Friday, October 30, 2015

Questions About Relevance?

Good writing and speaking is always done with an audience and a purpose in mind. In order to make your speech really strong, you need to accomplish your purpose. However, not all audiences are as easy to convince depending on their positions, their points-of-view, their attitude towards the topic, their biases, etc. People's behaviors (including listening) are impacted by their beliefs, attitudes and values. Even more, we all have filters (gender, age, political affiliation, socio-economic background, birth-0rder) that impact how we view the world.

We must understand and use this knowledge to help us communicate our ideas with those who differ from us. Audience analysis and the relevance statements that these cause us to consider, are vitally important tools in communication.

Relevance allows the writer/speaker to tailor communication for a specific audience. It's one of the most important ideas behind writing a great speech.

When we learned relevance in class, I had you toss an imaginary lasso around different sections of the audience. Remember? That is an example of what you should accomplish with good relevance. The relevance that you give should really LASSO that group in the audience to care about the topic. But it doesn't happen without you as a speaker. You must consider what it will take to capture/lasso their attention. Tell them why this topic is important to them. Tell them how this impacts their life. It's really easier than it seems. It requires you to think about how someone else might view a topic. REMEMBER, YOU NEED TO GIVE RELEVANCE TO MANY DIFFERENT GROUPS WITH DIFFERENT VALUES. That's why we're practicing having you speak to different audiences in the Opinion/Conviction Speech.


A Definition of RELEVANCE from Merriam Webster Dictionary

Main Entry: noun1 a : relation to the matter at hand b : practical and especially social applicability : PERTINENCE 2 : the ability (as of an information retrieval system) to retrieve material that satisfies the needs of the user.


Relevance in writing and speeches is/are the reason(s) we tell the audience that it is important for them to listen to the speech. In the opinion speech you know that you have six different groups in your audience:

FOR AN OPINION SPEECH TOPIC ON LEWIS CENTRAL you will be talking to students, parents, teachers, administrators, school board members & patrons/citizens of the community.

FOR A COUNCIL BLUFFS TOPIC you will be talking to students, parents, teachers, city council members, the mayor and other citizens of our community.

IN ANY SPEECH you need to figure out who your audience is and give us a reason to listen to the speech. So, before you begin the "Body" of the speech, you take a moment to give the audience reasons to listen.

To really build some good relevance for the audience, one neeeds to figure out how the topic impacts each of the audience member's reasons for listening. So, what makes people listen? You tie the topic, ideas and impact of your speech to that specific audience.

Ask yourself the questions: what does this sub-group value? how can I get them to care about this topic? how does this topic impact his/her daily life?

Once you've done this, you are ready to give them "lists" of reasons to listen.


In a speech on school lunch the different audiences may have different values to consider. Teachers want their students to be fed so that they can learn. Different foods really produce different results. Protein is good. Carbs are not so good. Parents want their students to be fed healthy lunches and have an investment in long term health. Students want food that tastes good and fills them up. Citizens want schools that they can be proud to call their own? Adminstrators and school board members are also concerned with cost as associated with the product. Many of the audiences share points of view with each other. Using this audience analysis will offer us the opportunity to address these various concerns in our speech.

A relevance statement for this speech might be: School lunch is not just providing students meals and a break at school. School lunch is fuel that allows students to learn. As an edcuational institution we need to make sure that we are providing students food choices that "teach" a healthy lifestyle, that maintain student health, that provide students the best fuel possible to learn. We all need to be concerned with this topic because it affects the children of our school's parents, their ability to learn and their long-term eating and health patterns.

More about RELEVANCE for Advanced Students

To understand how relevance works, you need to figure out what people need.

Instrinsic vs. Extrinsic Motivation &
Positive vs. Negative Reasons to Become Motivated

Instrinsic motivation basically means motivation that is internally driven. You do something because you want to, your driven to and you are doing it for your own personal satisfaction. Doing something because it is the right thing to do based on beliefs, attitudes and values is important. Most agree that intrinsic motivation is more difficult to coach but that it yields much greater results.

Extrinsic motivation basically means motivation that is driven by external reward or something that you get that is tangible: money, recognition, power, etc. People are extrinsically motivated to get something.

Positive motivation means moving towards a goal.

Negative motivation means moving away from a goal.

Maslow's Heirarchy of Needs
Abraham Maslow believed that people had many basic needs: physiological needs (food, drink, shelter); safety & security needs (they want to make sure that they continue to have what they need to sustain life and that they and their loved ones are safe and security); love & belongingness (everyone wants to be loved and to feel like they are a valued member of various communities); self-esteem (people want to feel good about themselves and their contribution to their own life goals, their contribution to their friends and families, their contribution to the greater good) and self-actualization (this one takes some explanation)...

