Active voice

when the subject in a sentence performs the action

Ad hominem

A fallacy that connects a real or perceived flaw in a person’s character or behavior to an issue he or she supports, asserting that the flaw in character makes the position on the issue wrong.


a speaker’s opinion about what should or should not be done


Advocacy is the promotion of an idea, cause, concept, or information; includes actions toward a specific goal; and finds solutions to current problems

Aesthetic experience

Something happens where the audience is captivated by the speaker’s delivery of their argument

After-dinner speeches

A humorous speech that makes a serious point. These speeches get their name from the fact that they historically follow a meal of some kind.


discrimination and/or prejudice based on one's age


repetition of initial consonant sounds in a sentence or passage


a brief account or story of an interesting or humorous event

Appeal for action

when a speaker asks their audience to engage in a specific behavior or change in thinking

Appeals to tradition

A fallacy that invovles arguing that traditional practice is the only reason for continuing a policy

Appreciative listening

takes place while listening to music, poetry, or literature, or watching a play or movie


A series of statements in support of a claim, assertion, or proposition


A presentation that does not occur with an audience in real time but is recorded and watched at later time.


the device a speaker uses at the beginning of a speech to capture an audience’s interest and make them interested in the speech’s topic


a positive or negative response to a person, idea, object, or policy

Audible aids

musical excerpts, audio speech excerpts, sound effects, etc.

Audience analysis

process of gathering information about the people in your audience so that you can understand their needs, expectations, beliefs, values, attitudes, and likely opinions

Audience anxiety

communication apprehension prompted by specific audience characteristics including similarity, subordinate status, audience size, and familiarity.


A fallacy that asserts that because something is popular (or seems to be), it is therefore good, correct, or desirable


statements we hold to be true


the process and practice of searching to find ideas or information

call in

creating a message that both relates to and implicates your audience; it is to summon

captive audience

an audience that is required to be present or feel obligated to do so


the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as caring about the audience member

causal fallacy

A fallacy that assumes that one thing causes another, but there is no logical connection between the two

cause/effect pattern

organizational scheme where main points of a topic start with the cause, followed by the effect


a call to engage in some kind of activity that requires a contest or special effort


a graphical representation of data or a sketch representing an ordered process


the assumption that people today are superior to people who lived in earlier eras

chronological organizational pattern

grouping information based on time order or in a set chronology—e.g. first this occurred, then this, then this, then that

civic engagement

Listening to information that's relevant to your community/communities and using public outlets like voting, petitioning, or speaking to participate in democracy.


a declarative statement or assertion

closed system

information that is behind a paywall or requires a subscription

cognitive dissonance

when we are confronted with conflicting information or viewpoints, we reach a state of dissonance, or tension between ideas and beliefs

cognitive restructuring

Changing how you label the physiological responses you will experience when experiencing communication apprehension

Commemorative speeches

A speech to pay tribute publicly by honoring, remember, or memorializing another person.


the degree to which a speaker is perceived to be knowledgeable or expert in a given subject by an audience member

comprehensive or active listening

listening focused on understanding and remembering important information from a public speaking message

concluding device

essentially the final thought you want your audience members to have when you stop speaking

Confirmation Bias

searching for or interpreting information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions

Connotative meaning

the idea suggested by or associated with a word at a cultural or personal level


communication creates meaning and, thus, reality

Context anxiety

anxiety prompted by specific communication contexts


happening in a particular time and place

controversial topics

topics where people have deeply felt values and beliefs on different sides

critical listening

evaluating the validity of the arguments and information and deciding whether the speaker is persuasive and whether the message should be accepted

critical thinking

decision-making based on evaluating and critiquing information— to identify, sort, and evaluate (mostly) scholarly information


Culture refers to the collection of language, values, beliefs, knowledge, rituals, and attitudes shared amongst a group

defamatory speech

false statement of fact to damage a person’s character


Setting limits on what it means, how the audience should think about the word, and/or how you will use it

Definitional speeches

A speech that seeks to clarify or simplify concepts, theories, or ideas that an audience may be otherwise unfamiliar.


the process of discussing feasible choices that address community problems


how information is delivered


actions that attempt to manipulate by distorting an audience through prejudice and emotion

demographic information

gender, age range, marital status, race, socioeconomic status, and ethnicity of the people in your audience


sociocultural characteristics that identify and characterize populations

Denotative meaning

the specific meaning associated with a word


visual representations that simplify a complex process

Directional transitions

a type of transition that both reviews and previews


when someone purposefully twists information in a way that detracts from its original meaning


discrimination and/or prejudice based on perceived social status or value


the art of delivering speeches

empathetic listening

understanding the feelings and motivations of another person, usually with a goal of helping


outcomes that you desire to achieve


the practice of what’s right, virtuous, or good


the belief that one’s own culture is superior to others


speaker credibility


A speech given in honor of someone who has passed away.


