Structure your ideas

PUBLISHED : Monday, 29 May, 2006, 12:00am
UPDATED : Monday, 29 May, 2006, 12:00am

Planning a presentation or talk is like building a house. Without the initial blueprints or plans, there can be no house. Without a solid framework for the structure, the house, like a presentation, cannot be built without major problems occurring.

Without clear planning or preparation, you may find yourself going round in circles with your ideas in a mess. Your house, like the presentation, may become unstable and your ideas shaky because of poor groundwork; if you do not follow your plans step by step, you may end up off course and confused (not to mention your audience as well).

Therefore, spending time on planning and preparation is a must.

The Research Phase

You need to do your research first. This means spending time collecting and investigating the facts and gathering background information about your topic. You may need to spend some time brainstorming ideas, doing research and searching for information (in the library, on the internet etc).

At this stage you need to ask yourself what the argument and purpose of your presentation is to inform, persuade, argue etc.


Topic: Smoking

Background: Smoking is the inhaling and exhaling tobacco fumes ...

Research: Research has proven that smoking is not only a health risk but is

highly addictive ...

Argument: Good or bad? Bad because of the many health risks ...

Purpose: Persuade my audience against smoking.

Here, you should identify your audience and what they will gain from listening to your presentation.

Audience: Fellow classmates/ teenagers/ don't start smoking

The Structure

Next, you should structure and arrange your thoughts and ideas carefully. Include in the structure outline of your speech these three key elements - beginning, middle, and end.


Beginning: Smoking - a history

Middle: 1. Health effects 2. Quitting smoking 3. Anti-smoking

End: Smoking nowadays

By ordering your information, you are making sure each point in your outline is linked clearly and logically.

The Planning Phase

Your talk should be easy for yourself and your audience to follow and understand.

In your introduction give a brief summary of the information researched and include the main points you will discuss in your talk and a thesis statement.

A thesis statement tells your audience exactly what you are going to do in your talk. Everything you include in your presentation should support this thesis statement

Next, identify and develop each main point. Remember, your points should flow on from one another and each point should be supported with your research.


Thesis statement: I will argue that smoking greatly affects not only your health and well being but the health of those around you(1) and how recent social trends are encouraging smokers to quit(2) through anti-smoking campaigns (3).

Supporting research: 1. United States surgeon general's report

2. World Health Organisation

3. Federal law banning smoking in the United States

Conclusion: A final summary of your ideas and viewpoint should be included in your conclusion.


Choose a topic. Then use the guidelines and questions given to structure your talk.

marriage, children or homework



Research Topic or Question

The topic of my presentation is? Background information


Inform, argue, persuade, convince etc? The purpose of this speech is?


Who is my audience? Does my topic relate to my audience? Audience's main interest in this topic is?

Outline Topic or Research

Beginning - Middle - End


A summary/ overview; Thesis statement; What am I going to talk about?

Main Points

What are my main points? Do my points flow from one another?

Supporting Information

Support main points; Examples, definitions, facts etc


Final summary; What is my viewpoint?