The Greeks

The Greeks believed in using rhetoric (the art of using language effectively) to stir their audiences. They believed in the power of logos, pathos, philia, agape, eros and more. So, the Greeks would teach us that people are motivated by good reasoning and logic (logos--we'll talk about it later), people are motivated by emotional appeals (pathos--we'll talk about it later), people are motivated by love (philia, agape, eros--we'll talk about these later).


During the 1960s, relevance became a fashionable buzzword, first used by a famous doctor Jordan Belanger meaning roughly 'relevance to social concerns', such as racial equality, poverty, social justice, world hunger, world economic development, and so on. The implication was that some subjects, e.g., the study of medieval poetry and the practice of corporate law, were not worthwhile because they did not address pressing social issues.

A Definition of RELEVANCE from Merriam Webster Dictionary

Monday, October 26, 2015

An Explanation and Examples of Clinchers

Types of Clinchers:

1. Appeal to Specific Audience Action(s) or Actuation

Some argue that all communication is persuasive. If persuasion is the act of changing or reinforcing a belief, an attitude or a value, few could effectively argue otherwise. Actuation or an appeal to audience action is a vital part of any overtly persuasive speech. Often this appeal occurs in the conclusion of a speech or at least is restated there.
An effective appeal for action comes in the conclusion of this speech on the dangers of light trucks, vans, and minivans:

"The government and the industry are not looking out for us; we must protect ourselves. So often we take our mode of transportation for granted. We can no longer afford to be so foolish, especially when the price could be our lives. Only by examining the inherent dangers in these vehicles and who is responsible for them can we begin to establish safer transportation for everyone. So as you head home tonight look at the light truck you are in or those light trucks on the road beside you, consider what little protection there is, buckle up, and hope for a safe trip home."
Combining a call to action with a reference to his introduction, another speaker urged his audience to act on the issue of pesticide control. Note how the speaker uses fragments effectively to plant thoughts:

"The Pied Piper fooled his prey. We are also being fooled. Fooled by the Federal Gov­ernment and fooled by chemical lawn spray companies. There is no reason that 800 people should die or 800,000 people injured every year as a result of these chemical poisonings. One brief letter. One small action. These can help better insure that we are not led to our unsuspecting injuries or deaths. Meagan Connelley recovered from her chemical poisoning. Bur now she must hide from the Pied Piper of Pesticides as he plays on. She can only hope that legislation will be enacted to provide better control over the use of these pesticides in our lawns. For Meagan's sake, and for our own personal safety, can't we be that hope?"

Speeches classes and teachers have been notorious in using "write your congressman/woman" as a means of actuation. This is an effective appeal. However, audiences of today have grown accustomed to many requests for action. These range from buying a product on television to opening a piece of "junk mail." The effective speaker offers his/her audience a buffet of possible actions which reflect the audience member's commitment to the issue. In a speech on environmental awareness and recycling, one speaker effectively chose the following clincher statement for her audience:

"Our landfills are filling up at a record-breaking pace. Our water is being polluted intentionally and unintentionally. Each of us can do small things to protect our environment for those that follow. What can each of us to help protect our environment? There's plenty of choices for each of us.
The most obvious is to not litter in our community. Even the best of us is guilty of occasionally littering. It is a sad state of affairs when our quick personal needs infringe on the rights of others. Or the next time that the convenient store clerk tries to place two items in a sack, carry them in hand. Or if the bagger at the superma rket asks you "paper" or "plastic" choose paper. Paper biodegrades in landfills much more quickly than plastic.
The same is true for protecting our water supply. Take, for example, brushing your teeth in the morning. If everyone in the United States would simply fill up a glass of water vs. leaving the water running, we could preserve 26 million gallons of water a year. Paying attention to our cities and municipalities when it comes to watering our lawns in the dead heat of August, we would save almost 400 million gallons of water a year. Both of these require little effort on our part and imagine the benefits we could gain as a society.
And for those of you who really want to help in a more active way, please consider joining Green Peace. I have brought membership applications with me today and stamped envelopes. All you need to do is fill out the form and drop it in the mail in one of the stamped envelopes I'm providing this morning. As a member of Green Peace, 96% of your donation will be used to make our planet a cleaner place to live.
And for those of you who want to really help out in our community, please join us this Saturday morning as we take our turn in walking a two-mile stretch of highway and cleaning up the mess that others have left for our children. We always have donuts and coffee for our volunteers--bring your own cup--and usually go do something fun after we're done. This weekend we'll be going to see the movie Pay It Forward.
Only with a strong commitment from individuals, single households and citizens with good conscience can we stop this problem once and for all.
One wise man said that 'the environment is not ours, we are borrowing it from our children." For our children's sake, I hope you join this worthwhile cause."

