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Choose a Pattern of Organization

Once your identified your main points to support your thesis statement, you'll need to organize these for presentation. Developing a clear pattern of organization makes it easier for you to stay on topic and for your audience to following your line of reasoning.

The most common patterns of organization include the topical, chronological, spatial, cause-effect, and problem-solution sequence.

The most common pattern of organization is the topical pattern. You might have 3-5 main points that support your claim. When your thesis statement is, "There are five major considerations..." or "You should support this candidate for three reasons,..." then you are likely to use the topical pattern. Newspaper journalists use this pattern of organization as they cover the who, what, where, when and why in a story. A variant on this pattern of organization is the pro-con (advantages-disadvantages) sequence to compare and contrast main points.

The chronological and spatial patterns of organization are similar in that your order for introducing propositions depends upon time or spatial ordering. For instance, if your thesis is to look at the past, present and future developments of something, you will be using a chronological pattern or organization. Most demonstrative talks use these patterns of organization for showing what to do first, next, and finally...

The spatical pattern of organization is useful when covering places, movement from top to bottom, left to right or the like. If you were to discuss dialectics found in the U.S., you might move from northeast to southwest in your descriptions.

The cause-effect pattern of organization is used to establish a positive correlation between concepts. For instance, if talking about the effects of smoking, alcohol consumption during pregancy, or drinking caffeine upon the body, you would likely use this strategy.

Many persuasive talks will be organized using the problem-solution pattern. If you want to convince an audience that you have a solution to a perceived problem, then this is the pattern for you. Most advertisers employ the problem-solution pattern of organization in ads and commercials. If you are worried about health, security, or control, a product or service is just the solution.

Closely related to the problem-solution pattern of organization is the Monroe Motivated Sequence. Alan Monroe developed this sequence in the 1930s as a way to organize sales presentations. This sequence is widely seen in television and radio advertisement today. There are five steps for persuading the audience:

  1. Attention Step - Induce your audience to want to listen
  2. Need Step - Offer a problem that needs to be addressed
  3. Satisfaction Step - Offer a solution that will remedy the problem
  4. Visualization Step - Show how life will change for the better if the solution is adapted. Or demonstrate what will happen if no steps are taken to solve the problem.
  5. Action Step - Offer a specific plan for implementing the satisfaction step.
Click here to learn more about the judicial argument, another pattern of organization often used in the courtroom.

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