How Public Speaking is similar to Essay Writing

The world is full of opportunities to learn.

During the winter holiday, when I had a lot of free time, I discovered an incredible learning tool called MOOC, which stands for massive open online course. It turned out, to my surprise, that nowadays many leading universities offer their courses online free of charge. They do it on different platforms, the one I started from is

In an amazing stroke of luck, the very first time I opened the “courses” page, the very first course I saw was Introduction to Public Speaking which was starting in a week! I thought “Great! It never hurts to practice speaking!” and registered. I’m glad I did. The course turned out to be excellent. It would take me a lot of time and effort to write about how useful the course was, so I’m not going to do it. Just take the course, I promise, you won’t regret it. There is, however, one task we did which I simply have to tell you about.

In this course we studied and prepared different types of speeches - Introductory, Impromptu, Informative, Persuasive. All of them were fascinating and useful, but the most valuable one for those who are preparing for international exams is the impromptu speech.

Impromptu means “not planned or prepared.” An impromptu speech is a type of speech you must be able to make without preparing beforehand. The goal the instructor set for us went like this, My main goal for this speech is that you are able to quickly arrange and deliver a clear and well-supported argument. Your speech must be clear, which requires you to include previews, reviews, and transitions. Your speech needs to have, at its heart, a well-organized and solid argument. What’s so special about this goal? Well, it is almost word-for-word one of the assessment criteria for essays in all international exams!

Now look at the structure of the impromptu speech:

What does it look like? Correct. It looks like an essay structure. Or, in more detail:

State your thesis
Preview of your main points

First main point
Statement of your first main point
Provide and explain two pieces of support illustrating the first main point
Conclude your first main point

Second main point

Statement of your second main point
Provide and explain two pieces of support illustrating the second main point
Conclude your second main point

Restate the your thesis statement and review your two main points
Conclude your speech

This structure helps you to quickly and spontaneously generate and express your ideas in a way that makes it easy for the listener / reader (for example, the examiner) to understand what you are trying to get across and why. Of course, you can change this structure a little and adapt it to your needs, but, on the whole, it’s a great foundation not only for a speech, but also for an essay.

I hope I got you interested in the course. Luckily, it has just started on another platform, I highly recommend that you register.

PS: the course instructor, Matt McGarrity, is incredible!


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