There’s an oft-quoted maxim about public speaking that says, “tell ‘em what you are going to tell ‘em, tell ‘em, and then tell ‘em what you told ‘em” (Safire, 1999). Although readers have the luxury of being able to read a passage over and over again to enhance memory, audiences find that the spoken word disappears almost immediately after it is uttered. Thus, clear organization is essential to an effective public speech. According to Steven Lucas, research demonstrates that if an audience can't comprehend your main points or follow the flow of your speech, you will be deemed less credible and effective than those speakers who have clarity of thought (Lucas, 2000). In other words, a good speech is organized in such a way that it repeatedly emphasizes the structure of the speech. This is important because unlike reading, where a person can go back again and again and find key arguments, the spoken word disappears immediately after it is uttered. Thus, clear organization developed in a formal outline is imperative. Today, I will discuss the three main things you need to keep in mind when you write your formal outline for this class. First, having and labeling the right parts, using proper outlining form, and finally, properly documenting sources.
The Guide to Writing Research Papers has a special section on writing outlines, and we recommend you review that material. From that document, here is one image (below) that might prove especially helpful, a sample outline (from the MLA Handbook ) of another proposed paper. The important thing to notice about it is how supporting details are arranged beneath more important ideas and the outline branches out (toward the right) as ideas become more supportive in nature. Logic demands that an "A" be followed by a "B." (If there is no "B," maybe there shouldn't be an "A," or "A" should be incorporated into the paper in some other way.)