proof or support for your claim


specific instances that illuminate a concept

explicit audience

the audience that’s present when a speaker directs their message

Exploratory research

sorting information to find broad topics or ideas that you’ll narrow down later

Extemporaneous speaking

the presentation of a carefully planned and rehearsed speech, spoken in a conversational manner using brief notes


erroneous conclusions or statements made from poor analyses

False Dilemma

A fallacy that occurs when you are given only two options, but more than two options exist

figurative language

using comparisons with objects, animals, activities, roles, or historical or literary figures

focus group

a small group of people who give you feedback about their perceptions

frame of reference

the unique set of perspectives, experience, knowledge, and values belonging to every individual

free speech

the right to express information, ideas, and opinions free of government restrictions based on content and subject only to reasonable limitations


A pictorial representation of the relationships of quantitative data using dots, lines, bars, pie slices, and the like

hasty generalization

A fallacy that involves making a generalization with too few examples

hate speech

language directed against someone or a community’s nationality, race, gender, ability, sexuality, religion or citizenship


physical process in which sound waves hit your ear drums and send a message to your brain


a word or phrase where the meaning cannot be predicted from normal, dictionary definitions

implied or implicated audience

the groups that are either represented and/or affected by our message.

Impromptu speaking

the presentation of a short message without advance preparation


we often recognize the underlying warrant without it being explicitly stated

information processing

The ability to understand the message being communicated. Our minds can usually process much faster than a speaker can speak clearly. Also known as excess mental capacity.

informative speech

A speech that seeks to share information that: a) increases audience understanding around a topic, b) provides an alternative, and/or c) raises awareness.


to affect or arouse someone

Internal previews

a type of connective statement that provides an overview of what is coming next within the main point

Internal summaries

a type of connective statement that reviews what has been covered within the main point


one-on-one exchange in which you ask questions


a speech or document is not always written in the same order as the audience finally experiences it


specific, technical language that is used in a given community.

keynote address

A speech focused on a key theme or idea—generally defined by the event or occasion— with the purpose of unification

lateral reading

fact-checking source claims by reading other sites and resources


a small raised surface, usually with a slanted top, where a speaker can place notes during a speech


an active process where you are specifically making an effort to understand, process, and retain information


Appeals to reason or logic


the word-for-word iteration of a written message


the tools or behaviors we employ to achieve a desired outcome


reciting a written message that the speaker has committed to memory


direct comparisons

mind map

a visual tool that allows you to chart and expand key topic ideas or concepts

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence

A persuasive organizational structure that includes five steps — attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action.

mythical norm

a filter that informs our willingness to view a speaker as credible that is often based on dominant cultural norms and/or identities


stories that clarify, dramatize, and emphasize ideas


important deficiencies that we are motivated to resolve


anything, whether physical or mental, that interrupts the listening process

Online public speaking

Online public speaking is a form of speaking for an audience that takes place through new media platforms.

open system

information that is publicly available and accessible

parable or fable

allegorical anecdote designed to teach general life lessons


repetition of sentence structures


Appeals to emotion

personal inventory

process of tracking ideas, insights, or topics that you have experience with or interest in


“the process of creating, reinforcing, or changing people’s beliefs or actions” (Lucas, 2015, p. 306).

Persuasive speaking

addressing a public controversy and advocating for a perspective that the speaker hopes the audience will adopt


using someone else’s words or ideas without giving credit

Planned redundancy

purposeful ways of repeating and restating parts of the speech to help the audience listen and retain the content


a raised platform or stage

Policy propositions

Policy propositions identify a solution to correct the problem

positive self-talk

disputing your negative thoughts and replacing them with positive ones

positive visualization

Visualization is the process of seeing something in your mind’s eye, positive visualization is literally imagining and picturing yourself in a positive way


When you speak, you are elevating certain perspectives, and those often lead to the empowerment or disempowerment of people, places, things or ideas. Communicating is never neutral because meaning is always being negotiated

Preparation outlines

comprehensive outlines that include all of the information in your speech, are written in full sentences, and include citations and a reference page

Presentation aids

resources beyond the speech itself that a speaker uses to enhance the message conveyed to the audience


information at the beginning of a list

problem-solution pattern

similar to cause/effect, but it also includes advocating for a key solution


biased or misleading information that promotes a particular agenda

Propositions of fact

Propositions of fact answer the question, “is this true?”

