Planning Successful Talk or Paper
Three essential aspects for all formal writing/speaking
- Take Home Message (THM): what audience carries away.
- Topic Sentences (TS): Point of paragraph or slide.
- Topic Sentence Outline (TSO or SO): topic sentence order leading to THM,
that is, order of paragraphs/slides leading to Take Home Message
Note: While these concepts are central to any
successful formal presentation,
their technical content must adjust to the
level /expectations of the audience.
- During the research stage, the THM may
be unclear or change, but at the TS/TSO stage the THM must be clear.
An excellent THM can be shortened to be title of talk/paper.
- You don't have a THM, until you have simple, clear sentence
- The THM drives the organization. When it doesn't, something is wrong
with either it or TS/TSO.
- Topic sentence is the point of paragraph/slide. When
paragraph/slide is not about single point,
- TS is 1st sentence of paragraph; introduces main idea of paragraph;
indicates to reader what paragraph is about.
- Contract between writer and reader: here is idea I want to explain;
all right explain it to me. Contract means: (i) only one topic that both
understand; (ii) a
limited topic; not more general than supporting evidence in paragraph; (iii) TS directs flow of paragraph.
- Some of TS functions: (i) announces the topic; (ii) make transition
from previous paragraph; (iii) forecasts sub-topics to be dealt with in
a whole serious of paragraphs.
Topic Sentence Outline
- TSO is set of topic sentences forming logical argument leading
to THM. Anything unnecessary to argument should be removed.
- Topic Sentence Outline is not a Topic Outline
It is impossible to tell from topic outline what argument will be made,
let alone the THM.
Benefits of writing a sentence outline
- Clarity. If you can't write a clear sentence summarizing the
paragraph's point, you certainly can't write a clear paragraph.
- Flow of argument. It is much easier to quickly judge whether
present order of paragraphs (as sentences in the outline) really makes
argument in the most effective way. You may be able to
omit one or more paragraphs and still make your arguments.
- Efficiency. Revision of the plan of paper is much easier and
quicker if you have only to delete or re-order sentences.
Doing this on the completed draft involves much more work.
- Since a concept must be explained when it first appears,
interchanging paragraphs will require moving definitions.
- Paragraphs should smoothly flow into each other.
Reordering paragraphs may require extensive rewriting.
- Writing to length. With a sentence outline you can easily
judge how long the manuscript will be and modify it
to keep the essential material within the prescribed length.
- Time. All the above -- clarity, argument flow,
efficiency, length management -- can be done faster using a sentence
The successful talk/paper delivers a clear, compelling and memorable
Take Home Message.
Topic Sentences summarize the points of paragraphs ordered
(TSO) in the minimum argument necessary to deliver the Take
To cite this page:
[Wednesday, 26-Sep-2018 08:56:32 EDT]
Edited by: firstname.lastname@example.org on
Friday, 23-Mar-2012 17:27:59 EDT