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Tuesday, December 23, 2008

The four objectives of a speech introduction

A. The first objective is to gain the attention and interest of the audience.

B. The second objective of a speech introduction is to reveal the topic of the speech.

C. The third objectives of a speech introduction is to establish the credibility and good will of the speaker.

D. The fourth objective of a speech introduction is to preview the body of the speech.

Seven Methods that can be used to Gain Attention in an Introduction

1.One method of gaining attention is to relate the topic to the audience.

a. People pay attention to things that affect them directly.
b. No matter what other interest-arousing lures a speaker uses, she or he should always relate the topic to the audience.

2. A second method of gaining attention is to state the importance of the topic.

a. An audience is not likely to be interested in a topic they regard as unimportant.
b. Whenever a speaker discusses a topic whose importance may to demonstrate its importance in the introduction.

3. A third method of gaining attention is to startle the audience.

a. This method can be highly effective.
b. It is important, that the startling material be directly related to the speech.

4. A fourth method of gaining attention is to arouse the curiosity of the audience.

a. People are curious.
b. Their interest can be engaged with a series of statements that whet their curiosity about the subject of the speech.

5. A fifth method of gaining attention is to question the audience.

a. A speaker can use either a single question or a series of questions.
b. The question or questions should be firmly related to the content of the speech.

6. A sixth method of gaining attention is to begin with a quotation.

a. A well-chosen quotation can add depth, human interest, or humor to an introduction.
b. The quotation will be most effective if it is no longer than a sentence or two.

7. A seventh method of gaining attention is to tell a story.

a. Because all people enjoy stories, this may be the most effective method of beginning a speech.
b. For this method to work, the story must be delivered well.

8. Other methods of gaining attention include referring to the occasion, inviting audience participation, using audio equipment or visual aids, relating to a previous speaker, and beginning with humor.

a. All of these methods can be effective depending on the audience, the topic, and the occasion.
b. Unlike the first seven methods of gaining attention, these additional methods are used more frequently in speeches outside the classroom.

Five Tips For Preparing an Effective Introduction

A. The introduction should usually be relatively brief.

B. Speakers should keep an eye out for potential introductory material as they research the speech.

C. Speakers should be creative when devising their introductions.

D. Speakers should not be concerned with the exact wording of the introduction until the body of the speech is finished.

E. The introduction should be worked out in detail so it can be delivered effectively.

Sunday, December 14, 2008

The Major Functions of a Speech Conclusion.

There are four tips for preparing an effective conclusion

A. Speakers should keep an eye out for potential concluding materials as they research the speech.

B. Speakers should conclude with a bang instead of a whimper.

C. Speakers should not be long-winded in the conclusion.

D. Speakers should prepare the content and delivery of their conclusions with special care.

A Speech Conclusion Has Two Primary Functions.

A. The first function is to signal the end of the speech.

1. Abrupt ending leave listeners surprised and unfulfilled.

2. One way to signal the end of a speech is with a brief verbal cur such as “In conclusion” or “One last thought.”

3. Another way to signal the end is by the speaker’s manner of delivery.

a. In a crescendo ending, the speech builds in force until it reaches a zenith of power and intensity.

b.In a dissolve ending, the final words fade like a spotlight on a concert singer, bringing the speech to an emotional close.

B. The second function of a conclusion is to reinforce the audience’s understanding of or Commitment to the central idea of the speech.

1. There are four methods of accomplishing this.

a. One method is to summarize the main points of the speech.

b. A second method is to conclude with a quotation.

c. A third method is to end with a dramatic statement.

d. A fourth method is to refer back to the introduction of the speech.

2. These methods can be used separately or in combination to create an effective conclusion.

Public Speaking as Expanded Conversation

Public speaking retains three important characteristics of good conversation.First it preserves the natural directness and spontaneity of informal talk. Second, it is colorful. And third, it is tuned to the reactions of listeners.

Public Speaking Preserves Conversational Directness and Spontaneity.

Even though a speech has been carefully researched, thoughtfully prepared, and well rehearsed, it should sound conversational and spontaneous as it comes to life before an audience. Those words bear repeating; a speech comes to life before an audience. Consider the following opening to a self-introductory speech:

It may seem hot here today, but it’s not near as hot as Dhaka, Bangladesh, where I was born and reared. I almost said “roasted.” John has just told us about the joys of urban living. Now you’re going to hear about what you might call a “country-fried” lifestyle.

