Understanding When & How to Cite Sources During a Speech

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  • 0:01 Citing Sources During…
  • 0:37 How to Cite Sources
  • 2:44 When to Cite Sources
  • 5:04 Citing Sources in a Visual Aid
  • 6:40 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Cathryn Jackson

Cat has taught a variety of subjects, including communications, mathematics, and technology. Cat has a master's degree in education and is currently working on her Ph.D.

Expert Contributor
Jenna Clayton

Jenna received her BA in English from Iowa State University in 2015, and she has taught at the secondary level for three years.

Sometimes it can be confusing knowing when and how to cite sources during a speech, especially when using a visual aid like PowerPoint. This lesson has some tips and tricks to help you!

Citing Sources During a Presentation

Malea is creating a visual aid for a class presentation she is giving about becoming a volunteer. She wants to persuade her audience to volunteer more in the community. She has several charts and pictures that she has used from different nonprofit organizations. She's feeling confident about her presentation and visual aids. There's only one problem: Malea wants to give credit to the organizations for the pictures and charts, but she isn't sure how to do this in her presentation. In this lesson, you will learn how and when to cite sources during a presentation and how to cite sources in a visual aid.

How to Cite Sources

Citing sources in a speech has a special name. You've probably heard of a Works Cited or Reference page, or parenthetical citations. Speeches have similar citations called oral citation, which is a verbal reference given to a source or piece of research in a speech. Let's talk about what to include and phrasing.

When citing sources in your speech orally, you will need to include some information. You won't include all of the information that is located on your Works Cited page, but you won't just say the author's last name and page number. Generally, you'll want to include the title of the work, whether it's a book, an article, or a website. You'll need to include the author of the work and the date. Sometimes, if the author is not well-known, you may want to include the author's credentials so that your audience knows that you are citing a credible source. If you can't cite the author's credentials, giving the title of the book or academic journal will also be acceptable.

Phrasing an oral citation is also important. You can cite information orally in different ways like this:

'According to Robin Blackburn in the 2011 article 'Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln: A Curious Convergence,' published in the academic journal Historical Materialism, Blackburn says that Karl Marx was an enthusiastic supporter of the Union in the U.S. Civil War.'

Or, like this:

'Karl Marx was an enthusiastic supporter of the Union in the U.S. Civil War, as explained by Robin Blackborn in the 2011 academic journal Historical Materialism. In the article 'Karl Marx and Abraham Lincoln: A Curious Convergence,' Blackborn goes on to say that Marx believed the war was based on economic policy, not slavery.'

You can use key words to develop the phrasing necessary for oral citations, such as:

  • According to
  • Explains
  • Says (goes on to say)
  • As reported by (or CNN reports that)
  • Blackborn writes that

I've used the examples of news sources and authors with CNN and Blackborn, but you can use any news source or author in place of these names for the research that you are citing.

When to Cite Sources

Now that you know how to cite a source, when do you cite it in your speech? You'll want to provide all of the information the first time you cite your source. Many students wonder about repeating sources and special cases. First, when you have more information to cite in your speech that comes from a previously cited source, you don't have to repeat all of the information. For example, Malea cites this information first pretty early in her speech:

'JoAnn Grif Alspach explains in the article 'Harnessing the Therapeutic Power of Volunteering' in the 2014 edition of Critical Care Nurse that volunteering has a significant number of mental health benefits, including an improved sense of well-being and satisfaction with life.'

Later, Malea says:

'Now let's discuss the employment and work benefits of volunteering. In the previously cited article, 'Harnessing the Therapeutic Power of Volunteering,' Alspach says that individuals who volunteer acquire or enhance new skills and have greater odds (27%) of finding a job after being unemployed compared to those who did not volunteer.'

This is just one of many ways Malea could cite a previously cited source. She didn't need to mention the article title; she could have just mentioned the author or just the periodical. As long as she is giving her audience a cue that this is a previously cited source, she doesn't need to worry about giving all of the information.

Second, citing sources orally in a speech means that you have to make a judgment as a speaker when it comes to necessary and unnecessary information. For example, if you are citing Stephen Hawking in your speech, you don't need to cite his credentials or really even the work that you found the information. Or, if the date isn't a relevant part of the information, such as repeating the lines from a Martin Luther King speech, then as a speaker you won't need to cite this information when saying the lines.

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Additional Activities

Citing Sources Presentation Activity

Present an Informative Speech

For this activity, you will present an informative speech about a topic of your choice. For this speech, you will need to find credible sources to use and cite in your speech. It is expected that you use and successfully cite at least three different sources. Make sure to include all of the necessary information when citing a source orally. First, you will need to determine the topic of your speech. Find something that you are interested in or is related to your field of study/future career. If you are having a difficult time brainstorming ideas, take a look at the list below. Feel free to use any of these ideas. Once you have determined your topic, decide what main points you want to talk about in your speech. For example, if you choose to write about the benefits of exercise, you may want to focus on three main ideas related to this topic. For example, you could focus on the following benefits: better mental health, improved sleep, and maintaining a healthy body weight. You would then want to find credible sources that support your main ideas that you would incorporate in your speech. If you divide your speech into three main points, you could simply find a source to go with each main point. Although you will be presenting this information as a speech, it is important that you first write down your speech as you would a research paper. Keep in mind that just like a research paper, you will want to structure your speech with an introduction, body paragraph information (main ideas), and a conclusion.

Possible Speech Topics:

  • The health effects of coffee
  • Saving money in college
  • Equal rights
  • Mental health issues
  • Gender roles
  • PTSD
  • Benefits of exercise
  • Recycling
  • Economics of a country
  • Negative effects of social media use
  • Holiday traditions around the world

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