The Second of Four Building Blocks of an Effective Speech

Christopher Witt —  September 20, 2013

build your speech

The easiest way to create a speech is to construct it using four building blocks: 1) claims, 2) evidence, 3) illustrations, and 4) audience participation.

Previously I looked at the first building block: the claim a speech makes, which I defined as a brief and clear sentence (or two) that sums up the speech’s message.

A claim — like FDR’s “The only thing we have to fear is fear itself” — is simply an assertion, a declaration made without support or evidence. Claiming something to be true doesn’t make it true, nor will it convince your audience that it’s true. To do that, you need to offer evidence.

Evidence, according to the dictionary, is “that which tends to prove or disprove something; ground for belief; proof.”

There are many forms of evidence:

  • Statistics
  • Survey results
  • Definitions
  • Demonstrations
  • Citations from recognized authorities / judgments of experts
  • Charts and graphs
  • News reports
  • Logical arguments

Certain speeches and certain audiences demand that you provide lots of evidence. Others, not so much.

For example, if you’re giving a technical presentations or if you’re addressing a technical audience, you better be able to support your claims with a great deal of evidence. (You don’t have to present it all. Use just enough to support your claims. Have more on hand, in case your audience wants more.) If you’re giving a motivational speech, however, you can get by providing relatively little hard evidence.

I suggest beginning with a claim and following it with supporting evidence, not the other way around.

Are their forms of evidence that I’ve left out?

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Christopher Witt

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Chris Witt was born in Los Angeles, California. He currently lives in San Diego. He works as a speech and presentations consultant, an executive speech coach, and an orals coach.

One response to The Second of Four Building Blocks of an Effective Speech

  1. Another great article Chris, thanks for sharing.