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The final speech plan. After the preliminary work that we have suggested has been done, there remains only the final step of bringing the material into proper outline form. This is usually not a difficult thing to do, since the process of preparation up to this point has been chiefly one of determining upon the materials best suited for carrying out the main object of the speech and of rejecting whatever has not seemed to contribute toward that end. In fact, the final plan for the speech is likely to have taken pretty definite form in the speaker's mind before the preliminary steps are completed. But even with definitely formulated ideas as to how the subject is to be treated, there remains always the consideration of the best arrangement of details for carrying out the speaker's purpose.
In determining this there are a few simple principles that should be kept in mind.
First, the central theme must not be lost sight of at any time. Everything that goes into the speech should have some bearing upon the central thought as expressed in the theme. If it does not, it must be rejected as irrelevant. Nothing is so important for securing a good speech plan as a strict observance of this principle. The loose thinker rarely ever observes it; the person accustomed to habits of accurate thinking rarely ever violates it. The fault of the former is the fault of the darky brother whom we have quoted; the virtue of the latter is that of one who chooses his text and never departs from it. It is the sine qua non of the public speaker.
Second, the final plan should possess the very essential quality of clearness. A speech plan may be carefully
constructed as to our first point — central idea — and yet be much confused as to arrangement of details. The speaker needs to be able to recognize the difference between those phases of the subject that constitute the real issues of the question and such points as are merely contributory to those issues. He should understand the principles of coördination and subordination, so that the main features may be given prominent place and the merely contributory elements inferior place. Frequently we find points of entirely unequal rank given coördinate position in the outline, or subordinate features given primary rank while the real issues are lost sight of. All this will be avoided when the speaker understands how to arrange his points so as to give to each its proper rank, and to all, the clarity necessary to a good speech plan.
Moreover, mere fragmentary statements of points should be avoided. In the student's outline that we quoted, of the process of manufacturing paper, there is a decided lack of clearness. The statements "surfacing," "reducing to pulp," "making the web or sheet," are merely suggestive. They express nothing definite. This is decidedly objectionable, since it renders the entire speech plan more or less intangible. No one by looking over this outline would be able to gain any clear idea of how paper is really manufactured. It is desirable that every point in an outline be stated in the form of a complete sentence. This not only aids in insuring clearness but is of peculiar advantage to the speaker. Formulating each point in the outline into a definitely stated sentence helps to objectify his thinking and to make his actual
speaking much more accurate than it would be if the points of his outline were all stated in mere fragmentary and indefinite form.
Third, the speech plan should be comprehensive; that is, it should cover all the ground suggested by the central theme. How often do we see the main points of an outline set down in mere chance fashion, with apparently no thought of treating the subject comprehensively! If a speaker sets out to show that the present administration has or has not been efficient, surely his audience will expect him to do something more than merely select at random two or three chance topics such as:
I. The president's policies.
Such topics are not sufficiently coördinated or extensive in their scope to establish the success or failure of the present administration. In order to treat this theme in anything like an adequate manner it would be necessary to deal with it along lines sufficiently broad to cover the important issues necessary to show either the success or the failure of the administration.
If it is the purpose of the speaker to prove that the administration has been successful, he may cover the ground satisfactorily by employing a thoroughly comprehensive plan such as the following:
I. In its domestic policy the administration has been successful.
II. In its foreign policy the administration has been successful.
If, on the other hand, he desires to show that the administration has been a dismal failure, he may use this same basis of division and bring evidence to prove that both the domestic and foreign policies of the administration have been a series of hopeless blunders. Or if he believes that there have been some good features that everyone ought to be willing to admit, he may see fit to show up:
I. The good features of the administration.
And then, by balancing the two, prove that the bad features are so many and of such great importance as to overshadow entirely the good that has been accomplished.
Comprehensiveness, then, is fundamental in the planning of the speech. The jotting down of whatever chance division of the subject may come to mind is a vicious. habit, indicative of either ignorance or indolence. Every well-constructed speech plan must have a perspective that comprehends all that is implied in the central theme.
Fourth, the plan of the speech should be concise. There are occasions, to be sure, when a speech plan of considerable elaborateness may be necessary, but for the purposes of the average student the element of conciseness is highly desirable. The primary advantage of conciseness is that it makes the speech plan simpler, both for the speaker and for his audience. An outline wrought out in much elaborate detail is hard both for the speaker to keep in mind and for his hearers to follow. A large number of divisions and subdivisions often results in the speaker's becoming confused among a mass of details and losing the thread of his talk altogether.
It is not an unwise thing for the extempore speaker to confine the discussion of his subject to three or four main headings, or better still to one or two, if he feels that he can do justice to his theme within those limits.
I have found the use of small cards (not over 4x6 size) particularly valuable for securing conciseness in outline work. By placing the entire plan for a speech upon a single card of this kind, one soon gains a habit of conciseness and accuracy of statement that is highly desirable in the planning of a speech.
Fifth, the function of the main divisions of the outline 1 -introduction, discussion, and conclusion should be clearly understood.
I. The function of the introduction is merely to help the speaker in getting started-to open up his subject. There are many different ways in which this may be done. This usually constitutes some form of adaptation. It may be adaptation by reference to something that has been said by a preceding speaker, by reference to the significance of the particular occasion, or by many other means.
The introduction sometimes serves to explain certain things that need to be made clear before taking up the discussion proper. Again, it may be employed to remove prejudice and gain a fair and favorable hearing. Whatever may be the purpose for which it is employed, it must be remembered that its primary function is to give the speaker a start.
1 There is no attempt to set forth here, except in a very brief and general way, the features of the main divisions of the speech. For more detailed information regarding the function of introduction, discussion, and conclusion, I would refer the reader to Phillips's "Effective Speaking" and Shurter's "Rhetoric of Oratory."