College of Southern Idaho
Organizational Patterns  
A Step-By-Step Approach

If you want any chance of your audience following along with you throughout your speech, you need to organize all of this information (the body of the speech) into a very easy to follow pattern. There are several different ways to organize speeches, but three of the most common are:

1. Chronological

Organizing according to time. When organizing a speech chronologically, speakers use a beginning to end structure. These speeches are presented as their topic appears in time. Demonstration speeches almost always follow chronological organization because it wouldn't make much sense to put the cake in the oven before one mixed the batter, would it? So, if I was giving a speech on the 'Empire State Building' I would organize my speech by the past, present, and future of the building.

2. Spatial

Organizing according to the area the topic appears in space. Spatial patterns organize the speech according to how the topic actually exists in space. For instance, if a speech was on the topic of the “Empire State Building” a speaker would talk about the first floor, then the second floor, then the third floor, etc. Organizing my speech just as the building is organized.  Of these types, spatial is probably the least common.  A few topics work really well with spatial organization, but some do not. 

3. Topical

Organizing by types or categories. This type of organization happens when speakers take their main topic and decide what 3 main subtopics* are the most important to discuss. So, if I wanted to arrange my Empire State Speech topically, I would probably talk about the history of the building, the types of business located in the building, and the tourists who visit the building.

You should let your topic help you decide what type of organization works best for you.  Good organization, though, is imperative if you want your audience to follow what you are saying.


*A bit of a note on “threes.” As you no doubt remember from English class, good writing tends to come in “threes.” For some reason, the human brain can remember odd groupings easier than even groupings. Specifically, we like to latch onto things in groups of three. So, having three main points is a general rule of thumb for good speech development.


Test yourself: What type of organization does the author of the sample speech use? What other patterns might he/she have used to convey the information differently?


Variety of Supporting Evidence