Chapter 9: Public Speaking

Learning Objectives

  1. Understand how to craft speeches appropriate to the audience, purpose, and context.
  2. Compose audience-centered general purpose, specific purpose, and thesis statements for a speech.
  3. Identify appropriate and credible sources for a speech.
  4. Identify common components of an introduction and conclusion.
  5. Identify common organizational patterns.
  6. Evaluate the strengths and weaknesses of the four methods of speech delivery.
  7. Employ visual aids that enhance a speaker’s message.
A woman stands at a lectern, giving a presentation.
Public speaking skills transfer to many other areas of your life. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels.

In chapter 1, we defined rhetoric as the art of persuasive speaking. We begin this chapter with this definition because the history of public speaking education in the United States is heavily influenced by ancient Greek and Roman theories of rhetoric. Aristotle’s On Rhetoric covers many of the same topics addressed in public speaking textbooks today, such as speech organization, audience analysis, and persuasive appeals. Even though these principles have been around for thousands of years and have been taught to millions of students, it’s still a challenge to get students to see the value of public speaking. Some students think they already know everything they need to know about speaking in public. Others don’t think they’ll engage in public speaking very often, if at all. Last, many students are anxious or even scared by the thought of speaking in front of an audience. Regardless of how you currently feel about public speaking, try to approach this chapter with an open mind. Learning about and practicing public speaking fosters transferable skills that will help you organize your thoughts, outline information, do research, adapt to various audiences, and utilize and understand persuasive techniques. These skills will be useful in other college classes, your career, your personal relationships, and your civic life.

9.1 Preparing a Speech

There are many steps that go into the speech-making process. Many people do not approach speech preparation in an informed and systematic way, which results in many poorly planned or executed speeches that are not pleasant to sit through as an audience member and don’t reflect well on the speaker. Good speaking skills can help you stand out from the crowd in increasingly competitive environments. While a polished delivery is important and will be discussed more in section 9.2, good speaking skills must be practiced much earlier in the speech-making process.

Analyzing the Audience

Before jumping into the speech writing process, it is worthwhile to engage in audience analysis. One of the first questions you should ask yourself is, “Who is my audience?” While there are some generalizations you can make about an audience, a competent speaker always assumes there is a diversity of opinion and background among their listeners. You can’t assume from looking that everyone in your audience is the same age, race, sexual orientation, or religion. Even if you did have a fairly homogeneous audience, with only one or two people who don’t match up, you should still consider those one or two people. In short, a good speaker shouldn’t intentionally alienate even one audience member.

An audience watches a presentation.
It is important to focus on both commonalities and differences when analyzing an audience. Photo by Matheus Bertelli from Pexels.

Even though you should remain conscious of the differences among audience members, you can also focus on commonalities. When delivering a speech in a college classroom, you can rightfully assume that everyone in your audience is currently living in the general area of the school, is enrolled at the school, and is currently taking the same speech class. In professional speeches, you can often assume that everyone is part of the same professional organization if you present at a conference, employed at the same place or in the same field if you are giving a sales presentation, or experiencing the nervousness of starting a new job if you are leading an orientation or training. You may not be able to assume much more, but that’s enough to add some tailored points to your speech that will make the content more relevant.

In persuasive contexts, understanding your audience allows you to best identify the most effective appeals you can include in your speech. Ethos, logos, and pathos were Aristotle’s three rhetorical proofs, or modes of persuasion, and are still used to reach audiences today.

Ethos is defined as the credibility of a speaker and includes both competence and trustworthiness (Stiff & Mongeau, 2003). Competence refers to the perception of a speaker’s expertise in relation to the topic being discussed. A speaker can enhance their perceived competence by presenting a speech based in solid research and that is well organized and practiced. Trustworthiness refers to the degree that audience members perceive a speaker to be presenting accurate, credible information in a nonmanipulative way. Perceptions of trustworthiness come from the content of the speech and the personality of the speaker (Stiff & Mongeau, 2003).

Logos is defined as the reasoning or logic of an argument. Speakers employ logos by presenting credible information as supporting material and verbally citing their sources during their speech. Carefully choosing supporting material that is verifiable, specific, and unbiased can help a speaker appeal to logos, as can citing personal experience and providing the credentials and/or qualifications of sources of information (Cooper & Nothstine, 1996). Presenting a rational and logical argument is important, but speakers can often be more effective persuaders if they bring in and refute counterarguments. The most effective persuasive messages are those that present two sides of an argument and refute the opposing side (Stiff & Mongeau, 2003).

