Effective Public Speaking
Effective Public Speaking

Effective Public Speaking

Lead Author(s): George Griffin and Contributors

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Designed to teach the skills and build the confidence your students need to become effective public speakers.

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Key features in this textbook

Effective Public Speaking gives students the confidence and competence in preparing and presenting speeches with real student videos, a comprehensive glossary, up to five in-class activities per chapter, and a full chapter on controlling speech anxiety.
Using Bongo for Top Hat, students can practice their oral communication skills and get feedback from instructors or their peers.
Built-in assessment questions embedded throughout chapters so students can read a little, do a little, and test themselves to see what they know!

Comparison of Public Speaking Textbooks

Consider adding Top Hat’s Effective Public Speaking textbook to your upcoming course. We’ve put together a textbook comparison to make it easy for you in your upcoming evaluation.

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

Pricing

Average price of textbook across most common format

Up to 40-60% more affordable

Lifetime access on any device

$121.80

Hardcover print text only

$99.29

Hardcover print text only

$114.52

Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Content meets standard for Introduction to Anatomy & Physiology course, and is updated with the latest content

In-Book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Only available with supplementary resources at additional cost

Customizable

Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Pricing

Average price of textbook across most common format

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

Up to 40-60% more affordable

Lifetime access on any device

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

$121.80

Hardcover print text only

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

$99.29

Hardcover print text only

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

$114.52

Hardcover print text only

Always up-to-date content, constantly revised by community of professors

Constantly revised and updated by a community of professors with the latest content

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

In-book Interactivity

Includes embedded multi-media files and integrated software to enhance visual presentation of concepts directly in textbook

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

Customizable

Ability to revise, adjust and adapt content to meet needs of course and instructor

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

All-in-one Platform

Access to additional questions, test banks, and slides available within one platform

Top Hat

George Griffin, Effective Public Speaking, Only one edition needed

McGraw-Hill

Stephen Lucas, The Art of Public Speaking, 12th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking: An Audience-Centered Approach, 9th Edition

Pearson

Beebe & Beebe, Public Speaking Handbook, 5th Edition

About this textbook

Lead Authors

George Griffin, Professor of SpeechKeiser University

George Griffin earned his degrees at the University of West Florida and Auburn University. He has been teaching college, business seminars and workshops for over 30 years, while still doing public speaking engagements for non-profit organizations. Currently, he is serving as the Professor of Speech at Keiser University, Orlando, and as Adjunct Professor at Stetson University. George is also the author of “STAGE FRIGHT! A Student-Friendly Guide to Managing the Jitters.”

Contributing Authors

Wade CorneliusNew Mexico State University

Kathryn DederichsUniversity of St. Thomas

Morgan GintherInstructional Designer at Texas A & M

Luke GreenSt. Cloud Technical and Community College

María Elena BermúdezGeorgia State University

Daryle NaganoEl Camino College

Wendy YarberryFlorida State College at Jacksonville

Allen DavisIndiana University

Jasmine RobertsOhio State University

Krista MacDonaldDoña Ana Community College

Explore this textbook

Read the fully unlocked textbook below, and if you’re interested in learning more, get in touch to see how you can use this textbook in your course today.

Chapter 14: Effective Word Selection

Pick your words carefully. They make a difference. [1]


“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”
- Maya Angelou                                                                                                                                                 

Table of Contents

Learning Objectives

After reading this chapter, you will be able to:

  • Identify how we use language to communicate.
  • Understand why miscommunication occurs between speaker and listener.
  • Distinguish between connotative and denotative word meanings.

  • Tap into the power of language.
  • Choose appropriate language based upon time/place and audience expectations.
  • Use inclusive language.
  • Avoid language traps such as slang, jargon, and inflammatory language.
  • Understand how the spoken word differs from the written.

 

Introduction

“Hey guys, what’s going on down by the student center? It looked like protestors or something when I drove by, but I couldn’t hear what they were saying- just a bunch of chanting or something.”

“I heard it’s a group called ‘Reclaim Your Heritage.’ Apparently, they’re protesting against any nonwhite exchange students who are attending school here. I saw a poster that said ‘Ship ‘em back in a sack!’ That’s just sick!”

“Why doesn’t somebody do something about them? Can’t they throw their sorry butts in jail for inciting a riot or disrupting the peace? Can they even be on campus if they’re not students?”
“Well, as much as I agree, they have the right to free speech, and as long as they have a permit to gather, it’s all legal. This is a state university, so it’s not considered private property. I don’t like what they stand for either, but I think it’s a slippery slope if we begin telling people what they can and cannot say, you know?”

“That’s all well and good until somebody gets hurt. You know how stuff like this escalates. First it’s marching around with posters. Next thing you know, there’s a fight, and somebody’s dead. I know it makes me mad, and I’m not even affected by all of this. I can’t imagine what it would be like to be one of those exchange students.”

We all like the idea of freedom of speech, don’t we? We want people to have the right to say what they believe and to stand up for their rights. But sometimes the words chosen can really impact the message and how we receive it. If we look at the scenario above, what can we learn about freedom of speech? First and foremost, a peaceful, lawful protest is our right. But the words you choose to speak during that protest will set the tone. Will your words spread truth, motivate, and call for change, or will your words cause fear and spread hate? It all depends on the words you speak. Do you choose words that have violent undertones or do you chose neutral words that can begin a discussion? Have you ever really thought about how important your words are? The legislature in Missouri thinks this topic is so important that a course in free speech may soon be required to graduate from college there. You can read the article here

Q14.01
No correct answers: No correct answer has been set for this question

Do you think a class that discusses freedom of speech should be a required course?

A

No. This is over the top. Who needs another required class!?

B

Yes. This could be a useful class.


As you might have already figured out, this chapter is all about words. You’ve already learned so much about becoming a better public speaker. You know how to research, how to analyze your audience, how to argue your point, how to overcome your fear. So now we’re down to the nuts and bolts – choosing your words. We’re going to look at how effective word selection can impact your speech and influence your listeners. But before we do, how about a short refresher course on how language works and how we make sense out of a bunch of symbols, rules, and codes?

