(Sample full outline from The Art of Public Speaking, 9th ed., by Stephen Lucas)
General Purpose: To Inform
Specific Purpose: To inform my audience about panic attacks
Central Idea: Today I would like to inform you about the nature of panic attacks, the people affected most often by them, and the options for treatment.
I. [Get Attention] I can’t breathe, my arms are tingling, I’m really dizzy, and it feels as if my heart is about to fly out of my chest.
II. [Reveal Topic] When this happened to me three years ago at an outdoor concert, I was really frightened. A. At the time, I had no idea what was going on. B. My doctor told me later that I had experienced a panic attack.
III. [State Credibility] I have learned a lot about my condition during the past three years, and I did additional research for this speech.
IV. [Thesis Statement] Today I would like to inform you about the nature of panic attacks, the people affected most often by them, and the options for treatment.
(Transition: Let’s start with the nature of panic attacks.)
I. Panic attacks are a severe medical condition with a number of physical and mental symptoms. A. As defined by the National Institute of Mental Health, panic attacks involve “unexpected and repeated episodes of intense fear accompanied by physical symptoms.” 1. The attacks usually come out of nowhere and strike when least expected. 2. Their length can vary from a few minutes to several hours. B. There are a number of symptoms common to most panic attacks. 1. Physical symptoms include a pounding heart, shortness of breath, lightheadedness, and numbness or tingling sensations in the arms and legs. 2. Mental symptoms include acute fear, a sense of disaster or helplessness, and a feeling of being detached from one’s own body.
(Transition: Now that you know something about the nature of panic attacks, let’s look at how widespread they are.)