Pathos refers to emotional appeals. Aristotle was suspicious of too much emotional appeal, yet pathos appears to have become more acceptable in public speaking over time. Stirring emotions in an audience is a way to get them involved in the speech, and involvement can create more opportunities for persuasion and action. Of course, intentionally stirring someone’s emotions to get them involved in a message that has little substance would be unethical. Yet such spellbinding speakers have taken advantage of people’s emotions to get them to support causes, buy products, or engage in behaviors that they might not otherwise, if given the chance to see the faulty logic of a message. More than any other appeal, ethical speakers must be careful not to misuse pathos.

Understanding as much as you can about your audience, then analyzing what types of appeals will work best to reach them, allows you to take an audience-centered approach to public speaking. Balancing these appeals is also important in your pursuit of being a competent and ethical public speaker.

Selecting and Researching a Topic

When beginning the process of coming up with and researching a speech topic, you first want to understand the general purpose of your speech. Speeches typically fall into one of three categories. In some cases, we speak to inform, meaning we attempt to teach our audience using factual objective evidence. In other cases, we speak to persuade, as we try to influence an audience’s beliefs, attitudes, values, or behaviors. Last, we may speak to entertain or amuse our audience. In summary, while there may be some overlap between general purposes, most speeches can be placed into one of the categories based on the overall content of the speech.

Once you have determined your general purpose, you can begin the process of choosing a topic. In this class, you may have a lot of freedom to choose a topic for a speech, but in most academic, professional, and personal settings, there will be some parameters set that will help guide your topic selection. For example, speeches delivered at work will usually be directed toward a specific goal such as welcoming new employees, informing about changes in workplace policies, or presenting quarterly sales figures. In short, it’s not often that you’ll be starting from scratch when you begin to choose a topic.

A man brainstorms at a whiteboard.
Brainstorming is an important method for generating and narrowing speech topics. Photo by Startup Stock Photos from Pexels.

Whether you’ve received parameters that narrow your topic range or not, the first step in choosing a topic is brainstorming. Brainstorming involves generating many potential topic ideas in a fast-paced and nonjudgmental manner. Brainstorming can take place multiple times as you narrow your topic. For example, you may begin by brainstorming a list of your personal interests that can then be narrowed down to a speech topic. It makes sense that you will enjoy speaking about something that you care about or find interesting. The research and writing will be more interesting, and the delivery will be easier since you won’t have to fake enthusiasm for your topic. While it’s good to start with your personal interests, some speakers may get stuck here if they don’t feel like they can make their interests relevant to the audience. In that case, you can look around for ideas. If your topic is something that’s being discussed in newspapers, on television, in the lounge of your residence hall, or around your family’s dinner table, then it’s likely to be of interest and be relevant since it’s current.

Once you have brainstormed, narrowed, and chosen your topic, you can begin to draft your specific purpose statement. Your specific purpose is a one-sentence statement that includes the objective you want to accomplish in your speech. You do not speak aloud your specific purpose during your speech; you use it to guide your researching, organizing, and writing. A good specific purpose statement is audience centered, agrees with the general purpose, addresses one main idea, and is realistic. The following is a good example of a good specific purpose statement for an informative speech: “By the end of my speech, the audience will be better informed about the effects the green movement has had on schools.” The statement is audience centered, seems like a realistic objective for a short speech, and matches with the general purpose by stating, “the audience will be better informed.”

Your thesis statement is a one-sentence summary of the central idea of your speech that you either explain or defend. You would explain the thesis statement for an informative speech, since these speeches are based on factual, objective material. You would defend your thesis statement for a persuasive speech, because these speeches are argumentative and your thesis should clearly indicate a stance on a particular issue. The thesis statement is different from the specific purpose in two main ways. First, the thesis statement is content centered, while the specific purpose statement is audience centered. Second, the thesis statement is incorporated into the spoken portion of your speech, while the specific purpose serves as a guide for your research and writing and an objective that you can measure. A good thesis statement is declarative, agrees with the general and specific purposes, and focuses and narrows your topic. Although you will likely end up revising and refining your thesis as you research and write, it is good to draft a thesis statement soon after drafting a specific purpose to help guide your progress. As with the specific purpose statement, your thesis helps ensure that your research, organizing, and writing are focused so you don’t end up wasting time with irrelevant materials. The following examples show how a general purpose, specific purpose, and thesis statement match up with a topic area:

  1. Topic: Renewable Energy
    • General purpose: To Inform
    • Specific purpose: By the end of my speech, the audience will be able to explain the basics of using biomass as fuel.
    • Thesis statement: Biomass is a renewable resource that releases gases that can be used for fuel.
  1. Topic: Privacy Rights
    • General purpose: To Persuade
    • Specific purpose: By the end of my speech, my audience will believe that parents should not be able to use tracking devices to monitor their teenage child’s activities.
    • Thesis statement: I believe that it is a violation of a child’s privacy to be electronically monitored by their parents.
An image of full bookshelves in a library.
There are numerous research methods, including using library databases and asking a reference librarian for help. Photo by Polina Zimmerman from Pexels.