How Language Works

Chris Tucker delivers one of my favorite lines from a movie to Jackie Chan in the film Rush Hour, “Do you understand the words that are coming out of my mouth?” While that scene makes us laugh, it actually goes much deeper than that. There’s a truth hidden in there. Sometimes it isn’t as easy as you might think to understand the words coming out of someone’s mouth. If you’ve ever had trouble communicating with someone because of an accent or a language difference, then you literally couldn’t understand the words used. In that situation, most of us expect some confusion, and we work harder to understand what’s being communicated. But honestly, most of the time, an accent is not going to be at the root of your communication problems. You’re more likely to have a problem because of a “processing error.” 

Language barriers aren't the only things you have to overcome to communicate properly. Sometimes your own inner dialogue is just as difficult to overcome. [2]​

Let me give you an example of a processing error. You call and ask that cute girl from your study group if she wants to see a movie. When she says, “No, I can’t,” aren’t you already trying to figure out what she’s really saying? No, because I’m already in a relationship. No, because I don’t like you. No, because I already have plans. You’re so busy trying to figure out the hidden meaning behind the words that you take the conversation to a whole new level. Come on – admit it. We’ve all done it. It’s not just the words coming out of her mouth that create the problem. Your perception, your ego, and that tiny voice in your head all play an equal part in you deciphering the message you heard. You are your own worst enemy when it comes to communication errors.

Q14.02

Your perception – and your ego – can cause you to misunderstand a message.

A

True

B

False


Encoding vs. Decoding

Part of the problem comes from how we make sense out of the words we hear. We use a two-part process called encoding and decoding. Remember this from Chapter 1? The speaker does the encoding – chooses the words they’ll use, how they’ll deliver the words (angrily, forcefully, sweetly), and the delivery channel (face-to-face conversation, text message, email, etc.). Here’s an encoding example: You want a raise. You deserve a raise. But the only way you’re going to get a raise is to go in and ask your boss for a raise. You’ve probably already figured out what you want to say. You want to sound confident and deserving, right? You don’t want to sound like you’re begging. You have been planning this for days. You think to yourself, “What time of day is best to ask? How will I start? What tone will I use? What examples will I use to prove I’m a good employee?” You are actively working on the encoding process when you do all of that. You want the communication encounter to go smoothly, so you prep for it, right?

So would it surprise you to learn that we rarely give conscious thought to encoding? It’s only when we think the conversation is super important that we take our time choosing how, when, and where. Yet, most of the time we simply wing it. We throw the words out there in the most convenient way, with very little, if any, forethought. So it shouldn’t shock you to learn that if we rarely give conscious thought to how we communicate, errors are going to be a natural by-product.

Decoding a message can be even more difficult. The receiver of the message, the listener, has to go through their own process to make sense of what you’re saying. They literally have to “break the code” you’ve sent them. Sounds like secret agent stuff, huh? Sometimes it feels that way, too. Unless you’re really paying attention – and the speaker did a good job of encoding the message – you will have to use your understanding of language, your understanding of the speaker, and your own internal perceptions to come to the intended meaning of the message. 

 Here’s what typically happens: while you’re trying to break the code, you’re likely to run into some interference. Interference like external noise – literal noise from cars on the street or loud music in the background – that makes it hard to even hear all the words just spoken. Add to that the channel the speaker chose. Are you getting their message via text, cell, email, Skype, or face-to-face? It all makes a difference. Imagine someone breaking up with you via text: all you get are the words – and maybe a sad-face emoticon if you're lucky. Are they serious? Is this a joke? Is this sarcasm? What are they feeling? Who knows? Apparently, they’re sad – don’t forget you got a sad-face emoticon. Then, what about what’s going on inside of you? What about the psychological noise going on in your head? How might your emotions get in the way? How might you misinterpret the message? It’s complicated, right? There are communication obstacles everywhere that make the decoding process much more complicated than you might imagine. Getting the message right is a lot harder than it seems. Honestly, decoding should be an Olympic event! 

Q14.03

The process of deciphering a message you receive from someone is known as ______________.


Shared Meaning

Shared experiences make communication easier. How do you establish that ease with an audience of strangers? [3]​

So what helps to ease some of the burden of communicating? In Chapter 1 we discussed how shared symbols can help you encode and decode more accurately. If you can create a shared meaning and a shared frame of reference, it is much easier to correctly interpret messages from others. Don’t you have friends that you know so well that you can finish each other’s sentences? Or maybe one of them only has to say a single word to make you burst out laughing? How is that possible? It’s because you have had shared experiences and conversations. You and your friends probably share a similar style of communicating, and over time you’ve developed your own abbreviated code. Once you’re 'on the same wavelength,' communicating is usually easier. 

Unfortunately, as a public speaker, you’re not always going to have those shared communications with your audience. But you can still ensure that you’re making the effort to relate and create a shared moment. If you know your audience at least somewhat, then you know enough about them to choose examples, details, and language that they’ll connect with as well. For example, let’s say your speech topic is to research and discuss an interesting person or event. You’ll want to choose someone or something that your audience can relate to, right? Well, if your audience is mostly traditional college students, you (and they) will probably like – or at least share knowledge of – the same newsworthy public figures, the latest celebrity crush, the newest trends, or the hottest new artists. Because of your age and your similar cultural interests, you can create some shared meaning by referencing someone or something your audience will typically relate to. It won’t be hard for them to relate to you or your speech topic if they already have some interest or understanding of your cultural references.

Denotative vs. Connotative

So, sharing common experiences and knowledge definitely helps you relate. But you’ll also need to be aware that words often have more than one meaning, and not everyone in your audience will necessarily have the same definition for – or reaction to – the words you’re using. One of the issues we need to look at is the difference between the denotative and connotative meaning of words. The denotative meaning of a word is typically the dictionary meaning of the word, or the commonly accepted meaning for most people. The connotative meaning, though, is a bit more complicated. The connotative meaning can include slang, idioms, and your own personalized version of the word. For instance, let’s look at the word “pig.” When I hear that word, my first thought is probably a farm animal that provides bacon and pork chops – the dictionary meaning. But the word “pig” can have more than one meaning for some listeners, depending on the context in which the word is used and the past experiences of the listener.

Sometimes the meanings of words are difficult to pin down because they've acquired other meanings. [4]​

Typically, the connotative meaning of a word has more of an emotional association and is more likely to trigger an emotional response than the denotative meaning. Anyone who was a young adult in the politically charged decades of the 1960’s and 70’s might remember a time when the word “pig” was used as a derogatory term to refer to a police officer. Most of you weren’t born during that time, but protesters used that word vehemently, and with great disdain. In that context, calling someone a “pig” was so much more than a reference to a farm animal. It was a derogatory term meant to convey disrespect and distrust. Hearing that word again might immediately take a person who grew up in that era right back to the emotions and upheaval of that time.

