Selecting Relevant Support for Your Speech

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  • 0:01 Relevant Support
  • 1:44 Relevancy and Appropriateness
  • 4:02 Variety
  • 5:46 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.

Supporting materials are the foundation of any good speech. This lesson shows you how to find the right type of supporting materials for the ideas and concepts in your speech!

Relevant Support

Imagine this: you're sitting in class and the teacher walks in. They stand at the front of the classroom, open up a book, and read a definition from the book. Then they dismiss everyone for the day and walk out of the room. Do you understand the material that was covered in that class? Probably not. Advanced concepts require more than just definitions, right? You may ask for an example or a scenario that helps you understand the concept being taught.

As a speaker, you have the same responsibility to your audience. It is likely that your audience won't have a copy of your speech or an accompanying textbook. It is your responsibility as a speaker to make sure your audience understands all of the elements of your speech. You can do this by selecting relevant support for your speech.

Supporting materials are resources used to give your main points credibility. Supporting materials can be used for a variety of reasons. For example, if you gave an informative speech over the medical benefits of cinnamon, most people aren't going to believe you unless you provide them with some sort of research that supports what you say. This is why supporting materials give you credibility in your speech. There are different types of supporting materials you can use in your speech:

  • Examples (brief, extended, and hypothetical)
  • Statistics
  • Testimony (expert, peer)

For more information on each type, check out our lessons on types of supporting materials. In this lesson, we will focus on how to select the right type of support for relevancy, appropriateness, and variety in your speech.

Relevancy and Appropriateness

Once you've completed your research and have started outlining your speech, you'll want to select supporting material for its relevancy and appropriateness. Many students make the mistake of including research in their speeches that have no real relevancy to the points of the speech. Many times, a teacher will require students to include a certain number of sources in their speeches. Because of this, students will stick in extra supporting materials that don't actually support their speeches.

There are two tests you can use to determine the relevancy of the supporting material in your speech. First, make sure the supporting material directly relates to your main point and a sub point. If your supporting material is just sitting alone in your speech, then it is likely not relevant or you haven't developed the content of your speech properly. Second, if your supporting material does relate to one of your main points and a sub point, then ask yourself does the material:

  • Quantify an idea or concept in your speech? (statistics)
  • Clarify or simplify an idea or concept in your speech? (brief example)
  • Enhance an idea or concept in your speech? (extended example)
  • Reinforce an idea or concept in your speech? (peer testimony and hypothetical example)
  • Add credibility from an expert in your speech? (expert testimony)

If you can answer yes to at least one of these questions and justify your answer, then your material is likely to be relevant to the content of your speech.

Each of these questions are related to one or more types of supporting materials, too, which can help ensure you choose the appropriate supporting materials. For example, if you answered yes to the question does the material quantify an idea or concept in your speech?, then you should have a statistic or some type of numerical supporting material. If not, then you may want to reevaluate the answer to your question; your material may not be appropriate for that part of your speech. If you answered yes to the question does the material add credibility from an expert in your speech?, then the material should be some sort of expert testimony that also enhances the content of your speech.

Variety

Now, let's talk about including a variety of supporting materials. You can include a variety of supporting materials in two different ways. First, you can make sure that your research comes from a variety of sources and is balanced between different opinions.

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