Example of Simplified Informative Speech Outline

Your name

Your class

The date

"The Kentucky Fried Rat and Other Tall Tales"

General Purpose: To Inform

Specific Purpose: To inform my audience as to what urban legends are and why they exist.

Central Idea: An urban legend is a story spread through word of mouth that serves a purpose in our society.

Pattern of Organization: Topical


Have you heard the one about the fried rat found at Kentucky Fried Chicken? (rhetorical question-attention getter)
Or "A man in Charleston died after eating a fried rat at a local Kentucky Fried Chicken." (startling fact)
(Transition: I couldn't believe this so I checked the Internet on the Urban Legends site. From this search, I learned how to tell truth from fiction.)

Urban legends are not a new phenomenon. (Introduce the topic)

I have studied urban legends for the last few years because they are so fascinating. (Establish credibility)

In order to better understand this phenomenon, let me explain what an urban legend is and what purpose it serves in our society. (Central idea, preview, blueprint)

(Transition: First, let me explain what urban legends are.)


I. Urban legends are stories which are spread primarily through word of mouth, are widespread, and frequently involve acts of violence or tragedy.

(Transition: Now that you know what we are dealing with, you are probably wondering why these stories exist.)

II. Urban legends serve four main functions.

A. They teach a lesson

1. Quote from Brunvand(1992)

2. Examples

a. Example of stranger in the backseat

b. Example of light flasher

c. Example of the kidney heist

B. They allow us to discuss common fears in a non-threatening way.

C. They give us the opportunity to have villains and heroes.

1. Quote from Smith (1998)

2. Examples

a. AIDS Mary

b. Stranger in the house

D. They provide traditional entertainment--story telling.

(Transition: So obviously there are some fairly important reasons for the existence of these stories.)


I. To summarize, urban legends are stories which are spread by word of mouth, are widespread, and frequently involve violence or tragedy. They also serve 4 main functions: teaching lessons, allowing discussion of fears, allowing discussion of villains and heroes, and provide entertainment.

II. After this, I hope you’ll never react to the Kentucky Fried Rat story the same way!


(separate page)


Brunvand, Jan. The Baby Train. Westport: Greenwood, 1992.

Emery, Tom. "Ratburger." Urban Legends and Folklore.

9 April 2001. About.com. 29 June 2002.


Harris, Tom. "How Urban Legends Work," How Stuff Works. 2001. 29 June 2002


Smith, John. "Urban Legends." Modern Folklore. June 1998: 56-67.


Presentation Aids

* PowerPoint presentation

* Handout