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How is a thesis or topic sentence used when creating a speech?

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The main thing you need to remember about a speech is that your listeners cannot rewind you (unless you are being recorded).  In an essay, your reader can re-read ideas if they are not clear, or if the reader does not remember.  This is not so in a speech.  In your speech, you have to do several things to make your topic clear.

  1. Use a meaningful beginning.  This is analogous to the “hook” of an essay.  Basically, you want to say something interesting and meaningful about your topic to get your listeners’ attention.  Once you have their attention, you move on to the topic sentence.  For example, if my speech was on not using plastic bottles, I might begin like this.

Did you know that there are enough plastic bottles thrown out every year to stretch around the Earth  four times!  (

That is both a statistic and what I call a shocking statement, or something that really grabs the audience.

1. State your augment clearly and succinctly (briefly) in the beginning of your speech.  You want to tell your listeners exactly why they should listen to you by telling them exactly what you will be talking about.

Today I am going to talk about why we should all make the switch to reusable water bottles.

2. Give your listeners a road map.  It’s always easier to follow someone when you kind of know where the person is going.  In a speech, you give your listeners a road map by saying things like this.

Today I will give you 5 reasons why you should stop buying Aquafina!

This tells your listener exactly how many points to look for, making it easier to follow your reasoning.

3. Wait!  That’s not enough.  You also need to use what are called signposts.  A signpost is a clue to what you are saying and where you are going in the speech.  These are usually called transition words in an essay.  They are words like first, second, third, and so on.  They can also be, “moving on” or “another example is” and things like that.  Although they sound boring, they are crucially important in helping your poor listeners keep track of what you are saying.

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