Most of us know which meaning is being used because we know the context – the location, the occasion, and the prior conversations that took place. But what if one of your friends has recently moved here from Bosnia? Will they understand the implied difference? Most people who are learning a new language or adapting to a new culture tend to take things literally. You say pig – they think farm. You’d probably have to explain the difference to them until they “get” it. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.01.

Without that shared context, the meaning is lost. And while it might be funny in the moment, not understanding the words that are coming out of our mouths leads to major processing errors.

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Cultural Frame of Reference

Common cultural frames of reference make a big difference. Make sure to take them into consideration when preparing your speech. [5]​

Students new to the language or to the culture may also lack a common cultural frame of reference. If you think about it, in order for you to fully understand a play on words, a joke that’s being told, a story that’s being shared, or even directions, you have to understand the references that the speaker uses. If you’ve always lived in a small town in a rural area, a visit to New York City might be exciting, but it could also be overwhelming. Asking directions from the New Yorkers that you encounter might seem logical, but if you don’t know the landmarks that are used to provide the directions, the references are useless to you. 

When people don’t share a similar culture, or don’t come from a common background, it can be difficult to communicate; their life experiences have been different, and they have little in common. Your childhood may have little resemblance to the childhood of someone from a war-torn country. While you may recall trips to the fair and birthday parties, these pastimes may be foreign to them (no pun intended). Your childhood was, hopefully, safe and protected; theirs was full of danger and constant anxiety. Naturally, it would be difficult for either of you to completely understand the other’s view of life. It may be that your only chance to truly get to know that person is through conversation, by sharing your experiences through language. The use of language to connect is a wonderful reminder of the power of our words.

Powerful vs. Inflammatory Language

Language can be a powerful tool. You can create memories with language, make new friends, and communicate what you feel. Words are the number one tool of a public speaker. When you’re giving a persuasive speech, you’ll want to stir emotions and create passion in your listeners. You want them to be so moved by your words that they’ll take action – they’ll do whatever you’re asking of them, whether that’s donating blood, recycling, or volunteering. The language that you employ, and the words that you choose, will go a long way towards that goal. That’s why it’s so important to think about the words that you’ll use. Giving a great speech requires some forethought if you want a successful end result. Just as asking for a raise requires some planning, so too does your speech. Don’t choose the first words that come to mind; choose the ones that really connect and send the message you want your listeners to hear.

Think back to the scenario at the beginning of the chapter. The words chosen by the protesters were probably chosen to draw attention to their cause. Their words were also probably chosen to create fear and anger. Is that powerful language? Yes, but it goes beyond powerful to inflammatory, and that’s really not the same thing. The goal of inflammatory language is typically to stir up emotion, to anger people, and sometimes, to push them to violence. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.02.

Ever watched a riot on TV or in the movies? Moving from a peaceful protest to a riot doesn’t take much. Sometimes it only takes one or two people in the crowd yelling threats to create chaos. An example of this occurred in Ferguson, Missouri, in 2014, when riots broke out across the country following the shooting death of Michael Brown, an unarmed man shot by police. This news clip gives us a perfect example of inflammatory language and its possible effect. 

Language is power. Use your power wisely. [6]​

The stepfather’s words in the clip inflamed the protestors. Did his words cause the protesters to burn much of the town? We can’t know for sure, but those few angry words may have been what pushed the protesters from outrage to mayhem. That’s not where we want to go as public speakers. Yes, we want you to choose powerful images and words that will make your speech stronger, memorable, and persuasive. You want the power of your words and the strength of your convictions to be the persuasive factors that convince your listeners to believe as you do and to act accordingly. But always remember that the words you choose determine whether you use your power as a speaker for good – or evil. Remember you have an ethical obligation to uphold as a speaker.

Demographics

What do we mean when we say your language should be appropriate for your audience? Remember our discussion of audience analysis and adaptation in Chapter 7? It’s important to know as much as you can about your audience and demographics can help you with your analysis. Demographic information typically includes information like the average age of your listeners, the level of education they might have, their political affiliations, and how much money they make. We use demographics in our society quite often. The U.S. Census, done every ten years, is one of the largest collectors of this type of information. The census is designed to figure out exactly who lives in the country – race, age, household composition, religious preferences, income, and ethnicity. City, state, and national governments all use this kind of knowledge for planning. Studying demographics allows them to look ahead to determine where new schools will be needed, what services might need to be increased, etc. Want to find out more about the census? You can check it out here.


Q14.04

Demographic information about your audience might include:

A

Age of listeners

B

Education level of your listeners

C

Ethnicity of your listeners

D

All of the above


So you’re probably wondering how you’d use demographics as you prepare your speech. You already know from Chapter 7 that knowing your audience is a must. The more you know, the better you can choose your examples – and your words – to appeal to them. But you also need to pay attention to the actual demographics of your class to avoid making some mistakes in your speech. Let’s look at three examples of the demographics that impact your word selection: age, education, and culture.

Age

Take the makeup of your class into consideration while preparing your speech. [7]​

Your audience for each speech will most likely be your classmates. Take a look around your classroom. Who’s enrolled? Well, as far as age is concerned, the average, traditional college student would probably be between the ages of 18-24. But you have to pay attention. Do you have students who don’t fit that age range in your classrooms? Probably. What about older students who have returned to school after being in the workforce for a while? Military veterans just starting their college careers might also be a part of your audience. And don't forget those high school students who are dual-enrolled – taking college classes while in high school. So when you’re preparing a speech, you’ll want to take age into account.

How would your topic, language, and word choice differ if you were speaking to a group of retirees versus a class of fifth graders? Obviously, you’d need to use simpler terms with your fifth grade audience. A huge vocabulary and technical terms would go straight over their heads. On the other hand, the seniors would have different interests and concerns, so your topics – and your language – should reflect that. The senior citizens would probably be better equipped to understand complex concepts. Thus, your language needs to fit the age group you’ll be speaking to. 