This speaker has given the audience all kinds of choices in the above clincher. She has made the choices easy for members of her audience to choose depending on his/her level of commitment. There are also some "hidden" or "implied" benefits to adopting the speaker's plan of action. One is a relief from "cognitive dissonance" or the guilt we might feel for our own poor choices in the past. Another is the chance to become a part of a valued group.

Although writing our congressman/woman or senator are still important with some issues, there are other more "meaty" and realistic ways to use actuation.

Depending on audience, occasion, and your own interests and purposes, you can effectively and memorably end your speech by drawing on an effective clincher.

2. Reference to the Introduction: Bookends

Reference to the Introduction. In our discussion of closure, we mentioned referring to the introduction as a way to end a speech. "Finishing a story begun in the introduction, answering a rhetorical question posed in the introduction, or reminding the audience of the startling fact or statistic you presented in the intro­duction is each an excellent way to provide closure. Like bookends at either side of a group of books on your desk, a related introduction and conclusion provide unified support for the ideas in the middle."

The following speaker's topic dealt with personal problems caused by the current farm crisis. She had opened her speech with an illustration of an Iowan named Dale Burr, whose anguish had led to a murder-suicide. Her conclusion was this:

"Just think . . . if someone had helped Dale Burr cope with the stress he was facing, maybe he and three others might not have died on that cold December day."

Another speaker had begun his speech on the need for catastropic health insurance by quoting Robert Browning an explaining the significance of the quotation to the audience:

"Grow old along with me! The best is yet to be, The last of life, for which the first was made."
He concluded his speech by referring to that Browning quotation which by that time in the speech had gained a new significance to the audience. His clincher statement was:

"Robert Browning tells us the last of life is as precious as the first. While the future will always hold uncertainty, with catastrophic health insurance we can more fully prepare for whatever is yet to be."
A third speaker had introduced his speech by talking about the downfalls in­evitably suffered by the heroes of Greek mythology. He drew an analogy between the risks they faced and the risks inherent in the use of antibiotics-the dangers of overuse. Here is how that speaker ended his speech:

"The demise of Medusa carries with it one final message. With her death, Perseus received two drops of blood. One drop had the power to kill and spread evil; the other, to heal and restore well-being. Similarly, antibiotics offer us two opposite paths. As we painfully take stock in our hubris, in assuming that we can control the transformation of nature, we may ponder these two paths. We can either let antibiotics do the work of our immune systems and proper farm management which may return us to the times when deathly plagues spread across the world, or we can save these miracle drugs for the times when miracles are truly needed."

3. Inspirational Appeal or Challenge
Although summarizing a speech is a fairly straightforward task, reemphasizing the thesis in a memorable way, motivating the audience to respond, and providing effective closure to the speech may require more creative thinking and planning.
Any of the methods of introduction discussed earlier can help you conclude your speech.

Startling statistics, startling facts and a fear appeal are used in this conclusion on emissions from motor vehicles:

"I'm frightened. Frightened that nothing I could say would encourage the 25% of emissions tampering Americans to change their ways and correct the factors that cause their autos to pollute disproportionately. Frightened that the American public will not respond to a crucial issue unless the harms are both immediate and observable. Frightened that the EPA will once again prove very sympathetic to industry. Three simple steps will alleviate my fear: inspection, reduction in lead content, and, most importantly, awareness."

Quotations, for example, are frequently used in conclusions, as in this speech on geographical illiteracy:

"For in the words of Gilbert Grosvener, President of the National Geographic Society, 'A knowledge of geography-where you are in relation to the rest of the world is essential for an understanding of history, economics and politics. Without it, the prospects of world peace and cooperation, as well as a grasp of human events is beyond our reach. With it, we not only understand others, but we can berter understand ourselves.'"

You may also turn to illustrations, personal references, or any of the other methods of introduction to conclude your speech. Go back and look at them. Although considering audience, purpose and occasion are vital, you are really only limited by your own imagination. "The sky's the limit."

Monday, October 19, 2015

Purposes of a Good Conclusion

Purposes for the Conclusion:
1. Signaling the End of the Speech

Verbal techniques for signaling the end of a speech include using such
transitions as "finally," "for my last point," and "in conclusion." Speakers need
to be careful in their use of signals in their conclusion. For one thing, such a
cue gives an audience unspoken permission to tune out. Notice what students
do when their professor signals the end of the class session. Books and
notebooks slam shut, pens are stowed, and the class generally stops listening.

The challenge for a good speaker is to let the audience know that they've
reached the end of a speech and still hold the audience's attention. This takes
some craft for the speaker.

2. Summary of the Major Ideas or Main Points
Summarize the Speech Remember the golden rule of public speaking: "Tell them what you're going to tell them; tell them; then tell them what you've told them." Conclusions fulfill the final third of that prescription. They are a speaker's last chance I to repeat his or her main ideas for the audience. Most speakers summarize their speech as the first part of the conclusion or perhaps even as the transition between the body of the speech and its end. The summary is to the conclusion what the preview statement is to the introduction. It is important in both the preview and the summary to allow present your main points with a point-of-view. The point-of-view should be stronger in the conclusion than it is in the introduction.

