Join Judy Steiner-Williams for an in-depth discussion in this video Composing a thesis, part of Writing Speeches.
- Once you have decided on your topic and a specific purpose statement, your next step is to compose your exact thesis statement or to state the main idea. All speeches need a clearly worded statement telling the audience specifically the key focus of the speech. It does not just announce your topic. It must also include what you plan to say about your topic and the order in which you plan to say it. It may be the one most difficult sentence you will write for your entire speech.
If this one sentence isn't strong, the entire speech will have a weak organization. A warning note before we continue. The word thesis is generally used for persuasive speeches, ones for which you will have to take a stand and then support that stand with evidence. That key statement for an informative speech may just be referred to as a main idea or a preview. I'm going to use the word thesis throughout the course for both persuasive and informational speeches.
Even though you need to write your thesis now to give you a clear writing direction, it will be a work in progress. You will return to it as you write the speech to verify that you are still including in your speech what you said you were going to. Or you may even decide to change the thesis statement. It may be the first sentence you write and the last sentence you rewrite. Generally, the thesis will be one complete sentence that includes your topic and the key points you're going to present in your speech.
Or in other words, your ideas or subtopics. The statement is sometimes referred to as a road map of the speech or the umbrella that covers all points in the speech. Whichever analogy you prefer, you're audience should be able to tell from your thesis specifically what your speech is about. You help your reader understand both what your main points will be and the order in which they will be presented. The thesis should focus on the main idea of your speech rather than on you as a speaker.
So first person, I, me, or my, for example, won't be used. Use firm language. Should be a statement rather than a question. You're answering the question rather than asking it. And be concise. Contrast the wording of these unacceptable theses: My speech is on rock climbing. How can a rock climber be safe? Lots of people belay the incorrect way and not everyone checks his equipment to be sure it's in top condition. Some climbers use bad techniques, all of which can result in unsafe rock climbing.
To this acceptable one for the informative speech: Having a qualified belayer, checking your equipment, and using correct techniques are three necessary safety precautions for a rock climber. Or for a persuasive speech: Rock climbing can be as safe as walking across the street if the belayer is qualified, if the equipment is in good condition, and if correct techniques are used. Also look at these three unacceptable theses for the dog topic: My speech is on dog grooming.
How can dog owners reduce the cost of pet ownership? Or grooming a dog will require at least three or four different brushes, clippers, trimmers, to be used on a dog's toenails, hair, and whiskers. Now look at an effective one for the informational speech on dog grooming. To groom a dog, you will need the right equipment and supplies, a safe place to groom, and the necessary time to do a thorough job. Or this speech to persuade dog owners to groom their dogs: Dog grooming costs can be more affordable by investing in the necessary supplies, using the right equipment, and taking time to be a do-it-yourself dog groomer.
Why is this one statement so important? Because it guides you in what you need to research, in what order you will write and eventually give your speech. That one statement which will probably be the last statement of your introduction will then also let your audience know the road map or preview for your speech.
- Choosing a topic
- Composing a thesis
- Organizing the speech
- Outlining the body
- Finishing with a strong ending
- Incorporating research
- Adapting to different audience sizes, attitudes, and expectations
- Writing for different occasions
- Preparing notes and visuals