6th Grade - Emphasizing Main Ideas In Oral Presentations

Oral Presentations
Emphasizing main ideas in oral presentations
Emphasize salient points to assist the listener in following the main ideas and concepts.
Give emphasis to important points in a speech to make them “stand out” to the listener.

Sample Problems


When you listen to a speech or presentation, how do you know if it is good? (if it keeps your interest, you can follow it, etc.)


How do you know if a speech is not well written or well delivered? (it’s boring or confusing, etc.)


What do good speeches do? (make a point clearly, keep the audience interested)


How can you make your point(s) clearly? (State it in the introduction and keep coming back to it throughout the speech; use clear language and clear examples)


What does it mean to “emphasize” something? (to stress its importance)


What is a “salient” point? (an important or main point)


How can you emphasize a salient point during the delivery of your speech? (pausing, changing voice pitch and volume, gestures, etc.)

Learning Tips


Reinforcing your theme (adapted from “Effective Speechwriting” at http://712educators.about.com/cs/speeches/a/speechwriting_2.htm)

Utilizing Theme Reinforcers

Theme reinforcers are simply the points that a speechwriter uses throughout his or her speech to 'reinforce' the central idea they are trying to get across. In Winston Churchill's famous commencement address to Westminster College in 1946, we find him emphasizing over and over again the need for cooperation against tyranny and war. His speech covered serious problems with which the post-war world was faced, including what he termed as the 'iron curtain' that had descended across the European continent. Many say that this speech was the beginning of the 'cold war'. What we can learn from his address is the importance of continually repeating one main idea. The effect that this speech had on the world is immeasurable.

Of course, this does not mean that throughout the speech the same words are repeated over and over. The hardest part of writing any speech is to approach the main theme from many different angles.


Write an introductory paragraph for a speech on the topic “Media violence harms children.” Choose one or two main points that you would like to focus on.


Outline three body paragraphs for your speech where you restate and emphasize your main point.


Read your paragraph ideas to yourself. If you were in the audience, would you be able to follow the theme and main points?


What theme is repeated throughout this speech? (making decisions/choices) How is it emphasized?

Good Evening.

I am both honored and flattered to have been asked to speak for this wonderful occasion.

I congratulate each of you and your parents.

Your achievements in the realms of Scholarship, Leadership, Community Service, and Character are being honored here tonight by your induction into this prestigious society.

An honor such as this is a wonderful way for the school and community to recognize and celebrate the choices, and sometimes the sacrifices, you have made.

But I believe that what should make you and your parents the most proud is not the actual honor itself, but what you had to do to get it. As Ralph Waldo Emerson said, "The reward of a thing well done is to have done it." Any recognition is just the icing on the cake, not to be expected but definitely to be enjoyed.

However, I challenge you not to rest on your laurels but to continue to strive towards even loftier goals.

The four requirements for membership in which you have excelled: scholarship, leadership, community service, and character were not chosen at random. They are the core of a fulfilled and fulfilling life.

The most important thing to remember is that each of these characteristics are the sum of many individual decisions. They embody a positive attitude backed by purpose. The only way to achieve your purpose is to take small actions everyday. In the end, they all add up. My hope for you is that you will cultivate this attitude backed by purpose in your own life.


Scholarship is much more than just getting straight A's. It is a life-long love of learning. In the end it is a sum of small choices. Each time you decide you WANT to learn something, the experience will be so rewarding that the next time becomes easier.

Soon learning becomes a habit. At that point, your desire to learn makes getting A's easier while taking the focus off of grades. The knowledge can still be hard to gain, but knowing you've mastered a difficult subject is an awesome reward. Suddenly the world around you becomes richer, full of learning opportunities.


Leadership is not about being elected or appointed to an office. The office does not teach someone how to be a leader. Leadership is an attitude cultivated over time.

Are you one to stand up for what you believe in and 'face the music' even when that music happens to be unpleasant? Do you have a purpose and follow that purpose to get the ends you desire? Do you have a vision? These are all questions that true leaders answer in the affirmative.
But how do you become a leader?

Each small decision you make takes you one step closer. Remember the goal is not to get power, but to get your vision and your purpose across. Leaders without visions can be likened to driving in a strange town without a road map: you are going to wind up somewhere, it just might not be in the best part of town.


Many see community service as a means to an end. Some might see it as a way to get service points while socializing, while others may view it as an unfortunate (and often inconvenient) necessity of high school life. But is that true community service?

Once again true community service is an attitude. Are you doing it for the right reasons? I'm not saying there won't be Saturday mornings when you would rather sleep your heart out than paint your heart out.

What I'm talking about is that in the end, when it is all done, and you are once again well-rested, you can look back and realize that you did something worthwhile. That you helped your fellow man in some way. Remember as John Donne said, "No man is an island entire of himself."


Finally, character.

If there is any one thing that is evidenced by your daily choices it is your character.

I truly believe what Thomas Macaulay said, "The measure of a man's real character is what he would do if he knew he would never be found out."

What do you do when no one's around? The teacher steps out of the room for a moment while you are taking a test after school. You know exactly where in your notes the answer to question 23 is. Do you look? Minimal chance of being caught!

The answer to this question is the key to your true character.

For while being honest and honorable when others are watching is important, being true to yourself is tantamount.

And in the end, these private day-to-day decisions will eventually reveal your true character to the world.


All in all, are making the tough choices worth it?


While it would be easier to slide through life without a purpose, without a code, it would not be fulfilling. Only by setting difficult goals and achieving them can we find true self-worth.

One final thing, each person's goals are different, and what comes easy to one may be difficult for another. Therefore, do not squash others' dreams. This is a surefire way to know that you aren't working towards fulfilling your own.

In conclusion, I congratulate you for this honor. You are truly the best of the best. Enjoy yourself, and remember as Mother Teresa said, "Life is a promise; fulfill it."

Extra Help Problems


Watch “Irritable Habits in Public Speaking” at http://www.expertvillage.com/video/78304_public-speaker-irritable.htm and make a list of things to avoid when you are speaking in public!


Watch “Organized Speech Writing: Relevant Material” at http://www.expertvillage.com/video/116225_organized-speech-writing-relevant-material.htm and take notes on the presenter’s comments on sticking to your main point.


What are some possible consequence of giving a disorganized speech? Watch the video at http://www.expertvillage.com/video/116229_organized-speech-writing-disorganization.htm.


What does the expert say NOT to do in a speech at http://www.expertvillage.com/video/116224_organized-speech-writing-get-to.htm? What SHOULD you do?


What is a good organizational patterns for a speech, according to the expert at http://www.expertvillage.com/video/116227_organized-speech-writing-speech-structure.htm?


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?


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.


Choose any two speeches from any candidates at http://www.4president.org/ and analyze the way the candidate emphasizes his or her main points.


Fill out the “Elements of an Effective Speech” rubric for one of the speeches.


Write your own speech on any of the following topics (pro or con) or a topic of your choice. Be sure to provide emphasis for your main point(s).

  1. Physical education in grades K-12 should be compulsory. 

  2. Ban plastic bags in grocery stores.

  3. Americans should not be allowed to burn the United States flag as an act of free speech.

  4. It should be illegal to sell coffee and coffee products to minors anywhere in the United States.

  5. Organ donation should be compulsory for all United States citizens.

  6. Voting rights of United States felons should be reinstated after they have served their time.

Copyright ©2009 Big Purple Hippos, LLC