University of Hawai'i Maui Community College Speech Department

Supporting A Speech

A Definition:
The term supporting materials refers to the information a person provides to develop and/or justify an idea that is offered for a listener's consideration. Supporting materials serve a variety of functions in oral presentations: to clarify the speaker's point, to emphasize the point, to make the point more interesting , and to furnish a basis that enables others to believe the speaker's point. Without supporting materials, an oral presentation is little more than a string of assertions (claims without backing).

General Guidelines for Supporting Materials

1. Pertinence -- Each piece of support should be clearly relevant to the point it is used to support.

2. Variety -- The presentation should not rely excessively on one type of support (such as examples) but should instead use a number of different forms of support.

3. Amount -- The presentation should include a sufficient amount of support (enough to make the ideas presented both clear and compelling to the audience).

4. Detail -- Each piece of support needs to be developed to the point that audience members can both understand the item of support AND can see how the item backs up the point it is used to support.

5. Appropriateness -- Each piece of supporting material should meet the demands that the audience and the occasion place on the kind of material that is likely to be received favorably. A "scholarly" audience, for example, will probably place higher demands on the speaker's sources of information than a "general" audience would. A "graphic" description of a particular topic, while entirely fitting in some occasions, might be out of place in another.

Specific Guidelines for Supporting Materials

Supporting materials are usually offered in recurring forms. Depending upon the form of support provided, you should ask yourself some questions to determine if you are making the best possible use of that kind of material:

For Examples/Narratives:

* Is the example/narrative representative?
* Is the example/narrative sufficiently detailed and vivid?
* Is the example/narrative personalized?
* If necessary, was the source cited in the speech?

For Statistics:

* Is the source of the statistic reliable?
* Has the source of the statistics been cited in the speech?
* Has the statistic been used correctly?
* Have you rounded-off complicated statistics?
* Have you interpreted the statistic (explained it in another way)?
* Have you done something to emphasize the statistic?
* Have you used statistics sparingly?

For testimony

* Is the source qualified to make the statement you're quoting?
* Is the quotation accurate?
* Have you attributed the testimony prior to the quote?
* Have you made it clear whether you are paraphrasing or quoting directly?
* If you are quoting, is the quotation brief?
* Have you clearly signaled where the testimony begins and ends?
* Are the source's conclusions reasonably free from bias?

For comparison/contrast

* Is comparison appropriate and justified?
* Is the comparison meaningful -- does it tell your audience something valuable?
* Have you avoided overdoing the comparison?
What do you think?
Do you have any questions, comments, concerns, suggestions, or supporting ideas of your own that you would like to share? If so, contact me, Ron St. John, with your feedback. I will get back to you as soon as possible. Be sure to state the title or subject matter, so I know to what material you are referring. Thank you for visiting the Public Speakers' Sites!

The Public Speakers' Resources
|Public Speakers' Page | Speech 151 | Speech 251 | Public Speaking Resources|
|Supporting Your Speech | Sample Speeches | Speech Practice | Speaking Tips|
|Speech Anxiety | Team Presentations | Group Communication | Interviewing|
|Using Visual Aids | ESL Links | Anonymous Feedback | Ron St. John|
|The Learning Center | MCC Library | Maui Language Institute|
|Distance Education Academic Support Services|
|The Ho'oulu OnLine (Student Newspaper)|
|The University of Hawai'i at Manoa|

Page Designer: Ron St. John
Copyright 2002 - Ka Leo Kumu
Last Revised: January 16, 2002