Q14.05

Imagine you’re giving a speech on the benefits of knowing basic first aid to a fifth grade class. How might you adjust your word choice for them? (Can select multiple answers)

A

No need to adjust – just use the vocabulary you’d normally use for adults

B

Really dilute the message – they’re too young to get it anyway

C

Use simple words rather than adult vocabulary

D

Explain new and unfamiliar terms


Education

What about the education level of your group? Highly educated listeners would understand – and appreciate – a larger vocabulary. They’d know the subtle differences between the words “sweating” and “perspiring.” They’d get your humor, your puns, and your cultural references much more than the kids. They’d expect more from you, too. The words you’d choose would be listened to and closely evaluated. Your arguments and your logic would be critiqued, so you’d want to ensure that your words were sharp, engaging, and chosen specifically for an educated listener. But keep in mind that because someone is “educated” doesn’t mean that you can assume they’ll already know and understand all of the terms and concepts you may be discussing. It’s still important to either gauge how much they know of your subject in the beginning or to define terms and new vocabulary as you go.

Culture

Cultural differences need to be considered as you speak. You’d want to choose inclusive language and take care to acknowledge cultural diversity. Remember, your listeners from different backgrounds and cultures may not understand the connotative meaning of a word, so strive to be clear. Avoid slang and jargon (which we’ll discuss later) because these types of communication can lead to misunderstanding. You’d also need to ensure that your examples and your words will connect to as many of your audience members as possible. For example, if you wanted to give a presentation on the importance of celebrating special days and events in our lives, you’d need to keep in mind that acknowledged holidays vary by country, culture, and religion. Not everyone celebrates Christmas or Thanksgiving. Did you know that some groups and religions don’t celebrate their birthdays? And keep in mind that only Americans celebrate the 4th of July.

Your speech would need to be broad enough to include multiple cultures so that you could appeal to as many of your listeners as possible. Simply acknowledging that these are your favorite holidays and that you realize not everyone celebrates the same would also be appropriate. And, of course, you’d want to avoid coming across as ethnocentric – believing your culture to be superior to all others. A speech on why America is the greatest country might not go over well with your classmates who hail from other countries. Let your topics, your examples, and your words show awareness and cultural sensitivity. We’ll be discussing the impact of culture more in the next chapter.

Time/Place

Finally, let’s talk about how time and place can affect the appropriateness of your words and your language usage. Have you ever heard the saying, “There’s a time and place for everything?” Let’s discuss how that belief might influence your word choice as a public speaker. Public speaking takes place in a variety of settings – classrooms, churches, business meetings, etc. Your audience will probably have certain expectations about what is appropriate based on the location and occasion.

The words you use in a speech in your classroom might differ from those you’d choose to use in a business meeting. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.03.

 For example, some speaking occasions are traditionally somber. Giving a eulogy at a funeral would require you to speak differently than if you were giving a toast at a wedding, right? Your audience would, in a way, mandate your word choice, your tone, and your delivery style. Straying too far from what your audience considers appropriate would probably confuse and even alienate some of your listeners, which is never your goal as a speaker.

Language Traps: What to Avoid

Some common language mistakes need to be avoided if you want to be an effective public speaker. Surprisingly, many of these mistakes are routinely used by public speakers who don’t seem to realize the impact these “traps” can have on their ability to communicate well.

Slang

While language is intended to create a standardized, common speech that all members of society can understand, it is also unique, creative, and full of idiosyncrasies. The use of language as creative expression is easily understood in children who often create their own languages “for the fun of it.” Anyone remember “Pig Latin?” However, the need to be different and separate doesn’t disappear as we grow up. If you’re a Star Trek fan, then you wouldn’t bat an eye if someone said, “I speak Klingon.” Likewise, many readers of J. R. R. Tolkien’s books are fascinated by the elf language he invented known as Elvish. There’s an interesting article on Time.com that investigates the human need to create language. You can read it yourself here.

Thanks to the wide variety of social media platforms, language is changing rapidly in many different ways, and differs from platform to platform. [8]​

So you say to yourself, “I wouldn’t create a new language. That’s weird.” But, honestly, most of us already speak a language foreign to others every day when we use Facebook, Twitter, or text our friends. Think about how often you use slang. Honestly, I’ll bet you use it so much, you might not be clear on what’s slang and what’s considered standard English; to many of you, slang is the standard. Here’s another interesting article about how language seems to keep evolving and how the millennial generation is leading the way. 

Slang (and I think it’s safe to put hashtags and text speak in this category as well) might be best described as a specialized language whose primary purpose is to keep talk private and to create shortcuts for communication. The problem is that only insiders know enough of the language to successfully encode or decode the message. Slang typically becomes important during the teen and pre-teen years. You mean a language my parents can’t understand exists? Count me in!

While you may feel comfortable speaking to your friends or coworkers using the latest “code words,” it is important for you as a public speaker to limit your use of these abbreviated, and often unfamiliar, terms when you present. 

While you may have an informal style or topic, remember that not all members of your audience are privy to the meaning behind the words. Certainly, some slang terms have become so commonplace that they have now become a part of the mainstream culture. Most people nowadays know what a blog is or that “my bad” is an apology. But these terms come and go quickly. While just about everyone probably knows what a “BFF” is, how many people are still using that term on a regular basis? It has already been pushed aside for something new – that’s the nature of creative expression. There is always something new around the corner. So rather than taking the chance that everyone in your audience is familiar with the words and phrases you’re using, play it safe. Skip the slang when you present.


Q14.06

It’s okay to use slang in your speech – if you’re sure most people in your audience will understand it.

A

True

B

False


Jargon

Jargon is similar to slang. Jargon is the use of a specialized language that only certain groups typically use and understand. However, jargon is usually used in workplace settings rather than general use by all members of the public. The first example of jargon would be the language used by medical personnel. Here’s a funny, short rap about medical terms to set the stage:

Understandably, nurses, doctors, EMTs, paramedics and other medical workers have their own abbreviations and codes. While some of us watch all of the latest medical dramas on television, most of us still know very little of the lingo. My knowledge of these codes is limited to STAT and GSW to the chest. So I’d only know what was happening if you said, “Hurry, he has a gunshot wound to his chest,” and even then I wouldn’t be any help! Fortunately, using these codes in a medical setting creates very little misunderstanding because everyone in this setting has been trained to understand the lingo.

