The body of a speech is where the speaker relays his or her main ideas. Okay, so the speaker has the audience’s attention. Now what? The speech should have clear sections (called “main points” or “talking points”) that logically flow one to the next.
Some subscribe to the “primacy” theory: Start off with the most important ideas while the audience is still engaged. Some subscribe to the “recency” theory: Build up to you most important ideas in a grand climax. As for me, like both theories. But what I really care about is that the audience never loses track of where the speech is going: A confused audience is an inattentive audience!
To be clear, I am a big proponent of “enumeration”: Good speakers number their main points. I have had some students push back on this. “That’s too simple,” they say. I simply counter by saying, “When’s the last time you got mad at someone, like a teacher, for being too easy to follow?”
I emphasize three components in the body of a speech:
- Clear Main Points: This should follow the order given in the preview of the speech.
- Logical Order of Ideas: This is tricky, and I’m not going to get into the details here. However, given this audience, did one idea naturally lead to the next? Were there any gaps in logic? Any confusing or contradictory ideas? (Yes, I know this may overlap with the “Content” portion of the evaluation.)
- Effective Transitions: Again, there is a lot of information out there on using transitions. At the minimum, conjunctive adverbs (such as “however,” “next,” “for example”) should be used from one idea to the next. Again, I also like enumeration. NOTE: Poor PowerPoint use can completely destroy this! Simply reading slide titles is NOT “good transition use”!
Put together, these components can become the “Body” portion of a speech evaluation.
Here is an example of an evaluation that I use: