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.

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