The SHARP Method of Structuring a Speech

  • SumoMe

A speech is written for the ear and not the eye.  Unlike reading an essay, a person cannot go back to review what you just said.  Your audience is forced to go at your pace.  Therefore, a speech must be clearly and simply organized to help your audience follow your line of thought.

This post is a quick look at the basics of organizing a speech, including the SHARP method for supporting your points (based on an acronym provided by Joe Sharp).

Introduction (10-20% of your speech):

The introduction needs to accomplish three basic things, the 3 Ps mentioned earlier:

  • Pep—get attention (questions, startling statements, quote, story/humor)
  • Promise—state solution or benefit (give your audience a reason to listen. Sell a vision)
  • Path—preview points (tell them where you are going)

Transition

Body (70-85% of your speech):

The body typically will have three main points (people remember 3 points easily), with each point being supported by a both a mental anchor and a power phrase.  Mental anchors help the point stick in the mind and are designated by the acronym SHARP :

Story (or analogy/metaphor)

Humor

Activity

Reference/quote

Photo/prop

Power Phrases are catchy phrases that sum up the point in a memorable, repeatable way.

For example “Facts tell, but stories sell.”

Transition between each point and transition to the close

Conclusion(5-10% of your speech)

The conclusion also needs to accomplish three basic things:

  • Revisit the points and promise from the introduction
  • Close with a big anchor—see following sections on openings and closings.  Your most powerful anchor should go here, or find its completion here.
  • Call to action (the action might be a call to a different way of thinking, via a final thought-provoking question, or a call to feel differently about something and change an attitude, or it can be a call to a physical action).

More on transitions next week!