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Preparation Outlines


Preparation Outlines are a system of organizing thoughts by numbers, letters, and indentation.


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Speech Prep

          A Preparation Outline (often referred to as just an Outline) is a system of organizing thoughts by numbers, letters, and indentation. Roman numerals, Arabic numbers, and upper- and lower-case letters to help delineate major ideas from subordinate ones in an outline. Outlines are a way to help you put into form what you want to say during your speech, to think ahead of time what you want to say (your message) and how you want to say it (your language use). Everything you think you will say should be included in your preparation outline, hence the name: preparation outline. Your preparation outline should follow the adage “more is better.” Outlines help your brain internalize the information you want to convey to your audience. Outlines should be written in full, complete sentences with one sentence per number or letter, not paragraphs of information contained in one letter or number. The numbers and letters in an outline show the relationship of the ideas. When looking at a completed outline, your main points should have the same visual level of indentation. Here is an example of the proper order for outlines:

Example of the basic structure of a Preparation Outline.


Central Idea (Thesis) & Preview:

Transition 1:

Main Point 1:






Transition 2:

Main Point 2:






[As many transitions and main points as needed--usually 3 to 5]

Transition to Conclusion:



          If all of this sounds complicated, there is no need to worry, Pops Classroom takes the guesswork out of the structure when outlining. Simply begin with your main points and concentrate on your content. Here is a video of outlining in Pops Classroom: 

A short video explaining how to outline easily in Pops Classroom.

          Just like other written works, outlines need to have source citations incorporated within the outline (parenthetical citations) and a bibliography of sources consulted or cited. Always check with your instructor on their preference for consulted or cited works for the bibliography, and they may also have different citation styles you should follow. Some common citation styles include the Modern Language Association (MLA), the American Psychological Association (APA), and the Chicago Manual of Style. There are several online resources for creating citations. Here are a few we recommend:

Review Questions

1) What do outlines help you do? Why are they important? 

2) In a proper outline, what follows an uppercase A? 

3) How many main points are normally used in a speech? 

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