Compare that opening with

My name is Rashadul Islam, and I come from Dhaka, Bangladesh.

The first version seems fresh and spontaneous. The “us” and “you,” along with the casual humorous remarks, suggest that the speaker is reaching out to his audience. The second, unless presented with a great deal of oomph, will sound quite ordinary. The first opening invites listening; the second invites yawning.

Public Speaking Is Colorful and Compelling. We enjoy talking with good conversationalists often because their speech is colorful. Consider the following development of the “heat” theme from the above example:

That place was so hot it would make an armadillo sweat! It was so hot that rattlesnakes would rattle just to fan themselves!

Compare those words with the following:

The average summer day in Dhaka was often over a hundred degrees.

The literal meaning of both statements is not that different, but the first contains the kind of vivid conversational qualities that listeners usually enjoy.

Public Speaking Is Tuned to Listeners. Like a good conversation, a good public speech is tuned to listeners. As you converse with people in social situations, you learn to monitor their reactions. If they look confused, you try to explain yourself more clearly. You may even give an example or tell a story. If they frown, you may rephrase an idea or present evidence that supports your views. If they smile or nod, you may feel you have the green light to develop your thoughts.

If good conversations are interactive and audience centered, effective speeches are even more so. Speakers must be constantly aware of the reactions of listeners and make on-the-spot adjustments. But from the very beginning, a speech must be planned with the audience in mind. Your entire speech should be designed to answer the questions that audiences will instinctively ask:

  • Why should I be interested in this topic?
  • What do you mean?
  • How do I know this is true?
  • What can I do about it?

You must give listeners a reason to be interested in the introduction of your speech or you will lose them before you ever get started. Your speech must be clearly organize and your language simple and direct so listeners can understand what you mean. You must provide facts and fingers, examples, ad expert testimony to demonstrate the truth of your statements. If your speech is persuasive, you must give listeners clear directions concerning what they should believe or do.

It seems clear that public speaking – far from being a mysterious skill – is a natural expansion and application of an ability we develop from our earliest years. On the other hand, some features make public speaking distinctive.

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking

What makes public speaking distinctive as a from of communication are the relationships among a set of nine elements: speaker, purpose, message, medium, setting, listener, response, interference, and consequences. These elements interact with one another in ways that can affect those who participate and the world around them. They constitute a dynamic, interactive communication process.

Friday, December 5, 2008

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Speaker)

In public speaking, speaker and listener roles are clearly defined. There is little doubt as to who the speaker and listeners are. Public speaking spotlights the role of the speaker, but whether speakers can take advantage of


Public Speaking

1. Audience-centered

1. More audience-centered

2. Loosely Organized

2. Organized and planned

3. Off of the top of your head

3.Grounded in responsible knowledge

4. Often no clear purpose

4. Has a clear purpose

5. Informal language

5. More formal language

6. Speaker/listeners change roles

6.Speaker/listeners roles clearly defined

7.Informal environment/small group

7.More formal environment/large group

this attention depends on their ability to reward listeners with interesting and useful messages. As Aristotle pointed out more than two thousand years ago, our impressions of speakers themselves affect how we respond to what they say. We are far more inclined, he noted, to react, to react favorably when we think speakers know what they’re talking about and when we trust them. These qualities of competence and integrity form the basis of credibility. Aristotle also noted that audiences respond more favorable when speakers seem likable-when they seem to be people of good will. Modern researchers have uncovered still another important speaker characteristic, forcefulness (or dynamism). Some speakers strike us as vital, action-oriented people. When important interests are at stake and action seems called for, we may turn to such people to lead the way. These qualities of likableness and forcefulness combine to form the basis of charisma. Taken together, credibility and charisma provide an updated account of what Aristotle called the ethos of the speaker.

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Purpose)

People seldom speak in public unless they have some purpose in mind something they wish to accomplish. A purpose can be complex, privet, and psychological. With respect to the public work performed by public speaking, scholars called reroricians have been working to identify major types of purposes for over two thousand years. Aristotle, who lived about 2,400 years ago, near the end of a great era of civilization called the Golden age of Greece, divided purposes into three forms: forensic, deliberative, and ceremonial. The forensic purpose, enacted in speeches before the Athenian courts, satisfied the needs of the justice system. These speeches were concerned largely with past events and with the guilt and innocence of individuals. The deliberative purpose was fulfilled in speeches before the assembly dealing with the formation of public policy. How the future might be shaped and controlled was the business of such speeches. The ceremonial purpose was satisfied by speeches that celebrated what it meant to be an Athenian-an equivalent modern form might be a Fourth of July oration.