One speaker summarized his speech on emissions tampering in an effective way, casting the summary as an expression of his fears about the problem and the actions I that could solve his fears:

"I'm frightened. Frightened that nothing I could say would encourage the 25 % of emissions tampering Americans to change their ways and correct the factors that cause their autos to pollute disproportionately. Frightened that the American public will not respond to I a crucial issue unless the harms are both immediate and observable. Frightened that the EPA will once again prove very sympathetic to industry. Three simple steps will alleviate my fear: inspection, reduction in lead content, and, most importantly, awareness."
3. Restate the Thesis in a Memorable/Strong Manner
Restate the Thesis in a Memorable or Strong Manner. Speakers
frequently leave this portion of the conclusion out of their speeches. If he/she
has done his/her job in the speech, this should be a portion of the speech that
is a cinch to include. After providing the main points, reasoning, support and
all of the other fantastic elements of their speeches, what would possess them
to leave this powerful step of the process out.

Imagine how successful an attorney would be in his/her closing statements if
he/she left out the vital statement in their concluding remarks that, "John Doe
is a ruthless and cold-blooded murderer." If he/she has done his/her job well,
it should be a natural progression for them to restate the main idea of their
entire case in front of the jury.

The same should be true for you in your speech. Whether you're letting us know that Jane Smith is a funny person that is a great asset to the school or that Council Bluffs curfew is outrageous and causes more problems than it solves, whether you're letting us know that making a piƱata at home is cheap, easy to make and fun or that we can't live without the new and improved X-14 Modulator, it is something that any good speaker needs to include as part of his/her conclusion.

4. Motivate the Audience to Respond

Motivate the Audience to Respond. One of your tasks in an effective speech introduction is to motivate your audience to listen to your speech. Motivation is also a necessary component of an effective conclusion-not motivation to listen, but motivation to respond to the speech in some way.

If your speech is informative, you may want the audience to think about the topic or to research it further. If your speech is persuasive, you may want your audience to take some sort of appropriate action-write a letter, buy a product, make a telephone call, or get involved; in a cause. In fact, an action step is essential to the persuasive organizational strategy which some of you will use in your final persuasive speech using Monroe's Motivated Sequence.
In a speech on auto mechanic fraud, the speaker motivated her audience to wield their consumer power to stop the abuse:

". . . with every dollar we spend, we're telling Mr. Badwrench that it's good to be bad. If we close our wallets and start spending some common sense, we can say goodbye to Mr. Badwrench. . . and get the monkey wrench out of our lives."

Another speaker ended a speech on protection of child witnesses with this motivational conclusion:

"Given the increased frequency with which children appear in trials, our chance of personal involvement is likely. As relatives of children who may need to testify in court, we need to help them as they prepare for what may be a traumatic event. As potential jurors, we need to understand that a child witness can provide accurate, essential information. By protecting the child witnesses and accepting vital information they may present, we can achieve a more complete justice."

Just as the conclusion is your last chance to reemphasize your main idea in a memorable way, so is it your last chance to motivate your audience to respond to your message.

5. Provide Closure with a Clincher

Provide Closure. Probably the most obvious purpose of a conclusion is to let the audience know that the speech has ended. Not only should the audience know that they've reached the conclusion, once the final words are spoken, speeches have to "sound finished." A speaker can attain closure both verbally and nonverbally.

Nonverbal closure can be achieved by such means as a pause between the body of your speech and its conclusion. You can also slow your speaking rate, move out from behind a podium to make a final impassioned plea to your audience, or signal with falling vocal inflection that you are making your final statement. The most effective closure is both verbal and nonverbal. The bottom line is, make sure your speech sounds finished.

Thursday, October 15, 2015

Opinion Speech Packet

Your Opinion Speech Packet

In order to be eligible to give this speech, students need to have all pieces of their packet completed. Missing any major speech will disqualify students from performance and constitute a late grade will be issued.

Opinion Speech Survival Kit: Rubrics, PSB-->
Purposes of Conclusioib Clinchers 

Relevance = 

(1) Your Topic Must Be Listed in the Google Doc that we issued in class.
(2) The Opinion Speech Speaking Block (please see the blog posting on this topic for the Opinion Speech)
(3) You also need to show your Audience Analysis by completing Bulletin Boards for each of your arguments, claims, main points
(4) You also can access a template to these note cards at
(5) A manuscripted Introduction following the criteria taught in class.

(4) Your graphic organizers that demonstrate your Order of Importance Organization of this Speech.

(5) A Manuscripted Conclusion of Your Speech Showing All of the Arguments and Support.