Building the Body

The body is one of the most difficult parts of the speech to craft. The body will consist of eight to nine minutes of speaking time, and it determines the depth of a speech. Because there is much that comprises the body of the speech, it will be broken down into three main sections: the three main points, the evidence, and the flare.

The Three Main Points

The backbone of the body are the three points. These are the three points which were outlined in the thesis statement. When concluding the thesis statement within the introduction, the speech should transition right into the first point (the first body paragraph). The first point, regardless of the problem, normally consists of identifying the problem. For instance, if the topic is about our need to contribute to humanitarian aid, the first point would probably consist of building an argument that there is a great deal of poverty and struggle (while alluding that we as Americans have the resources to help). Identifying the problem verifies to the audience that one does truly exist. This helps to build a rapport with the audience by linking the speech to their lives.

After having successfully identified the problem, then move on to the second point and paragraph. Keep in mind, in all three of the points the speech is to convince the audience of something other than their pre-conceived notion (unless they are of the same mind, then this speech informs). The first point was to convince them that a problem does exist. The second point, convince them that we can/should do something about it. Keeping with the topic above, this is where the speech will state how Americans have the resources and ability to make a difference. Offer a solution.

The third point is always a reflective point. In other words, this is the opportunity to tell the audience what will happen, or what they will miss out on, if they do not make the changes as outlined in the second point. So, the problem has been stated and a solution offered (both supported with cited evidence). The third point allows orators to create a "what if" scenario for the future. Create a prediction of a future where the problem is not addressed. This also is normally the point in the speech that addresses the concerns of the critics. Using the previous example, if trying to give a final reason for contributing humanitarian aid, now would be the part to let the audience know the consequences of inaction. This is not only the last time to oblige them to change their current actions, but it also gives one last opportunity to pull their heart strings. Be careful though because if overdone it will come across as flaky and might lessen an orator’s ability to persuade.

Evidence and Flare

After having solidified the structure and order of the points, evidence must be provided. An argument is meaningless without support from outside sources. Using the example of humanitarian aid, in the first point provide statistics which prove that there is a grave need for humanitarian support worldwide. The audience has always known that there is suffering, but make it tangible. If the audience can be touched by a relatable source, they will be more open to hearing how they can help in reducing these issues. In the second point, the evidence is going to have to prove that the solution is easier than they thought. Maybe state that only fifty cents a day is what it takes to feed an individual. Or, explain that simply volunteering at a food bank for two or three hours over the course of a year could help 100 people overseas. Of course, these facts have to be true. But by creating evidence a speaker leaves their audience without excuse. Finally, in the third point, it needs to show past evidence of inaction. If a citation states that 1000 children die every day from starvation, it can truly effect people--because a tangible number and state has been provided. Those are the types of incentives individuals need to reach out and make a difference.

Once the points have been solidified with evidence to back them, then add flare. Flare is almost always in the form of humor. Anyone can write a speech and most can do it well. But what really distinguishes speakers is when an Oratory can add elements of humor which are not only hilarious, but which catch the audience off guard. This does two things. First, it makes the audience pay closer attention because they are awaiting the next joke. Second, it informs the judge that a speaker is capable of going beyond the typical by bringing something really special to the speech. This is the type of concept that will help take a top spot from each round. With that said, realize that flare without substance is meaningless. Humor and surprise elements only work if they are added to a foundation of solid arguments. It is simply a case of the icing-without-cake analogy--all frosting and no cake is pointless sugar.

There is no doubt that the body paragraphs are the largest and most crucial part of any speech. The body is where arguments are established and verified. The body is also where the audience is given the problem, solution, and future prediction in hopes of proving the Oratory’s thesis. A speech with three solid points backed with evidence, and sprinkled with elements of flare, is sure to guarantee a speaker a powerhouse piece in their district.