By identifying three basic forms of purpose: speeches that inform listeners, speeches that persuade them, and ceremonial speeches given on special occasions. To help you form your purpose-to find and develop an appropriate topic and theme for your speech-we offer suggestions.

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Message)

Successful public speaking offers a massage that is designed to serve the speaker’s purpose. It is based on responsible research and careful thought and should be internally consistent and complete. Its aim is to coax an audience to give sympathetic attention to the speaker’s ideas. It has been carefully worded and rehearsed so that it achieves maximum impact. The message is the product of the speaker’s encoding processes-the effort to convey through words, tones, and gestures how the speaker thinks and feels about the subject. Audience members respond by decoding the message, deciding what the speaker mended and determining the value of the message for their lives.

Shaping a message is a basic public speaking skill. It begins with a search for supporting material-facts, examples, testimony, and stories-that will help convey your purpose.

How you word your message can determine its fate. In the 2,000 presidential elections, George W. Bush used the term compassionate conservatism to describe his philosophy of government. This term quickly became the central theme of his campaign, made it seem focused and coherent, and helped many people relate to him. On the other hand, the wrong words can destroy a speaker’s ethos. One senator, speaking in support of a balanced federal budget, did not help the cause when he declared: “We’re finally going to wrasse to the ground this gigantic orgasm that is just out of control.”

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Medium)

The medium transmits a speaker’s message. When public speaking takes place in a direct, face-to-face encounter, the medium is the air through which the sound travels. When a speech is presented outside or in a large auditorium, a microphone and amplifiers may be part of the medium. We tend to take the medium for granted until we discover something wrong with it, like poor acoustics. Public speeches can also be transmitted through the electronic media of radio, television, and video-or-audiotapes.

The electronic media have major effects on the entire communication process. For example, radio emphasizes the attractiveness, clarity, and expressiveness of a speaker’s voice. Television brings a speaker into a close relationship with viewers, so personality and physical appearance take on added importance. When speakers want news coverage, they must compress important ideas into twenty-second sound bites, and the language must be immediately clear and colorful. Any change in the medium can complicate the speaker’s job.

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Setting)

A speech occurs within a physical and psychological setting that can determine how well it succeeds. The physical setting in which a speech is presented can include such factors as the time the speech is given; the time allotted for the presentation the pace of the presentation, and the size and arrangement of the audience. For example, when speaking outside, a speaker may need a more forceful presentation than when speaking in a small room. A larger audience may require a more formal manner of presentation than a smaller audience. The very quality of the physical setting can affect the speech. For example, one of the most profound discussions of the ethics of communication, Plato’s Pbaedrus, written in ancient Greece some 2,400 years ago, takes place in a woodland setting that frames and colors its message appropriately. In this setting, Socrates envisions an ideal communication that promotes spiritual growth for both listeners and speakers.

One classroom setting in which we taught recently required us to open windows and doors because both heating and air conditioning were inadequate. Speakers often had to contend with unpredictable distractions from outside. The room had an oblong shape, shallow in depth but wide, so that listeners were spread out in front of the speaker. This required the speaker to shift attention from side to side to maintain eye contact. Most of our students eventually learned to adapt to this setting.

The psychological setting for a speech includes such factors as the occasion for the speech and the context of recent events. The occasion for a speech sets the stage for what listeners expect. If they anticipate an informative presentation on investing in the stock market but instead hear a sales pitch for mutual funds, they may feel exploited. Recent events can change the climate of communication and a major crime occurs on campus shortly before your presentation, you may need to adapt your message to fit the changed situation.

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Listener)

A constructive listener is supportive yet listens carefully and critically. Such listeners seek the value in all messages. Because the fate of a message depends on how listeners respond to it, the audience must be at the center of your thinking as you plan, prepare, and present your speeches. What needs or problems concern them? What subjects interest them? What biases could distort their reception of message? Such questions are crucial to the selection of your topic and to the way you frame your message. Moreover, you should be sensitive to the fact that your words could affect the lives of listeners and even their perception of themselves.

Listeners do not come to a speech with a blank slate. Their minds are filled with past experiences, information or misinformation about a topic or speaker, attitudes and values, aspirations and fears. All of these factors form the frame of reference that a listener brings to a speech. The better you understand these audience factors, the more effective your speech will be.