Don't use language that is foreign to your audience without explaining it. [9]

Another example is the language used by those who serve in the armed forces. Having served myself – many years ago – I can tell you there is a code or acronym for everything! At first it was a foreign language until I eventually learned the lingo. I can’t imagine trying to help someone find their way on a military base if they had no knowledge of basic military abbreviations. Turn left at PSD (admin. building), until you see the NEX (shopping plaza), then straight through the light until you see the BEQ (enlisted housing). And that’s just directions! Can you imagine the knowledge you’d need to train and work in this setting? But, again, people who work for this organization are trained to understand these terms.

So what happens when you have some familiarity with a particular jargon and decide to use in in a speech? Blank faces happen. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.04.

Odds are most of your listeners will not understand the acronyms, codes, and terms you’d use. That makes your speech useless. What’s the point of impressing us with your knowledge of this “language” if it’s confusing and separates us? Don’t use jargon. And if you must, limit the terms you use to one or two and make sure you define them for us.

Mispronunciations

Nothing will lessen your credibility quicker than mispronouncing the words you use in your speech. It’s important that you know how to pronounce the names, places, and words you’ll use as you present. I literally cringe every time I hear a word being mispronounced in a speech – especially if it’s a commonly used word that your average listener would understand. And when you can’t pronounce the name of the person you chose to discuss, it makes me crazy! At this point, there’s absolutely no reason to have mispronunciations in your presentation. First, if you can’t figure out how to pronounce a name or a word, don’t use it. Find another word that works instead. But this isn’t even necessary these days. There is so much technology to help you.

Given how easy the internet makes it to find the correct pronunciations of words, there is no excuse for mispronunciation. [10]​

In the “old” days, we had to direct our attention to a printed dictionary the size of a small child and decipher the hieroglyphics [heye-ruh-glif-iks] written beside the word to figure out the pronunciation. Those “hieroglyphics” told us where the syllables in the word were and which syllable received the most emphasis when spoken aloud – in other words, how to say the word. I can tell you, those were dark days.

You guys are lucky! Now online dictionaries will pronounce the word for you! Some sites like www. pronounceitright.com will even help you pronounce famous names, foreign names, and celebrity names. Do you know the proper pronunciation for Jack Kevorkian, Mikhail Gorbachev, or Jimmy Garoppolo? Gone are the days of giving it your best guess. Look it up, pronounce it correctly, and see your credibility soar! 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.05.

Q14.07

Mispronouncing words during your speech causes your credibility to:

A

Take a nosedive

B

Stay the same – most people don’t know the correct pronunciation either

C

Soar – I'm good at faking it

D

Stay about the same – it’s not that big of a deal


Profanity

If you are someone who chooses to add a little “spice” to your language in the form of profanity, we’re going to advise you to clean up your speech – at least while you’re presenting. The use of cursing, swear words, or profanity – no matter what you call it – is prevalent in our society today. While many in your audience might not be offended by a curse word here or there, some might be shocked, angered, and generally unimpressed with your word choice. So what’s the big deal? Let’s break it down. First, you never want to offend anyone in your audience knowingly – especially if you want to create a common bond, earn some goodwill, and persuade your audience to hear and act in response to your message. Additionally, some members of your audience may find your use of profanity in your speech simple proof that you have a limited vocabulary. You want to always appear knowledgeable and well-informed – and that’s not just as a public speaker. Those are lifetime goals, my friends. This is where word choice becomes so important. Think about the message you want to share, research it, and then choose appropriate words to relay that message. Take a little extra time to choose wisely. Remember when we talked about the encoding process as you asked for a raise? That’s an important moment. Give as much care to your word choice when prepping for your speech – that’s another important moment.

Over-the-Top Vocabulary

Okay, so we just told you that profanity is a sign that you potentially lack a full vocabulary, right? We want you to have a well-endowed vocabulary and to understand how even slight variations can change the meaning of a word. But we don’t want you to use big words just to impress us. A study conducted by Princeton University actually found that using big words can backfire and make you seem less intelligent. Wow! Something to consider! You can find the article here.

Some speakers mistakenly believe that using huge words with multiple syllables increases their credibility. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.06.

The authors of this textbook had this same concern in mind when we chose to write these chapters for you. Rather than use lots of academic, little-known words with lots of syllables, we chose to keep our language simple, down-to-earth, and reader friendly. At least that’s our hope. Communicating clearly and being understood is always more important than impressing others. Because what happens when your audience doesn’t know the big words you’re using? They often stop listening – or, in our case, they stop reading or skip over the point being made. Wouldn’t it be better to use a simple, precise word that most people understand rather than an impressive, over-the-top word that only a few understand? Your number one goal as a speaker is to be understood – that’s the bottom line!


Q14.08

It’s better to use big words to impress my audience – even if they don’t always understand me.

A

True

B

False


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Now You’re Talking; What to Include

So we’ve talked about what to avoid. Now let’s talk about the language we want you to include in your speeches. Remember, we discussed some of this earlier in Chapter 9. We want you to be clear, so concrete words are a must. We want you to be descriptive, so imagery is needed. We want you to emphasize key words and terms, so a bit of repetition can be helpful. And finally, we’ll discuss why you absolutely must use inclusive language that makes all listeners feel included and respected. Let’s start with concrete words.

Concrete Words

As a speaker, it’s important that you use concrete words in your speech. So what are concrete words? Concrete words are specific words – typically nouns – that your audience can easily identify with. Here’s an example: if I told you I had food for breakfast today, you’d probably immediately ask, “What kind?” because you and I both know there are dozens of yummy food choices to make when choosing breakfast. Did I have pancakes, muffins, or eggs?

So rather than simply saying I had “food,” I tell you I had eggs. Just switching out that one word makes a world of difference. Don’t use a vague word when you can use a concrete one. Need another example? I tell you I have a pet – vague. What kind of pet is it? Is it a dog, cat, iguana, boa constrictor? Now I tell you I have a dog. That’s better but still vague. What if I tell you I have a golden retriever who’s about four years old? Now we’re getting a bit more concrete. But how does my retriever differ from all the others? What if I said he’s about 70 pounds, has a tuft of white fur down the front, and wears a red collar? Can you visualize him a bit better now? So in a speech about your pet, we’re going to be more engaged and better able to picture what you’re talking about if you give us concrete words rather than vague ones. We’ve gone from a speech about my pet to a speech about my golden retriever who wears a red collar. Now we’re getting somewhere! I like the clip below because it does a good job of explaining concrete words with some fun examples. 


