6th Grade - Selecting A Focus, Organization And Point Of View

Oral Presentations
Selecting a focus, organization and point of view
Select a focus, an organizational structure, and a point of view, matching the purpose, message, occasion, and vocal modulation to the audience.
Choose the topic, structure, and message of a speech and match content and delivery style to the occasion and the audience.

Sample Problems


What are some examples of types of speeches or presentations that you might have to give in school? (student government elections, presenting a research or book report, debate or persuasive presentations, etc.)


Are all speeches/presentations written the same way? (no)


What are the differences? (different purposes, different audiences, different word choice)


Are all speeches/presentations delivered in the same style? (No)


What are the differences? (different delivery styles, e.g. a presentation would be delivered with a different tone of voice than an election speech)

Learning Tips


Speechwriting tips (adapted from http://teacher.scholastic.com/Writewit/speech/tips.htm)

Choose Your Main Ideas
Don't try to put too many ideas into your speech. Research shows that people remember very little from speeches, so just give them one or two ideas to hang on to.

Write Like You Talk
 Remember that you're writing a speech, not an essay. People will hear the speech, not read it. The more conversational you can make it sound, the better. So try these tips:

  1. Use short sentences. It's better to write two simple sentences than one long, complicated sentence.

  2. Use contractions. Say "I'm" instead of “I am", "we're" instead of “we are."

  3. Don't use big words that you wouldn't use when talking to someone.

  4. You don't have to follow all the rules of written English grammar. 
"Like this. See? Got it? Hope so." Your English teacher might be horrified, but people don't always talk in complete sentences with verbs and nouns. So try to write like people talk.

  5. Always read your speech aloud while you're writing it. You'll hear right away if you sound like a book or a real person talking!

Use Concrete Words and Examples
 Concrete details keep people interested. For instance, which is more effective? A vague sentence like "Open play spaces for children's sports are in short supply," or the more concrete "We need more baseball and soccer fields for our kids."?

Get Your Facts Together
 You want people to believe that you know what you're talking about, so you'll need to do some research. Use the library or the Internet to do research. Your speech will sound really strong if you have the facts to back it up.

Persuade With a Classic Structure
 In a speech where you're trying to persuade someone, the classic structure is called "Problem-Solution." In the first part of your speech you say, "Here's a problem, here's why things are so terrible." Then, in the second part of your speech you say, "Here's what we can do to make things better." Sometimes it helps to persuade people if you have statistics or other facts in your speech. And sometimes you can persuade people by quoting someone else that the audience likes and respects.

After you've written a first draft of your speech, go back and look for words you can cut. Cutting words in the speech can make your points more clear. One speechwriter for a U.S. Senator has a sign above her desk that says: "Fewer Words = Clearer Point." It helps her remember to always simplify a speech by cutting out words.


Choose a Pattern of Organization

Once your identified your main points to support your thesis statement, you'll need to organize these for presentation. Developing a clear pattern of organization makes it easier for you to stay on topic and for your audience to following your line of reasoning.

The most common patterns of organization include the topical, chronological, spatial, cause-effect, and problem-solution sequence.

The most common pattern of organization is the topical pattern. You might have 3-5 main points that support your claim. When your thesis statement is, "There are five major considerations..." or "You should support this candidate for three reasons,..." then you are likely to use the topical pattern. Newspaper journalists use this pattern of organization as they cover the who, what, where, when and why in a story. A variant on this pattern of organization is the pro-con (advantages-disadvantages) sequence to compare and contrast main points.

The chronological and spatial patterns of organization are similar in that your order for introducing propositions depends upon time or spatial ordering. For instance, if your thesis is to look at the past, present and future developments of something, you will be using a chronological pattern or organization. Most demonstrative talks use these patterns of organization for showing what to do first, next, and finally...

The spatial pattern of organization is useful when covering places, movement from top to bottom, left to right or the like. If you were to discuss dialectics found in the U.S., you might move from northeast to southwest in your descriptions.

The cause-effect pattern of organization is used to establish a positive correlation between concepts. For instance, if talking about the effects of smoking, alcohol consumption during pregnancy, or drinking caffeine upon the body, you would likely use this strategy.

Many persuasive talks will be organized using the problem-solution pattern. If you want to convince an audience that you have a solution to a perceived problem, then this is the pattern for you. Most advertisers employ the problem-solution pattern of organization in ads and commercials. If you are worried about health, security, or control, a product or service is just the solution.

