Allow me a few minutes to illustrate why you want to know how to write an outline . . .
When I was a kid, my family would take a yearly trip to Florida. My dad always drove, never used a map, but went entirely on “instinct.” Needless to say, we often got lost and had to do a lot of back tracking. Eventually we’d reach our destination, more exhausted than we should have been, and my parent’s more angry at each other than what would would have made for an enjoyable vacation.
We’d spend the next two weeks soaking up the sun, drinking all the orange juice we could hold, and completely dreading the return trip through what inevitably turned out to be a deja vu in reverse.
Of course my dad loved to “spice” up the trip even more by always buying retreaded tires for the 1,600 mile journey. It never failed that, just when we were the most lost any humans could be, one of the rear retreads would start to come unglued. So just to accentuate the anxiety of hopelessly being in a strange place without a clue, the “thump, thump, thump” of the rubber coming off would help us keep our nerves on end just that much more.
The “thump, thump, thump” would become a “slap, slap, slap” as the pieces became torn up, and grew louder and louder until we couldn’t hear ourselves think. Suddenly, a final crash as the remaining large piece hit the undercarriage of the car, and then . . . dead silence.
I remember the rush that silence gave me. A full ten seconds of sheer and utter peace!
Then of course my mom would start yelling at my father in French, and the silence was broken for the next 50 miles, or until the next retread started coming off.
I won’t get into what happened after we got to Florida, and all the great site seeing drives we took. I just wished I had paid attention. or wrote everything down, because now I’d be able to make a fortune selling road maps to all the dead end streets in the state of Florida my dad found!
I hope you found my little story amusing. I assure you it’s a completely true and accurate account of my family vacations. And it happened the same way every year. The only variations took place when my grandmother came along and then there were two women yelling at my dad in French.
But the point I’m making in all of this is, while I can chuckle about it now, it wasn’t fun then. Had my father used a map and thought out the trip more carefully, we would have had a much more enjoyable time with memories not riddled with the fear of being lost and the anxiety of having our lives in the hands of a man without a plan.
Of course this story is extreme when you compare it to subjecting your readers to an unstructured, illogical article. But on the other hand, your readers will have a much easier way out than I did if you do get them lost and anxious.
They can click off your web page, or close your book and leave you groping along that strange road alone.
Yes dad, I would have if I could have. Sorry.
So have a plan! When you make a presentation, map it out. Learn how to write an outline so you can lead your readers to the destination you wish to take them to without the fear of losing them by getting lost yourself.