How To's

The Sheer Beauty Of Speech Structure

Speech Structure

Great Speech Structure = Great Results

Imagine this: I’m holding up a beautiful emerald green satin shirt. It is form fitting with a frivolous long bow at the neck and short flouncy sleeves.

Now imagine this green satin shirt without the structure of seams. Without seams, there is no coherent shape, no clarity of purpose and no defining detail. What I am holding up to you is simply a large green piece of satin. Could be anything really.

And a speech without seams or structure is simply without shape, purpose or definition. An incoherent ramble. Could be anything really.

Speech structure provides context, shape and form. It helps you and your listeners make sense of your message. Audiences like to know where you are taking them – structure assures them you know where you are going. Nothing loses the interest of an audience faster than pointless rambling.

Writing speeches, presentations and workshops becomes easy when you use a defined structure to elegantly hang your thoughts so that they look, sound and feel like a shirt with purpose, not a shapeless, vague thing.

Craft A Perfect Fit For Your Message

When people hear the word “structure”, I do see shoulders droop. I guess it can sound kind of boring, because structure is generally hidden; it’s not out there and sexy. Structure refers to the internal blueprint of details, planning and intention. Without structure there is nothing to display, connect and promote your brilliant ideas.

I have created a delightfully logical speech structure to ensure the perfect fit for your next speech, presentation or workshop. The simple speech structure I use and teach clients is my own. I call it PAPISA and yes, say it with an Italian accent so it rolls musically off the tongue… as will your speech. PAPISA stands for:


PurposeWhat is your purpose in speaking?
AudienceDescribe your audience in detail to customise your message.
ProblemWhat is the main problem the audience needs fixing and one you’ve experienced too?
ImpactDescribe the impact of what could happen if audience members don’t fix that problem.
SolutionDescribe your solution to fix that problem by demonstrating proven results.
ActionOffer the audience simple steps they can take immediately to fix that problem.


How To Use PAPISA & Link Ideas With A Kiss

PAPISA provides underlying structure to ensure a coherent flow and sense of forward movement. You could literally say a sentence or two for each section of PAPISA and you’d have a perfectly formed mini speech. However, that will not be sufficient for presentations longer than one minute!

To begin, take a piece of paper and draft up 6 columns with the PAPISA headings on the far left side. Make several copies and start by quickly jotting down some ideas in each section. Let go of perfection. Edit later.

Link the sections of your speech with connective sentences to demonstrate a logical progression. Use your voice and pausing to emphasise major points and signify changes in pace and direction. Follow the “KISS” principle: “Keep It Simple, Silly.” To give you a few examples I frequently use when speaking:

  • “The PURPOSE of my 20 minute presentation is…”
  • That’s a little about my background, now I’d like to hear about yours. We’re going WARM UP by…”
  • “It’s been a big 3 days. Now it’s time to FINISH. I’m going to summarise, then open to questions for half an hour. We’ll END with a powerful completion process. LASTLY I’ll invite you to register for…”

Email Geraldine If you have a speech, presentation or workshop coming up and you want a perfect fit for your message and need help with speech structure. Email me to set up a time to work together over phone or Skype to craft something truly beautiful.© 2017 Geraldine Barkworth, Speaking Coach. Articles and reviews reflect the opinion of the author only.