Imagery

So concrete words – instead of vague, abstract ones – really give us more details. These types of words help us “see” the people, places, and, in the example above, the animals in your speech. We’re a visual society, and we live in a culture where Technicolor, 3D, and IMAX movie screens are the norm. We're used to seeing elaborate car crashes on the big screen – explosions, cars flipping, and sparks flying! That means, as a speaker, you have your work cut out for you. You have an audience of visually “spoiled” listeners – no offense, guys. That’s where imagery comes in. It’s your job to choose words and language that helps your listeners to visualize the events and people in your speech; so as you speak, they have a mental picture in their heads. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.07.

They can see your funny little dog, or your trip to the desert, or your grandpa’s old ’57 Chevy you’re restoring because your words paint a picture for them. You tell us how your dog sits on his hind legs begging with his head tilted to the left, tongue out. We can almost see your dog now.

Metaphors, similes, personification, and hyperbole are all tools designed to help you create images in your listener’s head. You might remember some of these from your composition classes. These aren’t just tools for writers; speakers use them, too. I want to briefly discuss a couple of these: metaphors and similes. If you can remember back to English 101, these were your comparison tools. Similes are the easiest to remember; they always use the words like or as in the comparison. By the time I found him, my dog was a mess of matted fur, and worse, he smelled like a potent blend of blue cheese, motor oil, and skunk! Isn’t that better than telling your listeners that your lost dog smelled awful when you got him back?

Metaphors also contain a comparison, but they’re a bit more subtle. Metaphors compare things that don’t seem related or don’t seem to have anything in common. Here are a couple of examples: the assignment was a breeze. Okay, so not literally, but you get it; the assignment was easy because for some reason we think it’s not hard to create a breeze. Hmmm. Or my brother is the black sheep of the family. Again, not literally, but we all know the term, black sheep, right? Though, why would we think the black sheep are always the ones getting in trouble? Hey, I didn’t say metaphors always made sense, but they do help us use language to get our point across. So while we discourage you from using profanity to “spice up” your language, we’re all for you using imagery to enrich it instead.

Repetition

One of the most famous examples of a speech using repetition is Dr. Martin Luther King’s speech, I Have a Dream. Why did King use repetition? Did he simply want to make his speech run longer? No. Did he stutter? Absolutely not. No, Dr. King used repetition to draw his listeners in and to reiterate his main point, his dream that one day the world would be a better place for all citizens. It’s brilliant. The line is hopeful, strong, and persuasive. His use of repetition worked so well that it would probably be difficult to find someone – at least in America – that didn’t immediately identify that famous, repeated line with Dr. King and his speech. If you want to read the full speech, here’s a copy.

Would you be surprised to learn that your use of repetition could ensure that your audience would remember your speech as well? One of the many reasons we ask you to provide an introduction and a conclusion with the body of your speech is because we know that your listeners will have three opportunities to hear the main ideas of your speech. After three times, they’re bound to remember something you’ve said! The more we hear something, the more we remember it. If you’re giving a speech about the importance of volunteering, you might tell us in different parts of your speech that, “You can make a difference.” Keep in mind, though, that whatever word or phrase you’re repeating needs to be important – not just a random line you chose. It needs to be significant in some way. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.08.

One last thought: if you don’t believe repetition works, think about advertising jingles. The product name is repeated throughout. Add in a snappy tune, and we’re humming along. Now this one is from a long time ago, but I’ll bet if you click on the link, you’ll have “Libby’s, Libby’s, Libby’s” stuck in your head much longer than you’d like. Sorry, but it is effective.



Q14.09

Which of the following tools will enrich your language and paint a mental picture in the minds of your listeners as you speak?

A

Imagery

B

Repetition

C

Metaphors and similes

D

a) and c)


Inclusive and Respectful Language

I imagine that you’ve been taught since kindergarten to be respectful when you speak to – or about – others. My first grade teacher, Mrs. Monroe, had a list of respectful rules:

  • Be kind.
  • No name-calling.
  • Don’t make others cry.

It was a pretty straightforward list. These early lessons from Mrs. Monroe are still true today. We hope that you’ve found college to be a place where you can thrive – where you’re continuing to learn how to balance freedom of speech without name calling; where you can have an opinion, yet allow others to have different, opposing opinions; where you can go about your daily routine without being unkind.

There’s an interesting article from campusreform.org that discusses how the University of Maryland spent $15,000 on a campaign they called “Words Have Power.” The campaign worked to encourage civility on campus and to make students aware of insensitive language. Here’s the article. Removing insensitive and hurtful language from our speech is critical in all aspects of life. We’ve already discussed that one of your goals as a speaker is to connect with your audience. You certainly won’t be able to do that if you are disrespectful or insensitive. You want all of your listeners to feel included and in order to do that, you have to be aware of all the ways that you can unintentionally offend your audience. 

Click here to see the script for Video 14.09.

Click here to see the script for Video 14.10.

Gender-neutral Words

A lot of language has certainly changed since I was a child. Let me give you a couple of examples. When I was a child, there were firemen and policemen and “bag boys” – what we called the young men who bagged groceries in southern grocery stores. Those words worked because only young men held those jobs. Of course now, men and women of all ages are employed in these jobs, so new words were actually created such as firefighters and police officers and the generic, bagger. Some of you have probably never realized that those gender-neutral words haven’t always existed. It was quite fascinating to slowly see society change so much that our language had to evolve with it. 

Q14.10

Which term could you use to replace the word, “mankind” in order to be more gender-neutral?

A

Human beings

B

Humankind

C

Neither of these

D

Both of these


For the most part, gender-neutral words are now the norm. One last holdout was the mandated practice of using the masculine term, he, when referring to any person – male or female - in formal writing. Over time it was decided that in order to avoid this last remaining sexist identifier, writers should use both the masculine and the feminine reference – he or she, his or her. What was acceptable was slowly changing. This is an example of language in transition.

Now, the rules have changed yet again. Many organizations have adopted the use of the words "they," "them," or "theirs" as acceptable in both the plural and singular form. The Washington Post declared in 2015 that they were onboard with this usage. In fact, the 2016 word of the year according to the American Dialect Society is “they” – for both plural and singular use. The authors of this text decided that we would join in and simplify life by using the singular, they and them, in our writing of this book. Here’s the article if you want to take a look at the word of the year.

