below, we outline five steps you may use to direct your speech writing process. Beneath these steps you will find our complete list of Speaking Center guide sheets.
Need an overview of the whole process first? Here is a good introduction to public speaking.
Step 1: Define the purpose of your speech.
While the speeches you prepare for a class assignment will most likely be delivered to your classmates, ALL speeches your prepare and deliver (in and outside the classroom) must be tailored for a specific audience to accomplish your goal successfully.
Therefore, before you begin writing your speech, ask yourself these questions:
- Who is my intended audience?
- What do they know about my topic?
- Why are they listening to my presentation?
- How can I establish a connection with this audience?
To assist you with this part of the process, check out the following Speaking Center guide sheets:
Step 2: Become knowledgeable on your specific topic.
The more you understand and talk about your presentation topic, the more clearly you will articulate your message during your speech. Even better, any speech anxiety you may be experiencing will likely subside!
The following links and guide sheets can help direct you through the sometimes ambiguous process of research:
Step 3: Organize your presentation with an outline.
This step is where most speakers begin to experience difficulty. To be successful in your speech, consider the outcome from the previous two speech writing steps, then clarify your Thesis Statement (link) and identify the main ideas (see the Extemporaneous Speaking guide sheet) that either further explicate or support your thesis statement. Organize this information into a Basic Outline. Beneath the main points on your outline, you may break down the idea further, or assign your supportive material (i.e., your research/evidence) that validates your claims.
Other USM Speaking Center guide sheets that may help you through this step are listed below:
Step 4: Use presentation aids (e.g., PowerPoint and Prezi) wisely
AFTER the speech is organized and the outline is written, consider whether you specific messages that require enhancing. Far too often speakers (novice and experienced, alike) use visual aids poorly. Review the following resources to help bring your visual aid skills into the 21st Century:
Step 5: Practice, Edit, and Repeat!
Just as you would work with drafts of a paper, you must also go through and refine your speech outline. As you edit your speech outline think about your clarity, language, organization, audience adaptation, and time limits.
Most importantly, make sure you have enough time to practice the presentation several times. Give yourself time to talk through the speech on your own and in front of an audience (a friend, roommate, or Speaking Center tutor, for example). If you have visual aid, you must incorporate it into these practices.
The following links and resources will help you through this process:
Step 6: Other Communication and Speaking Circumstances
Not every public speaking or communication circumstance you will encounter will involve just you speaking in front of classmates. The following guide sheets are helpful for group presentations, job interviews, and other speaking engagements.
- Group Presentations
- Conducting an Interview
- Leading a Discussion
- Manuscript Delivery
- Online Oral Communication
- Oral Interpretation
- Presenting a Paper
- Speaking as an International Student