Public Speaking: Use a Thesis Statement

Rafael Baptista is the ICMA Local Government Management Fellow for Durham City/County. He is a recent graduate of the MPA program at the University of North Carolina –Chapel Hill. He serves on the ELGL Management Team and is a contributing author to Careers in Government. He holds a Bachelor’s Degree in Politics and Spanish from Willamette University where he was a member of the debate team. He has advanced to the elimination rounds of two collegiate national debate championships. Connect with Rafael on LinkedIn and Twitter.

Jerry Seinfeld said: “According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.”

Rafael Baptista is one of those rare people who actually likes public speaking, and he’s here to share his tips with ELGL, in hopes of calming your fears whether you’re speaking at a council meeting or a wedding reception. 

The Importance of a Thesis Statement

In the last installment, I discussed the “tell them” approach to public speaking. Today’s installment will explain why you should make sure that your writing and public speaking includes a thesis statement. A thesis statement focuses your talk, which results in greater understanding from the audience (and that translates into less stress for you).

In this post I will first define what a thesis statement is, the importance of having a thesis statement, and how to incorporate a thesis statement into your writing and public speaking.

What is a Thesis Statement:

Very simply, your thesis statement is the main argument of your paper or speech. It tells the reader what you are trying to convince them of or explain to them. The thesis statement of this post is that you should include a thesis statement in your writing and public speaking.

The importance of a thesis statement:

A thesis statement allows a reader or listener to quickly understand what it is they should be getting from you. Much like the “tell them” approach, a thesis statement is an organizational tool. It ensures that there is no doubt about the purpose of what you are trying to communicate. It provides the audience with a clear takeaway.

But a thesis statement is also a persuasive tool. Regardless of if they leave or stop reading early or get confused later on, they will know the takeaway you provided them. This is especially important in longer presentations where a listener may lose focus.

How to incorporate it:

You should clearly state your thesis statement early in your presentation or speech. In this post, I included my thesis statement in my third sentence. Throughout your paper or speech make sure that you are consistently referencing back to your blog post both explicitly and implicitly.


In summary, this post has defined what a thesis statement is, why it is important, and how to incorporate it into your writing and public speaking. I hope you will start using thesis statements in all your public speaking and writing.

Have any questions or comments about this post? Feel free to tweet me @RafaelBaptista5 or email me. Also make sure to reach out to me with any future topic suggestions.

Supplemental Reading