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SOM 310
Preparing an Outline for your Informative Oral Presentation

Speakers outline their talks because preparing outlines encourages both "invention" and "arrangement."

We think of invention as generating ideas and then listing or recording them -- often in random order as they occur to us, as for example, in "brainstorming," one of the most common invention techniques.

Alternatively, we think of arrangement as a method of putting ideas in order, so that the contents of the talk form a pattern that a listener can follow, understand logically, and remember.

The following is a standard outline of foundational elements or strategies that are commonly used in oral presentations:


  1. Introduction
    1. Attention-getting strategy -- visual aids stories, rhetorical questions, etc.
    2. Ethos-gaining strategy
    3. Rapport-establishing strategy
    4. Background,framing, purpose and/or relevance statements
    5. Thesis: Full sentence or two on your focus, issue, topic, theme, or primary argument
    6. Preview of remainder of talk
  2. Body of talk
    1. First point or claim in support of thesis or in elaboration of issue, problem, argument
      1. supporting evidenc
        1. facts
        2. descriptions of experience
      2. example or analogy
      3. possible objections analyzed and/or refuted
      4. source of information
    2. Second point or claim ...
      1. supporting evidence
        1. facts
        2. descriptions of experience
      2. example or analogy
      3. possible objections analyzed and/or refuted
      4. source of information
    3. Third point or claim ...
      1. supporting evidence
      1. facts
      2. descriptions of experience
    4. example or analogy
    5. possible objections analyzed and/or refuted
    6. source of information
  3. Etc...


  1. Re-statement of thesis
  2. Statement of possible actions, next steps (not persuasively, in informative talk)
  3. Memory and attention-reinforcing strategies (quote, anecdote, etc.)
  4. Discussion of limitations, missing elements
  5. Closing or summary statements

Of course not all the elements listed above are elements are included in every speech. For example, if you have a five minute talk, you may only spend a minute on the introduction, a minute on the conclusion and three minutes on the body of the talk, so the number of strategies you employ is limited by time.

Please note also that the body of the speech may employ a number of arrangement designs. That is, you may organize the content by employing one or more of the following patterns:

  1. chronological patterns (time)
  2. historical patterns (in which social and economic evidence/elements are introduced)
  3. geogographical or spatial patterns (in which the topic is framed in the context of s specific situation, location, or direction)
  4. topical patterns (as for example, when listing and describing the various positions that various groups have taken on an issue or problem)
  5. problem-solution patterns (as in cases and consulting reports)
  6. causal patterns (in which exploration of causes involves determining historical orignination as well as precipitating and perpetuating causes and their effects)
  7. sequential patterns (as in procedural reports or demonstrations, in which steps are specified)

* These two patterns are most apt to be employed in organizing an issue-oriented speech.

Directions: Prepare a 1-2 page outline of your speech. Use complete sentences wherever appropriate, or clear and complete phrases for sub-elements.

Ex. Title (Phrased as an issue): Should Business Care about Government Funding of Public Broadcasting?

  1. Introduction: With the changing political scene in the U.S. Congress, public broadcasting is facing the threat of significant cuts in funding. Should the business community lobby for continued funding? Why or why not?
    1. For an attention-getting strategy I'm going to use a chart showing current sources of funding for public radio and public television, and depict what the projected budget cuts might mean. This is also an ethos-gaining strategy because I will cite the source of my statistics to establish that I have conducted research.
    2. My thesis is that the Republicans are going to reduce funding, and my talk will present several positions on the issue and the arguments offered by people or groups holding each position.
    3. This topic is relevant because it could offer a new source for business advertising, or, it could work against some business interests, especially non-profits and environmentally aware organizations. As management majors we are all apt to be affected by this issue in some way, but this issue is especially relevant to marketing majors.
    4. In the rest of my talk I'll present the positions on the issue, and the strengths and weaknesses of each position, concuding with a re-statement of the issue and why it affects business interests.
  2. In this part I'll present the position of the first group involved -- the Republicans in Congress, stating their reasons for wanting to cut funding for public broadcasting.
    1. Reasons why Republicans want to cut funding -- Contract with America
    2. Strengths of their arguments
      1. We need to make serious budget cuts -- no project is sacred.
      2. Public broadcasting can raise money by selling air time just like the networks; some companies already provide support to public broadcasting programming.
    3. Weaknesses of their position
      1. public broadcasting will become even more commercial
        1. it may and lose its impartial and deeper converage of significant events
        2. more and more air time will consist of commercials as in network broadcasting
      2. rural areas not served by networks or large stations will suffer
    4. In this part I'll present the position of the concerns of public broadcasting professionals and concerned parties who want continued federal funding.
      1. Reasons why public broadcasting does not want cuts made -- high cost of developing educational programs, and wanting to continue in–depth coverage on controversial topics.
      2. Strengths of their arguments
        1. the general public will not provide money to create programs like Sesame Street, and if businesses put up the money, they will want to make profits, reducing the educational quality of such programming
        2. some companies who might want to support public broadcasting when it suits them could withdraw support when hard-hitting news coverage finds them guilty of polluting the environment, making ongoing funding of fair news coverage problematic (curtailing freedom of the press)
      3. Weaknesses of their position -- etc...
        1. In this part I'll present the position of business experts who wonder whether it is in the interests of the business community to support continued government funding of public broadcasting.
          1. Reasons for and against vary depending on whether for–profit or non–profit organization
          2. Reasons for: new sources for business advertising
          3. Reasons against: low-key altruistic image of some businesses may be affected negatively
          4. Relevant market research
          5. Ethical concerns
        2. In the conclusion I'll list programming that might be affected, and some of the companies that already provide support for programming
          1. Re-statement of my thesis -- that cuts are probable -- and summarize the positions
          2. Ask the question: What should informed business people do about this issue?
          3. Point out that non-profit organizations are a growing segment of the business community, in which many SOM graduates
          Last Revised: 8-15-97/EdC