After generating your topic, purpose, and thesis, you can begin to research and come up with ideas for the content of the speech. Depending on how familiar you are with a topic, you will need to do more or less background research before you actually start incorporating sources to support your speech. Background research is just a review of summaries available for your topic that helps refresh or create your knowledge about the subject. Beyond that, you will need to do more focused research that you will actually use in your speech.

There are several different types of sources that may be relevant for your speech topic including periodicals, newspapers, books, reference tools, interviews, documentaries, and websites. As you find sources, it is also important that you evaluate their credibility. Ask questions like: Is the source reliable and unbiased? Is the information well-supported and up-to-date? Can the information be cross-checked with other sources? Citing credible sources influences the quality of your speech’s content, as well as your own credibility as a speaker.

Organizing the Speech

As you organize your thoughts and supporting materials into speech form, it is helpful to create an outline. Think of your outline as a living document that grows and takes form throughout your speech-making process. Outlines can take different forms (e.g., formal/full-sentence outlines or shorthand/key-word outlines), but generally include the introduction, body, and conclusion of the speech.


We all know that first impressions matter. Research shows that students’ impressions of instructors on the first day of class persist throughout the semester (Laws et al., 2010). Similarly, in the first minute or so of a speech, an audience decides whether or not they are interested in listening to the rest of the presentation. There are five objectives that speakers often aim to accomplish in an introduction. They include getting the audience’s attention, introducing the topic, establishing the speaker’s credibility, demonstrating the topic’s significance, and previewing the speech’s main points.

An attention-getting device is used to capture the audience’s attention and make them want to listen to the speech. There are several strategies you can use to get your audience’s attention, including using humor, citing a startling fact or statistic, using a poignant quotation, asking a question, and telling a story. Effective speakers select an attention-getting device that is creative, appropriate to the topic, and relevant to the audience.

Introducing the topic of your speech is the most obvious objective of an introduction, but speakers sometimes forget to do this or do not do it clearly. As the author of your speech, you may think that what you’re talking about is obvious. But sometimes a speech topic doesn’t become obvious until the middle of a speech and, by that time, many audience members will have become frustrated and tuned out. It is important to include the thesis statement, discussed earlier in this chapter, to clearly articulate the focus of the speech.

A woman holds a microphone and speaks at a lectern.
Numerous factors influence a speaker’s ethos, or credibility, including attire and delivery. A credibility statement is used to demonstrate a speaker’s knowledge or expertise on their speech topic. Photo by Mikhail Nilov from Pexels.

The speech’s introduction is also an appropriate time to explicitly demonstrate your credibility as it relates to your speech topic. A credibility statement allows you to share any training, expertise, or credentials relevant to your topic. This statement could include firsthand experience, previous classes you have taken, or even a personal interest related to your topic.

As you begin a speech, many in the audience might think to themselves, “Why should I care about this topic?” You can address this concern by including a significance statement in the speech’s introduction, which answers the “so what?” question by describing the topic’s relevance or importance. An effective significance statement addresses the audience sitting directly in front of you. While many are good at making a topic relevant to humanity in general, it takes more effort to make the content relevant to a specific audience.

The preview of main points is usually the last sentence of your introduction and serves as a map of what’s to come in the speech. This statement succinctly previews the main points you will focus on in the speech’s body. It is typically one sentence and includes key words like, “first,” “second,” and “finally,” to clearly indicate to an audience how the speech’s points are organized.


Writing the body of your speech takes the most time in the speech-writing process. Your specific purpose and thesis statements should guide the initial development of the body, which will then be more informed by your research process. You will determine main points that help achieve your purpose and match your thesis. You will then fill information into your main points by incorporating various types of supporting material.