Thursday, November 6, 2008

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Response)

The response to a speech is what happens during and as a result of the speech. Of course you hope that your speeches are well received and that they will affect the lives of your listeners favorably. But whether they achieve that result depends a great deal on what happens during the speech. One of the things that make public speaking dynamic is its interactive quality. While you are speaking, listeners are responding. As they respond, so should you. This makes a speech an interaction in which listeners and speakers constantly adjust to each other. These on-the-spot adjustments lend an unpredictable quality to public speaking that can make it an interesting and exciting form of communication. Note the adjustment that one of our speakers made during a speech on the dangers of global warming;

Some of you are frowning, and I can hardly blame you. This is really hard to believe. But let me quote to you the words of Time magazine in a recent survey of all these scientific discoveries: “Except for unclear war or a collision with an asteroid, no force has more potential to damage our planet’s wed of life than global warming.” Yeah. I know. Tough words. Maybe an exaggeration. But I don’t think so. And I don’t think we can afford to ignore the threat, hoping it will be untrue or that it might just go away.

Although somewhat unpredictable, public speaking is also prepared, and this student was ready for such a possible response to his speech.

The technical term for the response listeners make during a speech is feedback. Feedback is important because it can improve the quality of communication. It can alert you to problems, signaling that some listeners railed to understand the point you just made, or that others are drifting away, or that still others may want more proof before they are willing to grant your point. Therefore, a good speaker will constantly monitor feedback so that she or he can make adaptations to make the speech more effective.

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Interference)

Interference can enter at any point in the process to disrupt the effectiveness of communication. Interference, which we discuss further in Chapter 3, can range from physical noise that impedes the hearing of a speech, such as a plane flying over the building, to psychological “noise” within speakers and listeners that prevents them from connecting.

Three forms of interference are especially troubling. The first is speaker apprehension. Fear is an understandable reaction to public speaking experiences. The situation may seem strange, and speakers may feel exposed and vulnerable. Listeners may seem distant, unfriendly, or threatening. Beginning speakers will learn to control their fears and to convert them into positive energy that adds sparkle and power to a speech. But at the outset, these feelings can interfere with effective communication.

A second form of interference is listener distraction, which imposes a barrier between an audience and a message. Listeners may decide that a topic really doesn’t concern them and lapse into daydreams. They may be distracted by worries over an upcoming test or dreams about the weekend ahead. Limitations in the physical setting, such as poor acoustics or a noisy environment can add to the distraction. Listener apprehension, the counterpart of speaker apprehension, can further compound the problem. We discuss such fear of listening in Chapter 3. The result of all these factors is psychological drift away from the speech. The message never really reaches the listener, and there is no true response to the speech.

A third important form of interference is cultural barriers. People from different backgrounds can view each other suspiciously. Speakers may prejudge how certain listeners will respond to their words and as a result make poor adaptations that listeners resent. Listeners may fear hidden agendas and close their minds to the speaker’s words. Stereotypes about race, gender, lifestyle, religion, nationality, and so forth can clutter our heads with prejudice that blocks the fair reception and interpretation of messages. The result is psychological distance and misunderstanding-the opposite of what speakers hope to achieve.

Distinctive Features of Public Speaking (Consequences)

Successful speeches obviously have impact. As a result of them, listeners learn, decide to change their minds or to take action, or join in celebrating the meaning of exemplary lives. Moreover, if we could see the communication process at work in a speech, we might also see the identities of speakers and listeners coming into or out of focus of communication or show those same people growing larger or smaller. These effects would all represent the consequences of public speaking, especially the ethical impact of public speaking as transactional and transformational communication.

Transactional communication suggests that successful communication goes beyond personal achievement and the sharing of vital information, ideas, and advice. It implies the sharing and sharing of sieves. In the introduction to Bridges Nor Walls, John Stewart, an interpersonal communication scholar, notes: “Every time persons communicate, they are continually offering definitions of themselves and responding to definitions of the other(s)......” therefore, Stewart suggests, communication is an ongoing transaction “in which who we are.......emerges out of the event itself.” We agree: public speaking is often a self-creative event in which we discover ourselves as we communicate with others.