Respectful Group Terminology

So words change as our society changes. The same is true of groups and acceptable ways to refer to groups. We’re a society of groups. Your first group was probably your family – and what a crazy group that might be! Your first classroom might be another first group you encountered. The first time you joined a team, you found another group. Groups are, therefore, people who join together – or are joined together – because they have something in common. In fact, we seem obsessed with putting people into groups. We group people according to religion, sex, gender, ethnicity, and on and on. The issue here is that putting labels on groups is problematic – and often offensive. Also, what is considered “politically correct” seems to be constantly changing. The best thing you can do is to be aware, be sensitive, and honestly, use the terms group members prefer – what they would call themselves. So, let’s look at a few groups to ensure that you know and use appropriate terms when addressing individuals from these groups or giving a public presentation.

Gay or Lesbian

GLAAD (formerly the Gay & Lesbian Alliance Against Defamation), has compiled a list of commonly used offensive terms, as well as better options for each. I’ll give you a few examples:

Do your research. Use the preferred terms. [11]​


  • Use gay or lesbian instead of homosexual.
  • Use sexual orientation instead of sexual preference.
  • Use equal rights instead of special rights.






And why label anything if it’s not needed? It’s a relationship – you don’t have to say they’re in a “gay relationship.” It’s a marriage – not a “gay marriage.” See the entire list here.

American Indian or Native American

One group that goes way back are the indigenous people of the Americas. We’ve called these groups different names over time, but now most tribes agree that the terms, American Indian or Native American are most acceptable. Or better yet, according to Learnnc.org, Native Americans prefer to be called by the name of their individual tribe, such as Cherokee. It is also acceptable to use the term indigenous peoples. Of course, there’s been a lot of news lately about the use of the term, “redskin,” especially in regards to the football team, the Washington Redskins. This controversy also affects numerous high school teams currently using the name. You’re sure to hear more as courts rule on this issue. Here’s an interesting article with the reminder that these indigenous people are so much more than mascots. 

Transgender People

One last group to discuss in this section is individuals who identify as transgender. According to GLAAD, transgender is “a term used to describe people whose gender identity differs from the sex the doctor marked on their birth certificate.” Acceptable terms are:

Better to be safe than sorry. If you are unsure what terms to use, even after looking them up, ask. [12]


  • Transgendered
  • Transsexual
  • Genderqueer


Also, please note that transgender is an adjective – not a noun. If you are unsure of the proper pronoun to use when referring to a transgender person, don’t be afraid to ask. Your consideration will be appreciated. Research so you know about the groups you’ll be addressing or discussing. Knowledge keeps you current and aware. Here are a few facts that you may not have known about transgender people from GLAAD:

  • 40% report attempting suicide 
  • 90% report experiencing harassment
  • 30% of transgender people report being fired, denied a promotion, or experienced mistreatment in the workplace due to their gender identity in the past 12 months 

To learn more, please go to www.glaad.org/transgender/transfaq.

The bottom line? Be respectful and appropriate whenever you speak about any group of people. It only takes a little awareness on your part to avoid insensitive and hurtful language.

Written vs. Spoken Word

We started this chapter with a quote from Maya Angelou. Let me refresh your memory and give it to you here again:

“Words mean more than what is set down on paper. It takes the human voice to infuse them with shades of deeper meaning.”

This quote has some words of wisdom for the public speaker, and I want to end this chapter discussing how the words you speak in a speech differ from the words in a written source – an essay, a book, a poem, etc. You will plan some of your speech on paper – you’ll create an outline that organizes your ideas and your research. You may even write out some speaking notes. It’s very important that you understand that we often write differently than we speak – with good reason. Here’s what I’ve found: we tend to write more formally than we actually speak. Maybe it’s all those years of writing term papers, of being told that we need to write with more maturity, to expand our vocabulary, or to provide greater depth and analysis. For whatever reason, reading something you’ve written almost never comes across as engaging and as natural as you intended. James A. Winans, the chair of Cornell's Department of Oratory and Debate in the 1900’s, once said, "A speech is not an essay on its hind legs." Don’t write an essay and then expect it to become a speech!

What’s your first response when someone in a meeting or classroom begins reading to you directly from the page? It’s usually the kiss of death, right? Unless the reader has taken a lot of time practicing the speech, inserting a conversational tone, remembering to look up and engage the listener, you can almost always tell when something is being read – and the outcome is rarely good. Here are a few ways that the spoken word differs from the written:

  • We tend to use shorter words when we speak
  • We tend to use more contractions when we speak
  • We tend to use more pronouns when we speak
  • We tend to refer to people and relationships more when we speak

When you speak – rather than read – to us, you sound spontaneous and natural. I tell my students that I would rather have some umm’s and uh’s and a couple of awkward pauses than to hear a speech read without a single mistake – especially if the reader’s voice is stiff, robotic, and over-rehearsed. Public speaking is about so much more than transmitting facts. It’s about engaging your listeners, creating a relationship – albeit a brief one – with them for the few moments you have their attention. It’s about letting your personality shine through. You can’t do that if you don’t sound like you.


Q14.11

Written and oral style are the same.

A

True

B

False


Summary

So now you know how language works. We encode and decode messages, hoping each time that we’re getting the message as it was intended. If we do run into communication obstacles, it is likely because we have misinterpreted, misunderstood, or failed to correctly “break the code.” Sharing meaning and ensuring that our words are understood requires a shared context and cultural frame of reference. Never underestimate the power of language. Use that power responsibly. But please do not confuse powerful language with inflammatory language. Be bold, but prudent. Encourage, motivate, and admonish us, but never allow your words to inspire violence. Let’s remember to use appropriate words in each public setting we find ourselves in, taking into account the age, education, and cultural background of our listeners. If you manage to avoid some of the language traps laid out in this chapter and focus on using precise, inclusive, and imaginative language, you’ll earn our applause – and our respect.


End of Chapter Checklist

After reading this chapter, you should be able to say to yourself: 

  • I can identify how we use language to communicate.
  • I understand why miscommunication occurs between speaker and listener.
  • I can distinguish between connotative and denotative word meanings.

  • I have tapped into the power of language!
  • I can choose appropriate language based upon time/place and audience expectations.
  • I know how to use inclusive language.
  • I am able to avoid language traps such as slang, jargon, and inflammatory language.
  • I understand how the spoken word differs from the written.
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Video Scripts

Video 14.01

I’m here today to give you some pointers about buying a used car. To start, let me share a story with you about my car buying experience. My cousin, Brian, and I decide to hit the used car lot last Saturday. I’m looking for a car that doesn’t cost an arm and a leg, you know, but immediately the salesman shows me a used Mustang for $2000 more than I have to spend. This is a sweet ride, and I figure when it comes to how I can afford this beauty, I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it. For now, I’m in love. Brian is being a pain; he keeps playing the devil’s advocate the whole time, telling me that this is a far cry from the car I came looking for – an older sedan – and how I’d be a fool to buy it. But I don't listen. But, boy, I should have.

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.02

Before revealing the person I’ll be discussing today, let me start with a quote from him. "Knock the crap out of them, would you? Seriously. OK? Just knock the hell -- I promise you, I will pay for the legal fees. I promise, I promise." If you don’t recognize the quote, it was said by Donald Trump about a protester at one of his rallies. Are these the words of a future President simply spouting what the people want to hear? Or should he be held accountable for this kind of language? For inciting violence? Today you’ll hear my views on the subject.

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.03

Yo, like, today I want to talk about investing. Putting your money where your mouth is so to speak. Investing is your chance to put a little away for a rainy day. Most people don’t have the moola to last much longer than a month without a paycheck. Crazy, right? But you’ve got to think long-term. You’ve got to plan for those golden years. You’ve got to make bank if you know what I mean. Investing in some solid stocks can make that happen. But you’ve got to totally check it out before you give up your cold hard cash. Make sure you have the skinny on your potential investments, or you could lose it all. 

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.04

When you are looking to replace your motherboard, you need to first make sure that your board is compatible with your CPU and your current processor. For example, if you have one of AMD’s recent APUs, you’ll want to buy a socket FM2+ motherboard. Conduct a Google search for your specific processor’s socket type, then look for motherboards built around that socket. Most cases are designed for ATX form factor motherboards, but some can fit smaller mATX motherboards, and yet others can fit even smaller ITX motherboards.

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.05

V-lad-mar Put-tin is the current President of Russia. Put-tin was formerly a KGB officer for 16 years before entering politics. Put-tin was also Prime Miniser from 2008 to 2012. Amazingly, V-lad-mar has been President of Russia before but couldn’t rule for a third term due to term limits. But when this law was recently changed, Put-tin decided to run again. 

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.06

Teddy Roosevelt was born with a debilitating condition – a chronic pulmonary disease. But he was able to overcome the malaise of his adolescent years to become the robust epitome of health. He was known as a charismatic individual with a resonant voice and an exuberant personality. He was larger than life. He was a Rough Rider and a cowboy – the ultimate persona of masculinity and virility. 

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.07

Imagine yourself walking along a beach, just inches away from the surf. Can you feel the breeze gently cooling your skin? Feel the warmth of the sun as it caresses your shoulders, the slight crunch you hear as your foot settles in the wet sand. The occasional splash of soothing waves as they roll ashore. Everywhere you look, you see blue. Sea blue ocean and sky – as far as the eye can see. And the smells. Breathe in. You smell the faint scent of coconut lotion, a distant barbecue, and just an occasional whiff of the flowers blooming feet away. Is this a dream? No, my friends, this is Hawaii.

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.08

We all want to make the world a better place, don’t we? But the question is, “What can one person really do?” One person can stand up for someone being bullied. One person can feed a homeless individual. One person can make life easier for an elderly neighbor. One person can dry a child’s tears. One person can listen when no one else will. Alone, one person can only do so much. But together, each of us, one person at a time, can change the world. Become a volunteer and be that one person who makes a difference.

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.09

My speech today is entitled High School: The Wonder Years. The farther I am from my high school years, the more I realize what a special time that really was. I was fortunate enough to be a star athlete, not a band geek, thank God, because I learned so much more about life from football than a nerd ever would. I learned about team work and playing your heart out. Don’t get me wrong, I’m sure the brainiacs are successful, too, but sports is the way to go. I was a decent student. I’m not saying I was a nerd, but I studied when I needed to. 

Click here to return to video. 


Video 14.10

My speech today is entitled High School: The Wonder Years. The farther I am from my high school years, the more I realize what a special time that really was. Where else will you find yourself with so many amazingly different people all sharing the same experience? I love that success wasn’t limited to a few. We could all be successful – even if we took different paths. I marveled at the talent of those in the marching band. I was in awe of the devotion the athletes had to their sport. And I was envious – just a bit – of the kids with all the answers – so smart, so capable.

Click here to return to video. 


Image Credits

[1] Image courtesy of Robert Knudsen in the Public Domain.

[2] Image courtesy of John Bloom under CC BY-SA 3.0.

[3] Image courtesy of cherylholt in the Public Domain.

[4] Image courtesy of Petr Kratochvil in the Public Domain.

[5] Image courtesy of downtownberkeley under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[6] Image courtesy of Jamelle Bouie under CC BY 2.0.

[7] Image courtesy of europedistrict under CC BY 2.0.

[8] Image courtesy of Ibrahim.ID under CC BY-SA 4.0.

[9] Image courtesy of Senior Airman Lausanne Morgan in the Public Domain.

[10] Image courtesy of PDPics in the Public Domain.

[11] Image courtesy of Benson Kua under CC BY-SA 2.0.

[12] Image courtesy of Dlloyd in the Public Domain.

Channel - noun
The means by which the message is being sent or delivered.
Denotative Meaning
Commonly accepted meaning of a word, the dictionary definition.
Connotative Meaning
A more personalized definition of a word often including slang and idioms.
Frame of Reference
The context in which an audience can relate to, recall, or understand your topic, your examples, or your experiences.
Inflammatory Language
Language used to stir emotions, to incite anger, to create fear and, often, violence.
Inclusive/Gender-neutral Language
Language that avoids the use of certain expressions or words that might be considered to exclude particular groups of people.
Slang - noun
Specialized language whose primary purpose is to keep talk private and to create shortcuts for communication.
Jargon - noun
Specialized language for the workplace that is used and understood by a select group.
Over-the-top Language
Using words that the average listener may not understand in order to impress the audience.
Concrete Words
Choosing words, typically nouns, that provide specific details rather than those that are vague and ambiguous.
Imagery
Using language that is visually descriptive in order to appeal to the listener’s physical senses.