There are several ways you can organize your main points, and some patterns correspond well to a particular subject area or speech type. Determining which pattern you will use helps filter through your list of central ideas generated from your research and allows you to move on to the next step of inserting supporting material into your speech. Here are five common organizational patterns:

  1. Topical Pattern: Breaks a larger idea or category into smaller ideas or subcategories.
    • Example: In a speech about the Woodstock Music and Art Fair, you could discuss three genres of music performed: (1) folk, (2) funk, and (3) rock.
  2. Chronological Pattern: Structures a speech based on a timeline or sequence.
    • Example: In a speech about the history of your campus, you could discuss (1) the institution’s founding, (2) how it developed over time, and (3) what the institution looks like today.
  3. Spatial Pattern: Arranges main points based on their layout or proximity to each other.
    • Example: In a speech about theatre, you could discuss the different areas and components of a stage.
  4. Problem-Solution Pattern: Presents a problem and then suggests a solution.
    • Example: In a speech about rising textbook costs, you could discuss (1) the high costs for college students and (2) open educational resources and other low-cost alternatives as solutions.
  5. Cause-Effect Pattern: Sets up a relationship between ideas that shows a progression from origin to result.
    • Example: In a speech about college sports, you might focus on how NIL (Name, Image, Likeness) deals have affected the recruitment and retention of athletes.

Regardless of how you organize your main points, you want to include signposts to help audience members understand where you are in your speech. Signposts are words or phrases that help transition between points or thoughts. For example, aside from and while are good ways to transition between thoughts within a main point. Organizing signposts like first, second, and finally can be used within a main point to help the speaker move through information. Clear transition statements are especially important in between main points. For example, “Now that you know more about the history of Habitat for Humanity, let’s look at the work they have done in our area.”


How you conclude a speech leaves an impression on your audience. There are three important objectives to accomplish in your conclusion. They include restating your thesis, reviewing your main points, and closing your speech.

A group applauding a speaker.
A strong conclusion makes it more likely that you will receive a favorable response from the audience. Photo by Werner Pfennig from Pexels.

As you transition from the body of your speech to the conclusion, restating the thesis of the speech helps reiterate the topic’s importance and cues the audience that you are beginning to wrap things up. After restating the thesis, a review statement reminds the audience of the different main points you discussed. The review statement in the conclusion is very similar to the preview statement in your introduction. Repeating your thesis and summarizing your main points helps the audience retain information from the speech.

Finally, your closing statement adds a sense of closure and completeness to a speech. Like the attention-getting device, your closing statement is an opportunity for you to exercise your creativity as a speaker. The closing statement could amplify the topic’s significance, provide some take-away message, or call the audience to act. Another option is to refer back to the introduction in the closing of the speech, finishing an illustration or answering a rhetorical question that you started in the introduction.

9.2 Delivering a Speech

Think of a speech or presentation you have seen that was poorly delivered. How did that affect your view of the speaker and their topic? Is a poorly delivered speech more bearable if the information is solid and organized? In most cases, bad delivery distracts us so much from a message that we don’t even evaluate or absorb the information being presented. In short, a well-researched and well-prepared speech is not much without effective delivery.

In chapter 1, we briefly discussed managing communication apprehension, including public speaking anxiety, which affects speech delivery. In chapter 4, we covered kinesics and vocalics, which are comprised of many important elements of delivery for public speaking, such as gestures, eye-contact, posture, pitch, volume, and rate. This section covers other important information related to delivery, including selecting an appropriate delivery method, practicing the speech, and employing effective visual aids.

Delivery Methods and Practice Sessions

Different speaking occasions call for different delivery methods. While it may be acceptable to speak from memory in some situations, lengthy notes may be required in others. The four most common delivery methods are impromptu, manuscript, memorized, and extemporaneous.

A man holds a microphone, speaking, while other panelists sit behind him.
Different speaking situations call for different modes of delivery. Photo by Henri Mathieu-Saint-Laurent from Pexels.

When using impromptu delivery, a speaker has little to no time to prepare for a speech. This means there is little time for research, audience analysis, organizing, and practice. For this reason, impromptu speaking often evokes higher degrees of speaking anxiety than other delivery types. Only skilled public speakers with much experience are usually able to “pull off” an impromptu delivery without looking unprepared. Otherwise, a speaker who is very familiar with the subject matter can sometimes be a competent impromptu speaker because their expertise can compensate for the lack of research and organizing time.

Manuscript delivery involves speaking from a script that contains the entirety of a speech. Manuscript delivery can be the best choice when a speech has complicated information and/or the contents of the speech are going to be quoted or published. Despite the fact that most novice speakers are not going to find themselves in that situation, many are drawn to this delivery method because of the security they feel with having everything they’re going to say in front of them. Unfortunately, the security of having every word you want to say at your disposal translates to a poorly delivered and unengaging speech. Even with every word written out, speakers can still make mistakes as they lose their place in the manuscript or get tripped up over their words. The alternative, of course, is that a speaker reads the manuscript the whole time, effectively cutting themself off from the audience.