This may seem like a mystical idea, but in large social movements when many speeches work together over time to create the identities of speakers and audiences, the transactional effects can be quite obvious. Consider what happened during the civil right movement from 1956 to 1965, when it was led by Martin Luther King Jr. During those years, King repeatedly identified himself with the biblical Moses. He spoke as though he had been destined and commanded by God to lead his followers out of semislavery. His followers, accordingly many of whom had suffered from the degrading identities assigned to them in the land of segregation, were redefined by his rhetoric as the “Children of Israe!.” Through the many battlefields of the civil rights movement where they moving toward a Promised Land. King was still offering visions of that land on the night before he was assassinated.

The example illustrates not only transactional but transformational communication as well. The figure of King grew and expanded into epic proportions as his leadership emerged. His followers were transformed into heroic figures as they marched through one ordeal after another. These transformations indicate how people can grow and develop when they interact in ethical communication. On the other hand, deceitful and dishonest communication will thwart the process of spiritual growth.

Supporting Materials and Critical Thinking

The materials used to support a speaker’s ideas. The skillful use of Supporting Materials often makes the difference between a poor speech and a good one. It is also closely related to Critical Thinking. Using supporting materials is not a matter of haphazardly tossing facts and figures into your speech. You must decide which ideas need to be supported, give your audience, topics and specific purpose. You must to research to find materials that will being your ideas across clearly and creatively. And you must evaluate your supporting materials to make sure they really do back up your ideas.

As you put your speeches together, you will need to make sure your supporting materials are accurate, relevant, and reliable. You will find yourself asking questions such as “Are my example representative?” “Am I using statistical measures correctly?” “Am I quoting reputable, qualified sources?” Assessing the supporting materials in your speech – as well as in your speech of your classmates—is yet another way in which critical thinking is part of public speaking.

Now we focus on the basic kind of supporting materials – example, statistics, and testimony – and on general principle for using them effectively and responsibly.

Sunday, November 2, 2008

Supporting Materials (Example)

A specific case used to illustrate or represent a group of people, ideas, conditions, experiences, or the like.

Across from a small, grassy park dedicated to Greek and Irish immigrants, Joe Cogliano, whose grandparents were Italian, sells mangoes to Hispanic customers from the back of his truck. Children play tag while chattering in Spanish on O’Brien Terrace, part of the housing project built in 1939 for Irish laborers. The pungent odor of Vietnamese fish sauce fills a Southeast Asia restaurant where Giavis’ Greek Grocery once thrived for more than 70 years.

These were the opening lines of an article in Time Magazine about the interaction of cultures in Lowell, Massachusetts. It illustrates a device well known to magazine writes – and speech makers: get the audience involved.

See how skillfully this example accomplishes the goal.It begins by focusing attention on a particular person (Joe Cogliano). It then provides details of time and place that set the scene vividly before our eyes. We almost feel ourselves there in Lowell buying mangoes from the back of Cogliano’s truck, listening to the sound of children, smelling the Vietnamese fish sauce. We would not be nearly as involved if the article had merely said, “Many cultural groups interact in Lowell on a daily basis.” The example something in us that no generalization can.

Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Supporting Materials (Brief Examples)

A specific case referred to in passing to illustrate a point. Brief examples-also called specific instances-may be referred to in passing to illustrate a point. The following excerpt uses a brief example to illustrate the miraculous nature of recent advances in creati9ng artificial limbs for accident victims:

Changes in technology have made it possible for doctors to work wonders that once seemed impossible. Roger Charter, for example, lost both his feet when they were crushed in a truck accident. Now he has new feet – made of a spring plastic alloy that duplicates a normal arch. Not only can Roger walk normally, but he can run and play sports again!

A brief example may also be used to introduce a topic.

Supporting Materials (Extended Example)

Extended examples are often called illustrations, narratives, or anecdotes. They are longer and more detailed then brief example. By telling a story vividly and dramatically, they pull listeners into the speech. Here is such an example, from a speech about the astonishing similarities that sometimes exist between identical twins:

After 40 years of separation from his identical twin, James Lewis began his search for his long-lost brother. They had been separated a few weeks after birth and were adopted by different families. Their reunion took place at the home of the other twin—James Springer. Upon meeting, they found that they had more in common then their first names.

Both had married a woman named Betty, been divorced, and remarried a woman named Sally. Both had similar jobs as deputy sheriffs, McDonald’s employees, and gas station attendants. Both liked to build wood furniture in their basement workshops. Both put on 10 pound as teenagers and lost it latter. Both had the same favorite subjects in school, were bad spellers, and suffered from migraine headaches and sleeping problems. All in all, they shared 27 matching characteristics.

