Good organization is the key to effective communication because it helps make your ideas accessible to your audience.
Explain how information, knowledge, and wisdom work together in a speech
Public speakers can structure the audience's experience through skillful organization. As you write your speech, decide what you want your audience to feel in the beginning, middle, and end of your speech.
The category of information includes facts, figures, and concepts taken from primary and secondary texts.
Why Does Organization Matter?
William Carlos Williams once said that a poem is a "machine made of words. " A sad poem is a machine that manufactures melancholy; a funny poem is a machine that produces laughs. Poetry doesn't have a monopoly on this quality--a well-crafted speech can also be a machine made of words. Skillfully constructed language has a powerful effect on its audience, and speechwriters should strive to harness that power. How should a public speaker go about building a "machine made of words"? It's all in the organization. Machines only work when their component parts are assembled properly.
When you are organizing your main points, ask yourself a few questions. What is your ultimate goal? Are you trying to inform the audience, persuade the audience, amuse the audience, or enrage the audience? Think about the experience you want to create for your listeners--how you want them to feel when you begin speaking, and how you want them to feel when you make your final statement. When you have a clear vision in mind, return to the "Ordering Main Points" segment and choose a model that fits your purpose.
For example, let's say you are preparing a speech to solicit money for political dissidents in Chechnya, and you want to motivate your listeners by shocking them. If shock is the desired effect, it would be ineffective to spend ten minutes pontificating generally about the virtues of free speech without mentioning the specific abuse that the fundraiser addresses. It would be more effective to open with the story of an abused dissident who could benefit from the fundraiser's efforts--a story that would show the audience how high the stakes are, and how donations could help.
Information, Knowledge, and Wisdom
Where is the Life we have lost in living?
Where is the wisdom we have lost in knowledge?
Where is the knowledge we have lost in information?
T.S. Eliot makes a good point: it is difficult to maintain a healthy balance of information, knowledge, and wisdom. When we write speeches, we mix material from the three main registers of meaning: information, knowledge, and wisdom. For our purposes, let's define information as facts, figures, and concepts taken from primary and secondary texts. Knowledge is more general than information: it refers to the ideas that come from processing information, rather than the information itself. Knowledge is the synthesis of many facts. This category includes stories, principles, and contexts. Wisdom, the most general category of all, refers to insight that is gained from knowledge. Wisdom includes truth, opinion, and perception.
To put it in concrete terms, let's look at the information/knowledge/wisdom breakdown in a speech about performance-enhancing drugs in sports:
Information: statistics about athletes' steroid use
Knowledge: stories about athletes who take steroids
All three of these elements should work together. If your speech is too heavy on information and light on knowledge and wisdom, your message may get lost in the details. A speech that presents knowledge without information to support it or wisdom to justify it may seem pointless. "Wisdom" offered without information and knowledge to ground it in reality may come across as a vapid collection of clichés.
Good organization can prevent these problems. Balance information, knowledge, and wisdom as though you are building a house: lay a strong foundation of information, build knowledge on top of it, and finish the house with a roof of wisdom.