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Public Speaking: Informative Speaking Organization

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  • Type: Video Tutorial
  • Length: 4:54
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  • Posted: 07/01/2009

This lesson was selected from a broader, comprehensive course, Public Speaking. This course and others are available from Thinkwell, Inc. The full course can be found at http://www.thinkwell.com/student/product/publicspeaking. The full course covers getting started, preparing a speech, presenting the speech, audience considerations, types of speeches, small group communication, and more. The course features three renowned professors: Jess K. Alberts of Arizona State University, Brenda J. Allen of the University of Colorado at Denver, and Dan West of Ohio State University.

Jess K. Alberts is a professor of communication at the Hugh Downs School of Human Communication at Arizona State University, where she was Director from 1995 until 2004. She currently serves as Director of the Conflict Transformation Project and is an associate with Project for Wellness and Work-life. Her research appears regularly in academic journals, and she recently co-authored “Human Communication in Society”. Undergraduates at Arizona State honored her classroom teaching skills with a "Last Lecture Award," and she has twice been a finalist for Professor of the Year at ASU. A nationally known speaker on interpersonal communication, Professor Alberts has given numerous presentations across the country on humor, conflict, and developing and maintaining a passionate life.

Brenda J. Allen is departmental chair and a professor of communication at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, where she teaches organizational communication. She has published numerous articles and book chapters on organizational communication and diversity and she serves on the editorial boards of several communication journals. In 2004, she authored the book “Difference Matters: Communicating Social Identity”. While at the University of Colorado at Denver and Health Sciences Center, she has been recognized with the First Annual Award for Outstanding Achievement for Commitment to Diversity and she received the Francine Meritt Award for Outstanding Contributions to the Lives of Women in Communication from the Women’s Caucus of the National Communication Association. Professor Allen is frequently invited to speak at community and professional events.

Dan West is the John A. Cassese Director of Forensics at Ohio University. Previously, he was a distinguished lecturer at Rice University, where he also acted as Director of Forensics. Under his direction, the team consistently placed in the top ten at national debate tournaments. While at Rice, Prof. West won the Outstanding Faculty Associate for Brown College (1999) and the award for Outstanding Teaching in the Humanities and Social Sciences (four times). He is well known for using his engaging speaking style in a variety of settings; his annual presentation of the Rice University Alcohol Policy to the freshman class was always a hit.

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Suppose that you've been assigned to give a speech, an informative speech, on dot-com companies. How would you organize that speech? Well, the organizational pattern that you choose should be determined by your intention for that speech. For example, if you were simply wanting to explain the different types of dot-com companies, then you would choose a topical pattern. On the other hand, if you wanted to explain why so many dot-coms failed in 2001, then you would choose a causal pattern. As you sit down to write your informative speeches, please keep in mind that the intention you have for your speech will determine what organizational pattern will work best.
Now, the most common organizational pattern-- And by the way, I know you've heard these before; we're just going to go over them one more time to help you as you sit down to prepare each of your informative speeches. Do you remember what is the most common pattern? Yes, it's the topical pattern. It's most common, and because it's the most common, it may be overused. So you want to think carefully about is it the appropriate pattern for me, given the purpose of my speech. Now, you might remember that when you divide a speech by topic, you're taking your topic, and you're dividing it into subcategories or subtopics.
For example, let's say that you did want to give a dot-com speech and use a topical pattern. In that case, your intention would be to explain the types of dot-coms. For example, you would say, "Dot-coms that offer a product, such as Amazon, dot-coms that offer a service, such as Map Locator, and dot-coms that offer knowledge, such as a medical dot-com." Or let's say you wanted to give a speech on vacations. You could divide that into subcategories of types of vacations such as adventure vacations, such as whitewater rafting, destination vacations, such as going to Europe or Disneyland, and all-inclusive vacations, like Club Med. You simply divided the topic into subtopics.
You could also use a chronological pattern, and, remember, a chronological pattern is based on a time sequence. It explains your topic as it unfolds over time. Consequently, it's very good for historical speeches or speeches about historical speeches or events, like the Johnstown flood or George Washington Carver. It's also good for a process speech where you explain how to do something. Let's say, for example, that you're giving a speech on how to paint a house. You could explain it by breaking it into categories of when different events occur. For example, what products to buy, how to organize your workspace, how to prepare the surface, and how to apply the paint.
Another type of pattern that you may be using fairly frequently when you give speeches is the causal pattern. The causal pattern occurs when you trace a condition or an outcome from its cause to effect. So we explain why something occurred, when it occurred. Let's say, for example, in real life you may have to explain to your boss why a project failed. Then you would use a causal pattern. You trace it from its causes to its effect, which in this case would be failure.
So let's say you're giving a speech on dot-coms and you're using a causal pattern to explain why the dot-coms failed. You can also use this pattern to explain why any number of events occurred, such as an airline crash or why the Challenger Spacecraft exploded or something like why a particular politician was successful or not successful in getting elected.
You might remember the gimmick pattern. There are a variety of gimmicks you might use, and I'm going to discuss two. If you recall, one of those patterns is to have the first letter of the first word of each of your main ideas spell out a word. Let's say, for example, I'm giving a speech on how to treat sports injuries. I could use the expression RICE--rest, ice, compression, elevation. Notice how the first letter of the first word of each main idea spells out the word "rice." Or I may use the gimmick where each of the first letters of the first words of my main ideas begin with the same letter. So if I were giving a speech on weight loss, I might say you should eat more healthfully, exercise more often, and enjoy more activities that don't involve food. Notice how each main idea begins with the letter "e."
The last pattern is the pro-con pattern. As you may recall, you can use that pattern either for informative or persuasive speeches. Do you recall what makes it informative versus persuasive? The pro-con pattern is informative when you present a balanced set of information, and what's pro and con are equally balanced in the information. Let's say, for example, I'm giving a speech on generic drugs. Well, I might say, "The pros are that they are cheaper and readily available, but I also have to mention the cons--which is that they may not be as effective."
When you sit down to write your next informative speech, I want you to think very carefully, "What do I want this speech to accomplish? What is my intention? What do I want the audience to take away from this speech?" Then based on that intention, choose the pattern that works best for that particular intention. If you do, your speech will be successful.
Types of Speeches ! Speaking to Inform [page 2 of 3]
Patterns of Organization in Informative Speaking
www.thinkwell.com info@thinkwell.com
Copyright © 2001, Thinkwell Corp. All Rights Reserved. 82844/2/02
Types of Speeches ! Speaking to Inform [page 1 of 3]
Patterns of Organization in Informative Speaking
www.thinkwell.com info@thinkwell.com
Copyright © 2001, Thinkwell Corp. All Rights Reserved. 82844/2/02

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