Speech Outline

Outline for Writing a Speech

General tips when writing a speech:

  • Use a ragged-right (flush left) margin. NEVER use full justify — too hard to read.
  • In paragraphs of copy, serif text (e.g., Times New Roman) generally reads more easily on a quick scan.
  • Don’t make the text too small; think 14 point and above.
  • Use lots of white space and plenty of space between paragraphs and lines so that the speaker can make annotations.
  • Use bold face to highlight important points (very judicious use).
  • Make sure you reflect your clients style as much as possible, and provide options so they can customize the speech to their personality.


  • The opening sets the stage/mood for the rest of the presentation.
  • It should contain an outline of what will be touched upon in the speech.
  • The introduction needs to be short.
  • “Where there’s an A ... there’s a B."
  • It’s important to emotionally connect with your audience — this can make your audience more receptive to hearing your key messages.
  • To make a personal/emotional connection, it is helpful to begin with an appropriate personal story or anecdote that relates to the presentation.
  • Full sentences can be used, but fragments are ok too.
  • Creative punctuation helps.
  • Bulleted lists are helpful for people to see lists of ideas.

Main body:

  • The main body should be as detailed as possible.
  • Include several options for things like anecdotes, so your client can choose one.
  • It doesn't have to make be perfectly polished — your client will probably have words that they would prefer to use, that is more in their voice.


  • Keep it short and do not introduce any new ideas.
  • It needs to relate to the opening:
    • repeat key words and concepts
    • refer to opening point
    • final perspective using original stats/anecdotes/examples
  • Wrap up with clarity and clout.

Adapted from tips by Joan Detz.