Effective Research Strategies: Speaking to Your Audience & Purpose

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  • 0:01 Researching Your Topic
  • 0:32 Researching Strategies
  • 3:09 Researching for an Audience
  • 5:15 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: 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.

Conducting research is more than just typing a few keywords into a search database. In this lesson, you will learn about effective research strategies and how to tailor your research to your audience.

Researching Your Topic

Researching a speech can seem like a daunting task. Many people will ask me, 'How do I start researching my speech?' First, you need to understand the definition of research. Research is a method of studying resources to learn facts. You can gain some credibility with your audience by citing research in your speech to support your main points. In this lesson, you will learn about research strategies and how to tailor your research to specific types of audiences.

Researching Strategies

When researching a speech or even a paper, you should try to do the following:

  • Research early
  • Mark materials
  • Take notes
  • Use a variety of sources

Researching early means to research from the start, before you even develop your main ideas. Doing this will help you to ensure that you have adequate sources and information. You will be able to be sure that the main ideas in your speech are not too broad or too narrow. Additionally, doing your research as you develop your speech will allow you to easily incorporate what you find into your speech.

Another effective strategy for researching a speech is to mark materials, either with a Post-it note or with a highlighter as you review your research. For example, I print or save all of the information I find from a library database that I like. I keep this research within a 3-ring binder. I keep this binder with me and review the information whenever I get some extra time in my day. As I read, I highlight supporting materials that look interesting to me, like examples, statistics, and testimonies.

When I'm writing my speech, I like to refer back to the materials that I've collected to get information. This time, instead of having to read the entire article over again, I simply find the places that I've highlighted.

Taking notes while you research will help you in a couple of ways. First, you will be able to summarize the information as you go, which will allow you to develop your ideas more fully and avoid plagiarism because you will have the proper citations available in your notes. Second, you won't risk mixing up or confusing your research. What I mean is that you will have an organized list of your sources and what information you got from each source, so you won't mistakenly cite the wrong source. Citing the wrong source could cause you to lose credibility with your audience if they notice the mistake.

Make sure you are using a variety of sources in your speech. Don't limit yourself to one database or just the books that you find in one aisle at the library. Remember that your topic can be approached from many different perspectives. A variety of sources will help you create an ethically solid and well-rounded speech. Recent research is best, but don't be afraid to learn about your topic from the perspective of several years ago; it will help you add depth to your speech.

Researching for an Audience

When you are developing your speech, you must keep one thing in mind: audience centeredness, which means the interests and beliefs of the audience are of the utmost importance when developing a speech. If the audience doesn't relate to your speech or find it interesting, then you haven't achieved your purpose as a speaker. You can tailor your research and visual aids to the needs of your audience. If you haven't learned about audience analysis, check out the lessons in the audience analysis chapter!

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