Closely related to the problem-solution pattern of organization is the Monroe Motivated Sequence. This sequence is widely seen in television and radio advertisement today. There are five steps for persuading the audience:

  1. Attention Step - Induce your audience to want to listen

  2. Need Step - Offer a problem that needs to be addressed

  3. Satisfaction Step - Offer a solution that will remedy the problem

  4. Visualization Step - Show how life will change for the better if the solution is adapted. Or demonstrate what will happen if no steps are taken to solve the problem.

Action Step - Offer a specific plan for implementing the satisfaction step.


If you were asked to write a speech to run for class president, what would your focus be? How would you organize your speech? What tone or tones of voice would you use?


If you were asked to write an informative presentation to your science class about earthquakes, what would your focus be? How would you organize your speech? What tone or tones of voice would you use?


If you were asked to write a motivational speech as the captain of your soccer team, what would your focus be? How would you organize your speech? What tone or tones of voice would you use?


If you were asked to write a presentation about the dangers of global warming, what would your focus be? How would you organize your speech? What tone or tones of voice would you use?

Extra Help Problems


Watch “Foreign Student Campaigns for Obama” at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=__IX-VYDsVU and answer the following questions.


Elements of an Effective Speech


A. Who is the speaker?

B. Where is the speech given?

C. When is the speech given?

D. Who is the audience?

E. What is the speaker trying to accomplish?


A. What are the important points that must be made?

B. What information must the audience be given?

C. What attitude does the speech convey?

D. Is the use of humor consistent with that attitude?


A. Does the speech have a clear beginning, middle, and end?

B. Does the speech contain repetition?

1. If so, what is the effect of the repetition?

2. If not, where are there places where repetition would be useful?

C. Does the speech contain parallel structure?

1. If so, what is the effect of the parallel structure?

2. If not, where are there places where parallel structure would be useful?

D. What type of vocabulary is appropriate for this speech?

E. What type of sentence structure is especially appropriate for this speech?


A. What is the first impression that the speaker wishes to create?

B. How are the dress and appearance of the speaker appropriate to the speech?

C. Volume

1. Can the speaker be heard?

2. Do changes in volume add to the effectiveness of the speech?

D. Inflection

1. Does the pitch of the speaker’s voice vary, or is it a monotone?

2. When the pitch changes, does the inflection add to the effectiveness of the


E. Pace

1. How fast does the presenter speak? Where, when, and why does the

presenter change his or her speed?

2. When does the presenter pause in the speech? Why?

F. Articulation

1. Does the speaker pronounce all words correctly?

2. Does the speaker pronounce each word clearly?

3. Does the speaker avoid the use of slang?

4. Does the speaker avoid hesitations and fillers? (Um, Well, Like, etc.)

G. Body Language

1. Does the speaker stand up straight but maintain a relaxed posture?

2. Do movements add to the meaning of the speech?

3. Are facial expressions appropriate?

4. Does the speaker establish eye contact?

5. Is the speaker too dependent on the text (notes)?

H. Does the tone of the delivery match the tone of the written speech?

I. Visuals

1. What kind of visuals, if any, does the speaker use?

2. Are visuals large enough and clear enough to be seen easily?

3. Are visuals placed so that they can be seen?

4. Does the audience have enough time to understand the visuals?

5. Does the content of the visuals aid understanding of the speech?

J. Is the speech long enough to accomplish its purpose but not so long that the

audience is lost?


(funny) watch Cartman’s speech to Congress at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=jD62fcfYqHw&feature=related and answer the same questions.


Watch student council speech at http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0gRxQ66gmvc and answer the same questions.


The History Channel's site at http://www.historychannel.com/speeches/archive.html has a wealth of speech material. At left, under the “Browse” heading, click on “Great Speeches.“

To study speeches by women around the world, go to http://www.giftsofspeech.org. Browse by last name or by year. Also offered are lists of Nobel Lectures and the Top 100 American Speeches in the 20th Century.


Write a speech on one of the following topics or a topic of your choice. Be sure to look at the rubric in #2 for guidelines.


SPEECH TOPICS (choose position pro or con)

  1. September 11 should be made a national holiday.

  2. The U.S. should take military actions against Iran.

  3. Parents should be held legally responsible for their children's actions.

  4. Celebrities should not be role models.

  5. Letter grades in schools do more harm than good. 

  6. Term limits for state legislators should be eliminated.

  7. The driving age in California should be raised to 18.

  8. Television does more harm than good.

  9. Washington D. C should be made the 51st state.

  10. Home schooling does more good than harm.


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