Completely memorizing a speech and delivering it without notes is known as memorized delivery. Some students attempt to memorize their speech because they think it will make them feel more confident to not have to look at their notes; however, when their anxiety level spikes at the beginning of their speech and their mind goes blank for a minute, many admit they should have chosen a different delivery method. When using any of the other delivery methods, speakers still need to rely on their memory. An impromptu speaker must recall facts or experiences related to their topic, and speakers using a manuscript want to have some of their content memorized so they do not read their entire speech to their audience. The problem with memorized delivery overall is that it puts too much responsibility on our memory, which we all know from experience is fallible.

Extemporaneous delivery entails memorizing the overall structure and main points of a speech and then speaking from keyword/key-phrase notes. This delivery mode brings together many of the strengths of the previous three methods. Since you only internalize and memorize the main structure of a speech, you don’t have to worry as much about the content and delivery seeming stale. Extemporaneous delivery brings in some of the spontaneity of impromptu delivery but still allows a speaker to carefully plan the overall structure of a speech and incorporate supporting materials that include key facts, quotations, and paraphrased information. You can also more freely adapt your speech to fit various audiences and occasions, since every word and sentence isn’t predetermined.

Practicing a speech is essential no matter which delivery method you use. You should start by practicing the speech early. Reading sections of your speech aloud as you draft them will help ensure your speech is fluent and sounds good for the audience. As you progress through the speech-crafting process, you should also practice in front of and solicit feedback from a trusted source. Doing so helps boost your confidence and gives you valuable feedback that you can use to improve the end product. Finally, you may also want to audio or video record your speech. All of these methods of practice will help you improve your delivery and gain familiarity with your content.

Using Visual Aids

A woman holds up a chart as a visual aid.
Your occasion, audience, and purpose dictate what type of visual aids you should consider using. Photo by Antoni Shkraba from Pexels.

Visual aids help a speaker reinforce speech content visually, which helps amplify the speaker’s message. There are several types of visual aids, and each has its strengths in terms of the type of information it lends itself to presenting. But while visual aids can help bring your speech to life, they can also add more opportunities for things to go wrong. Therefore, we will discuss some tips for effective creation and delivery as we discuss the following types of visual aids: objects, posters and handouts, whiteboards, videos, and presentation software.


Objects are common visual aids in demonstration speeches and training sessions. In other speeches, objects can be used to represent an idea, offering the audience a direct, concrete way to understand what you are saying. Models also fall into this category, as they are scaled versions of objects that may be too big (the International Space Station) or too small (a molecule) to actually show to your audience. Additionally, different types of pictures are objects that you can use to connect to your audience on a personal level. Here are some tips for using objects effectively:

  1. Make sure your objects are large enough for the audience to see.
  2. Think twice about if and when you’d like to pass the objects around, as that can be distracting.
  3. Hold your objects up long enough for the audience to see them.
  4. Do not talk to your object, wiggle or wave it around, tap on it, or obstruct the audience’s view of your face with it.
  5. Practice with your objects so your delivery will be fluent and there won’t be any surprises.

Posters and Handouts

Posters generally include text and graphics and often summarize an entire presentation or select main points. Posters are frequently used to present original research, as they can be broken down into the various steps to show how a process worked. Posters can be useful if you are going to have audience members circulating around the room before or after your presentation, so they can take the time to review the poster and ask questions. Posters are not often good visual aids during a speech, because it’s difficult to make the text and graphics large enough for a room full of people to adequately see. The best posters are those created using computer software and professionally printed on large, laminated paper.

Handouts can be a useful alternative to posters. Think of them as mini posters that audience members can reference and take with them. Audience members will likely appreciate a handout that is limited to one page, is neatly laid out, and includes the speaker’s contact information. It can be appropriate to give handouts to an audience before a long presentation where note taking is expected, complicated information is presented, or the audience will be tested on or have to respond to the information presented. In most regular speeches less than fifteen minutes long, it would not be wise to distribute handouts ahead of time, as they will distract the audience from the speaker. It’s better to distribute the handouts after your speech or at the end of the program if there are others speaking after you.


