How to Begin Your Research

Main Idea

All speeches start with a general purpose and then move to a specific purpose that gives thewho, what, where, and howfor the speech. Transitioning from the specific purpose to possible main points means developing a list of potential main points you could discuss. Then you can narrow your focus by looking for similarities among your potential main points and combining ones that are similar. Shorter speeches will have two main points while longer speeches will generally have three or more main points. When creating your main points, make sure that they are united, separate, balanced, parallel, and logical.

Generate Main Ideas

After you develop the central idea, the next step in the speechmaking process is to generate main ideas.

  • Generate the main ideas for your speech;
  • Formulate the preview statement.

It is important that you subdivide your speech into two, three, or four main ideas. Consider their three questions:

  1. Does the central idea have logical divisions? (If yes, then proceed to item 1(below), skip 2 and 3 then go to item 4).
  2. Can you think of several reasons why the central idea is true? (If yes, then proceed to item 2, skip 1 and 3 then go to item 4).
  3. Can you support your central idea with a series of steps or a chronological progression? (If yes, then proceed to item 3, skipping 1 and 2).

1. Finding Logical Divisions

Here's an example:

The art of mehndi is a 5,000 year old tradition that has been used for artistic, medical, and mystical purposes.

The logical divisions in the above statement are artistic purposes, medical purposes, and mystical purposes.

Now it's your turn, consider your central idea and identify the logical divisions present.

2. Establishing Reasons

Here's an example:

Capital punishment should be illegal because it is discriminatory, inhumane, and not necessary.

The three reasons that will compose the speech are that capital punishment is discriminatory, capital punishment is inhumane, and capital punishment is not necessary.

Now it's your turn, consider your central idea and identify the reasons you will use to support your argument.

3. Tracing Specific Steps

Here's an example:

Traveling to another country involves three steps, obtaining a passport, making travel plans, and learning about the language and culture of the country you will visit.

Now it's your turn, consider your central idea and identify the steps you will describe in your speech.

4. Writing the Preview Statement

Once you've identified your main ideas, you can combine them in the preview statement. You will also need to recall you r central idea. Now it's your turn to consider your central idea and your main ideas and create a preview statement.