Chapter 9 – Selecting and Arranging
Main Ideas for Your Speech
By: Anthony Browne and Chance
Selecting and Arranging Main Ideas
9.1 - Importance of Organization
9.2 - Selecting the Main Ideas of Your Speech
9.3 - Arranging the Main Ideas of Your Speech
9.4 - Selecting and Arranging the Supporting
Ideas of Your Speech
9.1 Why Organization is Important
• -Organization – Selection of ideas and materials and
their arrangement into a discernible and effective
• Not only will organization help your audience
remember your speech better, but it will also engage
them more and even allow them to anticipate what’s
next, giving them satisfaction.
• It will also help you as the speaker be able to check if
something is missing in your speech if, for example,
you were talking about volcanoes and you only
mentioned active and dormant, but left out extinct.
• -Selecting and arranging will be the two main ideas of
our speech today
9.2 Selecting the Main Ideas of Your
• -Main ideas are the claim that address the issues in
your thesis statement and they are the major divisions
of the speech.
• Your thesis statement is usually a sentence that tells
your audience what the contents of your speech will be
in the most concise but clear way possible, we will go
over this later.
• These main ideas can also come from patterns in your
• The choices you make will be affected by your
audience’s acceptance, denial, or dispute and by the
relevance it has to the topic.
Main Ideas From Your Thesis Statement
• Say you want to talk about why people should buy the Slap
Chop. You would get your main ideas from that exact
question, “Why should people buy the Slap Chop?”
1. Why do they need Slap Chop?
2. What does buying Slap Chop do for them?
3. What is a Slap Chop?
• Thesis statement – The Slap Chop is a food slicer that is
easy to use and can make meals in seconds.
• Since you don’t want to confuse your audience, explaining
what the Slap Chop is first is a good idea so that they can
understand what it is and then you can tell them its
benefits. Be sure to have your main ideas in an
Main Ideas From Your Research
• You can also get main ideas from the
information you find while researching.
• If you were to find online that half of the
funds raised by the Slap Chop go to charity,
then that would be a good point to bring up to
persuade your audience.
How to Come Up With Main Ideas
• Asking these questions about your topic will allow you to more easily think
of main ideas.
A. -What does it mean?
B. -How to describe it?
C. -What are the facts?
D. -What are the reasons?
E. -How often does it occur?
F. -What are the parts?
G. -What is the reasoning?
H. -Why is it strange?
I. -What are the objections?
J. -Compared with what?
• Obviously, you can come up with topics without these, but they’re here to
help you if you can’t think of any.
• On most topics, you will have an abundance of
ideas to choose from and while they might all be
interesting and support your speech well, the
speech itself must be a decent length or else you
will lose your audience.
• Speeches generally contain two to five main
ideas. If you’re over five, then you probably want
to ask yourself, “Is this idea essential to my
speech?” and “Can I combine a few of these into
Examples for Deleting and Combining
• Deleting – You might find out that the Slap Chop guy,
Vince Offer, punched a prostitute which, while very
interesting, does not help you persuade your audience.
• Make sure you stay on topic with what you’re trying to
say and not go off on tangents.
• Combining – This would be if you were to find out that
the materials in the Slap Chop are all 100% American
made. Although it’s nice to know that it’s high quality,
combining that information with your other main idea
of what a Slap Chop is would be better.
• Try to combine ideas that answer the same questions,
those two answered, “How to describe it?”
Fine-tuning Your Main Ideas
• After you have put some of your main ideas
on the Slap Chopping block, you’ll still need to
make sure they’re simple, discrete, structured
similarly to each other, balanced, coherent,
• The key to helping the audience recall
• Being succinct, or keeping your words brief
but information, is a good way to key your
• “Slap Chop slices food easily,” is better than,
“Slap Chop can be used to chop vegetables for
salads and other foods easily.”
• Try to keep your main idea short and concise.
• Having your topics be distinguishable from each
other is very important.
• When your ideas overlap, the audience can
• If you were to talk about the Slap Chop’s easy to
use and then go on about how it’s easy to clean,
then the topics can become indistinguishable and
• Be sure to combine similar topics like we talked
about earlier so that you don’t run into this
• If possible, structure your main ideas similar to
• Make sure they are similar in grammar and
1. Slap Chop is effective.
2. Slap Chop is efficient.
3. Slap Chop is cheap.
• When you do this, the audience knows exactly
what they need to listen for without any
• Balance in the amount of information talked about in
each topic is necessary to educate the audience fully
about your topic.
• Say you talk about the price, the free Graty, and the
customer praise, and then end off with what the Slap
Chop actually is.
• If you were to do this, your audience would not only be
confused, but also poorly educated about the Slap
• You want to spread out the necessary information
between your two to five main ideas and leave out
• Coherence is when your main ideas have clear relationships
between one another.
• If you were to talk about the price of the Slap Chop, then
the country of its origin, and then how Vince punched a
prostitute, there’s no coherence between these topics.
• The audience will have trouble understanding what you’re
trying to convey to them.
• When you talk about what the Slap Chop is, this will lead to
how it works, which will lead to how this is beneficial to
• Note how the relationships between each topic are clear
and lead into each other. We’ll go into how this is a good
way of arranging main ideas soon.
• Finally, make sure you’ve covered every
important aspect of your topic.
• If you were to leave out how the Slap Chop
works, your audience wouldn’t have the full
• If the audience doesn’t know or understand
the main point of the topic, they might
become confused and not understand the
9.3 Arranging Main Ideas
• To start off with, some main ideas depend on
others before them to be more effective.
• These types of ideas are called logically
• There are also ideas that do not depend on
the other ideas to get their idea to the
• These types of ideas are called logically
Arranging Main Ideas for Your
• When you begin your speech, you will want to start
with what your audience is familiar with and relate it to
your next topics.
• Suppose you talk about volcanoes and explain the
three types of volcanoes, which most people know, and
then you talk about super volcanoes, which people
might not know about, and then tell them one resides
in Yellowstone National Park.
• If you were to begin with something unfamiliar, then
you would probably lose your audience and they will
have trouble understanding the rest of your speech.
• -Asking a question such as, “Have you ever thought
about there being another kind of volcano?” would
help you transition from the familiar to the unfamiliar.
Logically Dependent Ideas
• These ideas form a chain from one idea to the next,
strengthening the message you’re trying to get across.
1. If we don’t cure cancer, people will die.
2. If people die, they won’t be able to care for corgis.
3. If corgis aren’t cared for, they will die out.
4. If corgis die out, the world will have no reason to exist.
• As you can see, the topic after the first depends on each
one before it.
• The audience should be able to follow the different main
ideas of your chain easily, so make sure they’re both
discrete and coherent.
Dangers and Advantages of Logically
• Be wary when using a dependent chain
because any flaws in your argument will cause
your whole speech to break.
• At the same time, if you use it correctly, it can
become stronger than a speech that uses
independent ideas because everything is so
• The chain can also be more easily followed by
the audience because of this connection.
Logically Independent Ideas
• These kinds of ideas can stand alone and not
have to depend on any of the other topics.
1. Trees come in many varieties.
2. Trees grow throughout the year from the sun.
3. Trees are chopped down to create things.
• These are all from the same topic, but the ideas
are independent of each other and don’t rely on
one another for more impact or understanding.
Problems with Logically Independent
• When using main ideas that are independent
and unequal in strength, you have to ask when
to use the strongest one.
• A strong idea is an idea that will grab the
• An idea that is very well supported that
doesn’t interest the audience is weak.
When to Use Your Strongest Idea
• Should you use your strongest argument first or
• The primacy effect(strongest first) versus the
recency effect(strongest last) haven’t found
results leading towards either being better, so
you can choose whichever you like more.
• Weaker arguments should be used in the middle
though, rather than the beginning or end.
• The strength of your arguments depends on your
audience, so try to know and understand your
audience when making your speech.
• After you’ve figured those things out for your
speech, arranging your ideas into specific
patterns will make them easier to understand.
• The patterns can stem from your topic, the ideas
in the topic, your audience, or from your own
• We’ll first discuss how you can arrange it into a
chronological, spatial, categorical, cause-effect,
problem-solution, comparison and contrast, or
• When the passage of time is involved, putting your ideas in
chronological order is a good choice, an example of this
1. Chariot usage in 3000 BCE
2. Medieval carriage usage in 1500s
3. Coach carriage usage in 1800s
4. Car usage in 2000s
• This shows a timeline of transportation used throughout
• Going backwards is also acceptable, so you can possibly
start with something familiar and then move to the
• Spatial refers to ideas that may be different in position or
• You order them by how large the topic is compared to each
other and zoom in or zoom out based on your research:
1. Pembroke welsh corgis are adorable.
2. Dogs are adorable.
3. Animals are adorable.
• Another way that’s similar is ordering them by their
1. Corgi behavior on the East coast.
2. Corgi behavior on the West coast.
3. Corgi behavior in Asia.
Categorical or Topical
• These are the ideas that are related to the main
topic, but are otherwise separate.
• Think of them as logically independent ideas.
1. PB & J sandwiches are tasty.
2. PB & J sandwiches are filling.
3. PB & J sandwiches are cheap.
• Three topics that can stand on their own, but
together form the whole.
• Basically, you choose these topics based off of
your research and what you think is important.
Cause - Effect
• These are main ideas that cause the next idea in the speech.
1. Reading allows you to expand your vocabulary.
2. An expanded vocabulary allows you to write better.
3. Writing better improves your grades and résumés.
• You can also reverse this pattern by telling the effect first and
then what caused it.
1. I have exceptional writing skills.
2. This was caused by my large vocabulary.
3. My large vocabulary was caused by reading a lot.
• Choosing between the two should depend on the strength of
your topics and whether you want to begin or end strongly,
as detailed earlier.
Problem - Solution
• Similar to cause-effect, problem-solution presents a problem and then a
solution to it.
