The final step is to plan a course of action where you prepare and practice. This may seem simple but this step is perhaps the most important. Do not plan to memorize a speech, nor should it be read from a script. The best way to plan for a speech is to write a brief topical outline on a single page of paper or three to five notecards. The following is a brief topical outline format that will help you organize an informative speech.
I. Introduction / Greeting (good morning, afternoon, evening)
- Topic/Thesis Statement
- Credibility (what makes you a trustworthy and expert speaker on this topic)
- Relevance (why is this topic important to the audience)
- Point 1 (with evidence)
- Point 2 (with evidence)
- Point 3 (with evidence)
III. Conclusion / Notifier (in conclusion, to summarize, etc.)
- Recap/Summary of topic and main points
- Relevance Statement about why the topic is important for the Audience
Note: If index cards are being used, do not place more than one section on a single card.
Practice is another critical component of planning for a successful speech. Even if you know and like your topic you will still need to practice. You must practice for time, content, and delivery. Your speech must not be too long or too short but should fall within an acceptable range for the purpose of the speech. For example, informative speeches are typically between three to five minutes. When you practice for content, listen to the order of information and question if it is interesting, informative, meaningful, and understandable. Remember that you can not possibly speak on all there is to know on your topic in three to five minutes. It is possible to educate, enlighten, interest, and entertain in that amount of time, however. When you practice for delivery, consider the speech rate, vocalics, eye contact, and body language. When practicing, keep in mind that you will be more critical of yourself than your audience could ever be of you.
In summary, most people experience speech anxiety to some degree. Learn to think of the arousal associated with public speaking as exitement rather than anxiety so that you feel enthusiastic about public speaking rather than nervous. Engage your audience in an interactive presentation that reflects your plan and preparation. In short, if you can understand what speech anxiety is, manage your physical and psychological responses, and plan a course of action you will be able to have a more positive and productive public speaking experience.