Whiteboards (along with chalkboards, flip charts, and other similar visual aids) can be useful for interactive speeches. If you are polling the audience or brainstorming, you can write down audience responses easily for everyone to see and for later reference. They can also be helpful for unexpected clarification. If audience members look confused, you can take a moment to expand on a point or concept using the board. Since many people are uncomfortable writing on whiteboards due to handwriting or spelling issues, it’s good to anticipate things that you may have to expand on and have prepared extra visual aids or slides that you can include if needed. You can also have audience members write things on boards or flip charts themselves, which helps get them engaged and takes some of the pressure off you as a speaker. When using whiteboards as a primary visual aid, you should also think about how often your back is turned to the audience, as that can hurt audience engagement.


Video clips as visual aids can be powerful and engaging for an audience, but they can also be troublesome for speakers. Whether embedded in a PowerPoint presentation or accessed through YouTube, video clips are notorious for tripping up speakers. Technology is not always reliable and online videos often have built-in advertisements that can be distracting. Therefore, it is very important to test your technology and any video clips you plan to show before your speech, have a backup method of delivery if possible, and be prepared to go on without the video if all else fails. Although sometimes tempting, you should not let the video take over your speech. You should also make sure your video is relevant and that it is cued to where it needs to be.

Presentation Software

A speaker gives a presentation with a PowerPoint as his visual aid.
PowerPoint presentations are common in professional and educational settings. Photo by Pavel Danilyuk from Pexels.

Whether it’s PowerPoint, Prezi, Canva, Keynote, or Google Slides, presentation software is often a convenient and effective visual aid. But despite the fact that most of us have viewed and created numerous PowerPoint presentations, we still see many poorly executed slideshows that detract from speeches. In order to effectively use PowerPoint and similar products, follow these tips:

  1. Use a consistent theme with limited variation in font style and font size.
  2. Be concise and avoid complete sentences.
  3. Limit the amount of text and bullet points per slide.
  4. Use relevant images.
  5. Avoid unnecessary animation or distracting slide transitions.
  6. Only have a slide displayed when it is relevant to what you’re discussing.
  7. Don’t read directly from the slides.

Key Concepts: Content and Delivery

Take some time to think about the balance between the value of content and delivery in a speech. We know it’s important to have solid content and to have an engaging and smooth delivery to convey that content, but how should each category be weighted and evaluated? Most people who have made it to college can put the time and effort into following assignment guidelines to put together a well-researched and well-organized speech. But some people are naturally better at delivering speeches than others. Some people are more extroverted, experience less public speaking anxiety, and are naturally more charismatic than others. Sometimes a person’s delivery and charisma might distract an audience away from critically evaluating the content of their speech. Charismatic and well-liked celebrities and athletes, for example, are used to endorse products and sell things to the public. We may follow their advice because we like them, instead of basing our choice on their facts or content. Aristotle, Cicero, and other notable orators instructed that delivery should be good enough to present the material effectively but not so good or so bad that it draws attention to itself. But in today’s celebrity culture, the packaging is sometimes more valued than the contents. This leads us to some questions that might help us unpack the sometimes tricky relationship between content and delivery.

Discussion Questions:

  1. Do you think worries about content or delivery contribute more to speaking anxiety? Explain your choice.
  2. How should someone be evaluated who works hard to research, organize, and write a speech, but doesn’t take the time to practice so they have good delivery? What if they practice, but still don’t deliver the speech well on speech day?
  3. How should we evaluate a speaker who delivers an engaging speech that gets the audience laughing and earns a big round of applause, but doesn’t verbally cite sources or present well-organized ideas?
  4. Is it ethical for someone to use their natural charisma or speaking abilities to win over an audience rather than relying on the merit and strength of their speech content? In what speaking situations would this be more acceptable? Less acceptable?


Cooper, M. D., & Nothstine, W. L. (1996). Power persuasion: Moving an ancient art into the media age. Educational Video Group.

Laws, E. L., Apperson, J. M., Buchert, S., & Bregman, N. J. (2010). Student evaluations of instruction: When are enduring first impressions formed? North American Journal of Psychology, 12(1), 81–92.

Stiff, J. B., & Mongeau, P. A. (2003). Persuasive communication (2nd ed.). Guilford Press.


Chapter 9 was adapted, remixed, and curated from Chapters 9–12 of Communication in the Real World: An Introduction to Communication Studies, a work produced and distributed under a CC BY-NC-SA license in 2013 by a publisher who has requested that they and the original author not receive attribution.


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Keys to Communication: An Essential Guide to Communication in the Real World Copyright © 2023 by University of Montevallo Department of Communication is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.