This long example captures vividly the many likenesses that often exist between identical twins. The speaker could merely have said, “identical twins are a lot alike,” but the story makes the point far more vividly.

Supporting Materials (Hypothetical Example)

Weather brief or extended, example can be either factual or hypothetical. All the example presented up to now have been factual; the incidents they refer to really happened. Sometimes, however, speakers will use a hypothetical example-one that describes an imaginary situation. Usually such examples are brief stories that relate a general principle.

An example that describes an imaginary or fictitious situation is say Hypothetical Example.

Here is how one student used a Hypothetical Example to illustrate the need for college student to protect themselves against crime.

You’re tried; you’re hungry. You’ve just spent a long day at College Library and you can’t wait to get back to your room. Glancing outside, you remember how quickly it becomes dark. You don’t think much of it, though, as you bundle up and head out into the gusty wind. Not until you spy the shadows on the sidewalk or hear the leaves rusting beside you do you wish you weren’t alone. You walk quickly, trying to stop your imagination from thinking of murderers and rapists. Only when you are safely inside your room do you relax and try to stop your heart from pounding out of your chest.

Can you remember a time when you felt this way? I would be surprised if you never have. The FBI reported last year that there were three murders, approximately 430 aggravated assaults, 1,400 burglaries, and 80 raps here in Madison alone. And while there statistics are quite alarming, they don’t compare to the numbers of larger metropolitan areas.

This Hypothetical Example is particularly effective. The speaker creates a realistic scenario, relates it directly to her listeners, and gets them involved in the speech. In addition, she uses figures from the FBI to show that the scenario could really happen to any of her classmates. Whenever you use a Hypothetical Example, it is a good idea to follow it with statistics or testimony to show that the example is not far-fetched.

Supporting Materials and Critical Thinking (Expert Testimony)

Testimony from people who are recognized experts in their fields. In most speeches you will probably rely on expert testimony – testimony from people who are acknowledged authorities in their fields. Expert Testimony is especially helpful for student a speaker because students are seldom recognized as experts on their speech topics. Citing the views of people who are experts is -a good way to lend credibility to your speeches. It shows that you are not just mouthing your own opinions, but that your position is supported by people who are knowledgeable about the topic.

Expert Testimony is even more important when a topic is a controversial or when the audience is skeptical about a speaker’s point of view. The following story explains how one speaker enlisted expert testimony for speech on reforming the US Social Security System:

As Julia Wang did her research on how to make Social Security more equitable for younger taxpayers, she became convinced that individual citizens should be allowed to invest their Social Security funds directly in the stock market. Yet Julia was not an expert on the matter. Nor did she have any firsthand experience with the Social Security System. How could she convince her audience to accept her ideas?

Statistics helped, and so did examples. But on such a controversial topic, that was not enough. So to reinforce her credibility, Julia quoted a wide range of experts who agreed with her – Illinois Congressman John Porter; Jeffrey Sachs, a Harvard economics professor; former US Social Security Commissioner Dorcas Hardy; Jose Pinera, president of the international Center for Pension Reform; former US Secretary of Commerce peter G Peterson; and Timothy Penny of the Democratic Leadership Council. By citing the views of these experts – some of whom might be expected to disagree with her point of view – Julia made her speech much more persuasive.

Supporting Materials and Critical Thinking (Peer Testimony)

Another type of testimony often used in speeches is Peer Testimony – opinions of people like ourselves; not prominent figures, but ordinary citizens who have firsthand experience on the topic. This kind of testimony is especially valuable because it gives a more personal viewpoint on issues then can be gained from expert testimony. It conveys the feeling, the knowledge, and the insight of people who speak with the voice of genius experience.

For example, if you were speaking about the barriers faced by people with physical disabilities, you would surely include testimony from doctors and other medical authorities. But in this case, the expert testimony would be limited because it cannot communicate what it really means to have a physical disability – such as the following:

Itzhak Perlman, the word-renowned violinist whose legs are paralyzed, once said; “When you are in a wheelchair, people don’t talk to you. Perhaps they think it is contagious, or perhaps they think crippled mind. But whatever the reason, they treat you like a thing.”

Paul Longmore, who lost the use of his legs as a child, notes that most people are uncomfortable in the presence of someone who is handicapped. “It’s only when they really go out of their way to get to know us,” he says, “that they realize we are just as bright, witty, and companionable as they are.”

There is no way expert testimony can express these ideas with the same authenticity and emotional impact.