Propositions of value

Propositions of value argue that something is good/bad or right/wrong

psychographic information

beliefs, attitudes, and values that your audience members embrace

Public controversies

community disputes that affect a large number of people

public speaking

a speaker attempts to move an audience by advocating for a purposeful message—through informing, persuading, or entertaining—in a particular context.

Public speaking apprehension

fear associated with giving a public speech


discrimination and/or prejudice based on race


how quickly or slowly you say the words of your speech

red herring

A fallacy that involves creating a diversion or introducing an irrelevant point to distract someone or get someone off the subject of the argument.


to critically consider how our values, assumptions, actions, and communication affect others


the process of discovering new knowledge and investigating a topic from different points of view

response question

a question that the audience is expected to answer in some manner.


a component of a conclusion in which a speaker revisits the main points of the speech

rhetorical question

a question to which no actual reply is expected

selective recall

we selectively attend to, perceive, and recall information that supports our existing viewpoints

serial position effect

the idea that humans remember information in a linear fashion


discrimination and/or prejudice based on biological sex or gender expression


a type of connective statement that alerts or signals the audience


closely related to metaphors, and use “like” or “as” when crafting a comparison

Situational anxiety

communication apprehension created by “the unique combination of influences generated by audience, time and context” (McCroskey, 2001)

slippery slope

A type of fallacy which assumes that taking a first step will lead to subsequent events that cannot be prevented

socioeconomic status

a combination of characteristics including income, wealth, level of education, and occupational prestige

spatial pattern

organization in space or direction

speaking outline

a keyword outline used to deliver a speech – often an extemporaneous speech

specific purpose statement

builds on your general purpose (such as to inform) and makes it more specific

speech of acceptance

A speech given by the recipient of a prize or honor.

speech of commencement

A speech to recognize and celebrate the achievements of a graduating class or other group of people

speech of dedication

A speech designed to highlight the importance of a building, award and/or other project and possibly those to whom the project has been dedicated.

Speech of introduction

A mini-speech given by the host of a ceremony that introduces another speaker

speech of presentation

A brief speech given to accompany a prize or honor

Speeches of demonstration

Speeches that are commonly called “how to” speeches because they show the audience how to do something

Speeches of description

A speech that seeks to provide a clear, vivid, and memorable picture of a person, place, thing, idea, or alternative

Speeches of explanation

A speech that details processes or how something works, often explaining an otherwise complex, abstract, or unfamiliar idea to the audience

speeches that memorialize

Speeches that celebrate and honor the person or group of individuals on a significant date – Veterans Day, for example


the collection, analysis, comparison, and interpretation of numerical data


generalizing about a group of people and assuming that because a few persons in that group have a characteristic, all of them do

Straw person

A fallacy that shows only the weaker side of an opponent’s argument in order to more easily tear it down


how you effectively craft and execute your ideas, like word choice


a set of questions administered to several—or, preferably, many—respondents


a word, icon, gesture, picture, object, etc.—that stand in for and represent a thing or experience


A presentation that is experienced by an audience in real-time.

Target audience

Members of the audience who you are seeking to influence with your message.


the words of others

thesis statement

a single, declarative statement that outlines the purpose of your speech


A speech designed to congratulate, appreciate, or remember.

topical organizational pattern

grouping information into key categories


taking one characteristic of a group or person and making that the “totality” or sum total of what that person or group is

Trait anxiety

Trait anxiety measures how people feel in different contexts, some people feel more uncomfortable than the average person regardless of the context, audience, or situation.


a type of connective statement that bridges between main points


turning of the text where the literal meaning is changed or altered to provide new insight


the degree to which an audience member perceives a speaker as honest


goals we strive for and what we consider important and desirable

verbal delivery

what symbols you select and how you portray them

Verbal punctuation

the process of imagining the words as they’re written to insert purposeful, punctuated pauses to conclude key thoughts

visual aids

pictures, diagrams, charts and graphs, maps, and the like

Vivid language

Language that evokes the senses and is language that arouses the sensations of smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, and feeling

Vocal enunciation

pronouncing words correctly and the expression of words and language

vocalized fillers

e.g. “like, and, so, uh.”


the relative softness or loudness of one’s voice

voluntary audience

an audience that gathers because they want to hear the speech, attend the event, or participate in an event


Warrants connect the evidence and the claim


A webinar is a meeting or presentation over the Internet using a tool web conferencing tools


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Speaking Confidently Copyright © 2021 by Chris Loghry; Jasmine R. Linabary; and Kenna Reeves is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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