What Are the Five Organizational Patterns for Public Speaking?

  Reviewed by: Michelle Seidel, B.Sc., LL.B., MBA
  Written by: Michael Brent      Updated November 21, 2018
Her presentation leaves an impact on her colleagues

Some people may find giving a presentation to a group of people nerve-wracking, while others enjoy the opportunity to communicate their messages to others. For both professional and novice public speakers, however, there are five organizational patterns that can be used when developing a speech or presentation you'll deliver to a group of people, to give the speech structure and flow.

Logical or Topical Pattern

If you are giving a speech or presentation that contains several ideas that are interrelated in such a way that one flows naturally to the next, the logical pattern of organization can be used. As the name implies, you'll be organizing the information in a logical manner according to topic. This organizational pattern can also be used in a speech that discusses several sub-topics under the banner of a primary topic – just attack them all in a logical sequence.

Chronological or Time-Sequence Pattern

When information in a speech follows a chronological sequence, then the information should likewise be organized chronologically. For example, a speech on the development of a new technology should begin with its origin, then continue along the same time-line as events occurred. This organizational pattern is typically used in any speech addressing a subject from an historical perspective.

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Spatial or Geographical Pattern

If you wish to evoke an image of something that has various parts, and those parts are distinguished by geography, then organize your speech using a spatial pattern. Spatial patterns are suited for speeches about a country or city, or even a building or organization, provided that the organization occupies a specific geographical location, such as a hospital or university.

Causal or Cause-and-Effect Pattern

Another way of organizing a speech on a particular topic is to look at the subject in terms of cause and effect. For example, a speech about providing foreign aid to victims of a natural disaster in another country would discuss the disaster itself (the cause) and the impact the disaster had on the nation's people (the effect). In this particular example, a further effect would be found in discussing the details of how foreign aid can help the victims.

Problem-Solution Pattern

The problem-solution organizational pattern is similar to the cause-and-effect pattern, but is typically used when the speaker is trying to persuade the audience to take a particular viewpoint. In essence, the speaker introduces a problem, and then outlines how this problem can be solved. For example, a speech on leaving a smaller carbon footprint could begin by detailing the problems associated with climate change. These points could then be followed by information on how these problems have been or are being addressed, with a summation indicating a plan of action the audience can take.

Whichever organizational structure you use, it should be clear to the audience how all the topics you are covering are related. Slides and images are a great way of showing how the various speech elements fit together, and you should be sure to practice your speech so you're confident that all of the elements follow a logical pattern.

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