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Public Speaking: Speeches for Public Relations


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About this Lesson

  • Type: Video Tutorial
  • Length: 6:11
  • Media: Flash video file
  • Use: Watch Online
  • Access Period: Unrestricted
  • 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 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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Regardless of what career you choose, you may be called upon to give a speech on behalf of your company or your organization. This is called public relations speaking. There are many ways to create public relations messages. Today I hope to give you a brief overview of some basic techniques for PR speaking.
First of all, let's examine the purpose of public relations speaking. Public relations speaking can be the function of a job or a position. Many professionals are called upon to make speeches representing their companies or their organizations explaining what they do or a special project or an event they might be involved in. Now, these speeches can be written in a manuscript, or they might be extemporaneous off of limited notes, or they might even be impromptu speeches delivered with just a moment's notice. Whatever you do, they're designed to inform the public and improve relations with them. Let me show you what I mean. Let's take a look at a clip of Elizabeth Dole, then president of the American Red Cross when they were providing disaster relief to victims of the California earthquake in 1994.
We're providing food, clothing, bottled water, whatever the emergency needs are. The Red Cross is the first to arrive and the last to leave, and, of course, damage assessment is underway as well.
Mrs. Dole quickly and directly tells her audience the goals and purpose of the American Red Cross in this situation, which, in turn, constructs or improves our opinion of the Red Cross. As this interview continues, she goes on to answer questions and to provide more information.
With that in mind, let's take a look at some techniques of public relations speaking. In public relations speaking, you're going to begin by anticipating the objections of the audience. Well, I have been through public relations speaking recently. At my university, we recently adopted a new accounting software program. Well, as we went into the training sessions, a lot of us had objections about it. The presenters did a good job of anticipating these objections, trying to figure out what we won't like about the new product and convince us it's a good change. As they went through their presentation, they were sure to emphasize the positive aspects, saying things like, "Remember how hard it was to print reports in the old accounting system? With the new system it's as easy as this." Well, even though they went through this, some of us still were skeptical, and we had a lot of questions for them. They did a good job of not becoming defensive while answering our questions. Even though we were wondering why did we have to change? Isn't this going to cost a lot of money? They answered our questions without becoming defensive, thereby making us feel more confident in their decision to change software programs.
When you construct a public relations message, be sure to keep the message brief, and you might want to look for clever ways to use language so that your speech is more memorable. Elizabeth Dole uses the phrase "First to arrive, last to leave" when describing the American Red Cross. This is an example of a sound bite, a short, easy-to-remember burst of information.
Now, in public relations speaking, who is saying it and how they are saying it is often as important as what is being said. Well, this is ethos, logos, and pathos in action. Ethos is the ethical proof the speaker brings with them. Mrs. Dole has a lot of ethical proof as president of the American Red Cross. Logos is the logical information she presents, telling us that they are the first to arrive and the last to leave, a good thing for us to remember. And pathos is the emotional proof of the situation. She tells us that she's there for the victims, and that helps us feel comfortable about the situation.
Now let's talk about some type of public relations speaking. The first one I want to talk about is introducing a product or concept. Let's say I own a company that produces sponges, and I want to tell you about my new product. I want to follow these four basic steps. I'm going to start with a greeting, something as simple as this. "Hi, I'm Dan West, president of Spongee Sponge Corporation." Then I'm going to discuss my purpose. "I'm here today to tell you about our new product, Super Sponge." And then I'll describe the product or the concept: "This sponge is awesome. It's bigger and better than last year's sponge. It absorbs 25 percent more liquid than any sponge on the market, and it's lower in cost." Then I'm going to conclude: "So go buy Spongee Sponge today." Okay, that is a very brief and hopefully humorous example of public relations speaking. If you were introducing a product or concept, you would take these four steps--greeting the audience, discussing the purpose, describing the product or concept, and concluding--and expand on them and develop them into an entire presentation.
Let's talk about another type of public relations speaking, and that's called crisis communication. In crisis communication, you're usually responding to a difficult event or a crisis that has occurred. You'll follow a similar format with a few alterations. Again, begin with a greeting and an introduction. Say who you are and who you represent, and then provide important data about the crisis so everybody's on the same page. Then explain your company or organization's next step, or how you plan to solve this crisis, and then end by taking any questions, if that's appropriate.
Let's take a look at a clip of Jacques Nasser, chairman of Ford Motor Company, as he addresses the crisis with Firestone tires in front of a Senate committee on SUV safety. He begins by introducing himself and giving his qualifications. He then makes the following statement, providing important data about this crisis.
I take no personal or professional pleasure in saying it. Firestone failed to share critical claims data with Ford that might have prompted the recall of these bad tires sooner.
Following this he goes on to explain the company's next step, or how they plan to solve this problem, and then opens himself up to questions from the Senate committee.
Well, these are just a few of the situations where you could use public relations speaking, from announcing a company involvement in a community fund-raiser to introducing a new product to dealing with a public outcry over a round of lay-offs or even introducing and announcing the appointment of a new university president. Public relations speaking is everywhere. Public relations speaking is public speaking in action.
Types of Speeches ! Speeches for Special Occasions [page 2 of 3]
Speeches for Public Relations
Copyright © 2001, Thinkwell Corp. All Rights Reserved. 83284/18/02
Types of Speeches ! Speeches for Special Occasions [page 1 of 3]
Speeches for Public Relations
Copyright © 2001, Thinkwell Corp. All Rights Reserved. 83284/18/02

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