Supporting Ideas of a Speech: Development, Selection and Characteristics

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  • 0:02 What Are Supporting Ideas?
  • 1:06 How Supporting Ideas Are Used
  • 3:35 Tips on Supporting Ideas
  • 4:37 Lesson Summary
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Lesson Transcript
Instructor: Kat Kadian-Baumeyer

Kat has a Master of Science in Organizational Leadership and Management and teaches Business courses.

When used appropriately, supporting ideas will help strengthen your speech and persuade your audience by giving it the depth needed to add clarity and credibility to your claims.

What are Supporting Ideas?

It's easy to make a claim like, say, 'the moon is made of green cheese'. After all, how many people have ever been there to refute the statement?

But just saying something is not enough. Your speech should be based on something more than your own opinion. It should contain supporting ideas that supplement the thesis or main idea of your speech.

Supporting ideas paint the picture of what the speech will be about. Now, don't confuse these with main ideas. A main idea is the overall central point of the speech, which differs from supporting ideas in many ways.

Unlike main ideas, supporting ideas back up the central theme of the speech.

So, you claim the moon is made of cheese. Here are a few ways you can support this idea:

  • Examples
  • Definitions
  • Narration
  • Comparisons
  • Contrasts
  • Statistics
  • Testimony

Wow, that's quite a list. Not to worry, you would not use all of them; just what fits best into the overall main idea.

How Supporting Ideas are Used

An example is a representation of a person, place, action or thing.

You can do this by showing the audience a replica of the moon dangling from a string. The replica of the moon will give the audience members a good idea of what the moon looks like close up.

Next, you can provide a definition of the moon. This is a statement of the meaning of a word.

Telling the audience that the moon is actually a natural satellite of the Earth will help you make your point. After all, it might be hard to make your points if members of your audience think the moon is actually a planet.

Using narration may be helpful. That is telling a story or describing actions that can be used to support your speech.

Perhaps the speaker can talk about folklore that is based on the moon's milky make-up.

Comparisons are a popular tool. Use these to point out similarities between two or more things.

Take a trip to your local cheese monger and fetch a large wheel of Gorgonzola. Then, place it next to the replica of the moon.

When the audience sees the similarity in color and shape, they are sure to agree with your claim.

You could also do the opposite. Contrasts point out the differences between two or more things.

Use these to force the audience to think in new ways. This can be done by showing a mock solar system that depicts the differences between all planets and the moon.

Statistics is the study of the collecting, analyzing and interpreting data. Now, this may not be so useful in the moon/cheese argument but it can be useful to prove other points.

Did you know that the moon's surface is about 14.6 million square miles, which is about 92.6% less surface area than the Earth's surface. This is about 4 times the surface area of the United States.

This is important if one was planning on traveling to the moon to take a sample of its surface. Don't take too much, it's not that large.

Nothing beats the word from the street. Testimony is the statements of a witness. Just find someone who people respect who will also say that the moon is made of cheese.

Did you know that in 1546, English writer John Heywood even wrote a poem about a cheesy moon? Oh, I mean that the moon was made of green cheese.

Now, let's see about putting them into the speech.

Tips on Using Supporting Ideas

Like any convincing argument, your speech must appeal to your audience's beliefs and values.

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