Organizing and Outlining: Glossary


Chronological Speech

A speech in which the main points are delivered according to when they happened and could be traced on a calendar or clock.

Comparative Speech

A speech in which two or more objects, ideas, beliefs, events, places, or things are compared or contrasted with one another.

Causal Speech

A speech that informs audience members about causes and effects that have already happened.

General Purpose Statement

The overarching goal of a speech; for instance, to inform, to persuade, to inspire, to celebrate, to mourn, or to entertain.

Internal Previews

Short descriptions of what a speaker will do and say during a speech; may be at the beginning and within the body of a speech.

Main Points

The key pieces of information or arguments contained within a talk or presentation.

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

An organization style that is designed to motivate the audience to take a particular action and is characterized by a five-step sequence: (1) attention, (2) need, (3) satisfaction, (4), visualization, and (5) action appeal.

Organizational Styles

Templates for organizing the main points of a speech that are rooted in traditions of public discourse and can jumpstart the speechwriting process.


Hierarchal textual arrangement of all the various elements of a speech.

Parallel Structure

Main points that are worded using the same structure.

Preparation Outline

A full-sentence outline that is used during the planning stages to flesh out ideas, arrange main points, and to rehearse the speech; could be used as a script if presenting a manuscript style speech.

Problem-Solution Speech

A speech in which problems and solutions are presented alongside one another with a clear link between a problem and its solution.

Refutation Speech

A speech that anticipates the audience’s opposition, then brings attention to the tensions between the two sides, and finally refutes them using evidential support.

Rhetorical Situation

According to Lloyd Bitzer, "a complex of persons, events, objects, and relations presenting an actual or potential exigence which can be completely or partially removed if discourse, introduced into the situation, can so constrain human decision or action as to bring about the significant modification of the exigence" (1968, p. 6).


According to Beebe and Beebe, “words and gestures that allow you to move smoothly from one idea to the next throughout your speech, showing relationships between ideas and emphasizing important points” (2005, p. 204).

Spatial Speech

A speech in which the main points are arranged according to their physical and geographic relationships.

Speaking Outline

A succinct outline that uses words or short phrases to represent the components of a speech and that is used during speech delivery.

Specific Purpose Statement

A sentence of two that describe precisely what the speech is intended to do.


Information that is used to support the main points of a speech.


Short recaps of what has already been said; used to remind the audience of the points already addressed.

Thesis Statement

A one- or two-sentence encapsulation of the main points of a speech, also called the central idea.

Topical Speech

A speech in which main points are developed separately and are generally connected together within the introduction and conclusion.

Transitional Statements

Phrases or sentences that lead from one distinct-but-connected idea to another.

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