1. Corgis will die if not taken care of.
2. As such, people will mourn the loss of doggies.
3. To prevent this, feed and take care of your corgi.
• You want to establish the problem, tell why it’s bad, and then provide a
• You can also incorporate your audience into the speech.
1. We all love dogs and what they provide us.
2. The love we share is stronger than with any other animal.
3. As such, care for and feed your dogs.
• You make the audience understand what you want to persuade them to
do by including them into the speech like this.
Comparison and Contrast
• Comparing or contrasting can be very useful for introducing
an unfamiliar concept with a familiar one so the audience
can understand more easily.
1. Dogs are smart.
2. Smart people work on spaceships.
3. Countries have sent dogs into space.
4. Sending animals into space is inhumane.
• After you come up with your main ideas, your last idea
should either highlight the similarities or differences
• The last technique should be used when there are
a limited number of choices for ideas and none of
them are particularly good.
• You would choose the idea that’s the best of the
bad and explain how it’s better than the rest.
1. George W. Bush might be bad, but here are the
2. Nixon was bad, here’s why.
3. Hoover was bad, here’s why.
• Obviously, this one should be used as a last resort.
When to Use These Patterns
• All of these organizational patterns are useful
for specific purposes, but how do you know
when to use them?
• This can depend on your topic, its purpose,
your audience, or your culture.
• Your subject can determine it if it were about
a historical event which would benefit from
being told chronologically.
• Talking about different parts of a computer
could be explained using cause-effect by
explaining how one part causes all the other
parts to work.
• Your purpose can affect your arrangement if
you want to make the audience understand a
problem and then provide them with your
solution to it.
• You could also show the differences and
similarities of your topic to give praise to
something and convert the audience or show
them the bad side of a topic.
• Who your audience is can affect how much detail
you give to certain topics.
• Say I want to talk about the iPhone, I don’t have
to go into much detail since we all mostly know
what it is and what it does, so I could move onto
• If I were to talk to a group of people who have
never heard of one, I’d go into great detail about
how it works and then explain my purpose to
• The culture of the audience can be very
important as well.
• If you give a speech to a group of Christians, you
would want to make sure not to insult their
religion and possibly compare your speech to
• Compare and contrast would be useful in that
• Other examples of cultures could be Chinese,
Americans, teenagers, teachers, etc., so be sure
to understand their culture so your speech is
more suited for your audience.
9.4 Supporting Ideas
• Main ideas use supporting ideas that are
• They are arranged in a similar fashion to the
• Like main ideas, there’s a way of going about
selecting and arranging your subheadings, so
we’ll be going over how much, what kind, and
what criteria for selection and then how to
arrange them all.
• When putting together your support material, how much is
too much or too little?
• You need enough to have a strong case, but not too much
that it’s long and repetitive.
• Determining how much detail you go into depends on the
audience’s acceptance of your claim.
• If you start with, “Puppies should be given out for free at
Three Rivers,” then you’ve already won the audience’s
attention as opposed to saying, “Dogs shouldn’t be allowed
as pets,” where you would need large amounts of material
to win them over.
• Although, your audience could all hate dogs and the
reverse could happen, so try to understand your audience
beforehand so something like this doesn’t happen.
How Much? Continued
• Basically, the more knowledge your audience
has, the less supporting material you will
• Don’t stereotype your audience or assume
that everyone is the exact same though.
• Make sure your points aren’t redundant and
give new information.
• Use different kinds of supporting materials like
statistics, examples, documents, quotes, facts,
visuals, etc. so that the viewer isn’t bored with
the same material.
• When you do this, stick to a pattern so the
audience can anticipate what’s next.
• Your audience also determines your subheadings.
• If you have supporters and opposition, then
having support directed at both parties will help
get both groups on your side.
• How do you decide which supporting evidence to use?
1. Use the evidence with the most credibility.
2. Select evidence that is the easiest to understand.
A. In the case of numbers like 1,234,567, try to truncate it down to 1
million or 1.2 million. With 0.01, say one-hundredth.
3. Select the most interesting material and consider the
4. Have your evidence match your own logic or beliefs so that
you can defend it more easily.
5. Make sure that your material is good to present, like using a
chart to explain statistics rather than a lengthy explanation.
6. Select evidence that can be cited easily. You can’t cite out the
entire bibliography out loud, but make sure you can cite a
source easily with an understandable name.
Arranging Your Supporting Ideas
• Arranging your supporting ideas is also
important, similar to your main ideas.
• Suppose you want to show the amount of
corgis adopted across several years to show
their appeal before explaining why people
• This will give evidence to what you’re talking
about and the audience will be able to agree
with your argument easier.
• Organizing your main ideas not only helps your audience
understand and agree with your topic easier, but it also
engages them and helps them remember what you talked
• Be sure to consider your audience so that your
information can be understood easily and so they accept
• Remember to be concise and to either remove or combine
similar topics so that your speech isn’t cluttered.
• Your supporting ideas are just as important as your main
ideas and work the same way, so organize them just as
well as your main ideas.
Did You Get All That, Camera Guy?
We hope you enjoyed our presentation!