Incorporating Supporting Material
So far, you have learned several key steps in the speech creation process, which are reviewed in Figure 9.4 "From Research to Main Points". Now you will begin to incorporate more specific information from your supporting materials into the body of your speech. You can place the central ideas that fit your organizational pattern at the beginning of each main point and then plug supporting material in as subpoints.
Figure 9.4 From Research to Main Points
This information will also make up the content of your formal and speaking outlines, which we will discuss more in Section 9.4 "Outlining". Remember that you want to include a variety of supporting material (examples, analogies, statistics, explanations, etc.) within your speech. The information that you include as subpoints helps back up the central idea that started the main point. Depending on the length of your speech and the depth of your research, you may also have sub-subpoints that back up the claim you are making in the subpoint. Each piece of supporting material you include eventually links back to the specific purpose and thesis statement. This approach to supporting your speech is systematic and organized and helps ensure that your content fits together logically and that your main points are clearly supported and balanced.
One of the key elements of academic and professional public speaking is verbally citing your supporting materials so your audience can evaluate your credibility and the credibility of your sources. You should include citation information in three places: verbally in your speech, on any paper or electronic information (outline, PowerPoint), and on a separate reference sheet. Since much of the supporting material you incorporate into your speech comes directly from your research, it’s important that you include relevant citation information as you plug this information into your main points. Don’t wait to include citation information once you’ve drafted the body of your speech. At that point it may be difficult to retrace your steps to locate the source of a specific sentence or statistic. As you paraphrase or quote your supporting material, work the citation information into the sentences; do not clump the information together at the end of a sentence, or try to cite more than one source at the end of a paragraph or main point. It’s important that the audience hear the citations as you use the respective information so it’s clear which supporting material matches up with which source.
Writing key bibliographic information into your speech will help ensure that you remember to verbally cite your sources and that your citations will be more natural and flowing and less likely to result in fluency hiccups. At minimum, you should include the author, date, and source in a verbal citation. Sometimes more information is necessary. When citing a magazine, newspaper, or journal article, it is more important to include the source name than the title of the article, since the source name—for example, Newsweek—is what the audience needs to evaluate the speaker’s credibility. For a book, make sure to cite the title and indicate that the source is a book. When verbally citing information retrieved from a website, you do not want to try to recite a long and cumbersome URL in your speech. Most people don’t even make it past the “www.” before they mess up. It is more relevant to audiences for speakers to report the sponsor/author of the site and the title of the web page, or section of the website, where they obtained their information. When getting information from a website, it is best to use “official” organization websites or government websites. When you get information from an official site, make sure you state that in your citation to add to your credibility. For an interview, state the interviewee’s name, their credentials, and when the interview took place. Advice for verbally citing sources and examples from specific types of sources follow:
- Magazine article
- “According to an article by Niall Ferguson in the January 23, 2012, issue of Newsweek, we can expect much discussion about ‘class warfare’ in the upcoming presidential and national election cycle. Ferguson reports that…”
- “As reported by Niall Ferguson, in the January 23, 2012, issue of Newsweek, many candidates denounce talking points about economic inequality…”
- Newspaper article
- “On November 26, 2011, Eithne Farry of The Daily Telegraph of London reported that…”
- “An article about the renewed popularity of selling products in people’s own homes appeared inThe Daily Telegraph on November 26, 2011. Eithne Farry explored a few of these ‘blast-from-the-past’ styled parties…”
- “According to information I found at ready.gov, the website of the US Department of Homeland Security, US businesses and citizens…”
- “According to information posted on the US Department of Homeland Security’s official website,…”
- “Helpful information about business continuity planning can be found on the U.S. Department of Homeland Security’s official website, located at ready.gov…”
- Journal article
- “An article written by Dr. Nakamura and Dr. Kikuchi, at Meiji University in Tokyo, found that the Fukushima disaster was complicated by Japan’s high nuclear consciousness. Their 2011 article published in the journal Public Administration Today reported that…”
- “In a 2012 article published in Public Administration Review, Professors Nakamura and Kikuchi reported that the Fukushima disaster was embarrassing for a country with a long nuclear history…”
- “Nakamura and Kikuchi, scholars in crisis management and public policy, authored a 2011 article about the failed crisis preparation at the now infamous Fukushima nuclear plant. TheirPublic Administration Review article reports that…”
- Bad example (doesn’t say where the information came from). “A 2011 study by Meiji University scholars found the crisis preparations at a Japanese nuclear plant to be inadequate…”
- “In their 2008 book At War with Metaphor, Steuter and Wills describe how we use metaphor to justify military conflict. They report…”
- “Erin Steuter and Deborah Wills, experts in sociology and media studies, describe the connections between metaphor and warfare in their 2008 book At War with Metaphor. They both contend that…”
- “In their 2008 book At War with Metaphor, Steuter and Wills reveal…”
- “On February 20 I conducted a personal interview with Dr. Linda Scholz, a communication studies professor at Eastern Illinois University, to learn more about Latina/o Heritage Month. Dr. Scholz told me that…”
- “I conducted an interview with Dr. Linda Scholz, a communication studies professor here at Eastern, and learned that there are more than a dozen events planned for Latina/o Heritage Month.”
- “In a telephone interview I conducted with Dr. Linda Scholz, a communication studies professor, I learned…”
During the process of locating and incorporating supporting material into your speech, it’s important to practice good research skills to avoid intentional or unintentional plagiarism. Plagiarism, as we have already learned, is the uncredited use of someone else’s words or ideas. It’s important to note that most colleges and universities have strict and detailed policies related to academic honesty. You should be familiar with your school’s policy and your instructor’s policy. At many schools, there are consequences for academic dishonesty whether it is intentional or unintentional. Although many schools try to make a learning opportunity out of an initial violation, multiple violations could lead to suspension or expulsion. At the class level, plagiarism may result in an automatic “F” for the assignment or the course.
Over my years of teaching, I have encountered more than a dozen cases of plagiarism. While that is not a large percentage in relation to the large number of students I have taught, I have noticed that the instances have steadily increased over the past few years. I don’t think this is because students are becoming more dishonest; I think it’s become easier to locate and copy information and easier to catch those who do. I always remind my students that they do not have access to a secret version of the Internet that faculty can’t access. If it takes a student five seconds to find a speech to plagiarize online, it will take me the same amount of time. Software programs like Turnitin.com also aid instructors in detecting plagiarism.
Being organized and thorough in your research can help avoid a situation where you feel backed into a corner and fake some sources or leave out some citations because you’re out of time. One key to avoiding this type of situation is to keep good records as you research and write. First, as you locate sources, always record all the key bibliographic information. I know from experience how frustrating it can be to try to locate a source after you’ve already worked it into your speech or paper, and you have the quote or paraphrase but can’t retrace your steps to find where you took it from. Printing the source, downloading the PDF, or copying and pasting the URL as soon as you locate the source can help you retrace your steps if needed.
Save drafts of your writing as you progress. Each day I work on a chapter for this book, I go to the “File” menu, choose “Save As,” and amend the file name to include that day’s date. That way I have a record that shows my work. The various style guides for writing also offer specific advice on how to cite sources and how to conduct research. You are probably familiar with MLA (Modern Language Association), used mostly in English and the humanities, and APA (American Psychological Association), which is used mostly in the social sciences. There’s also the Chicago Manual of Style (CMS), used in history and also the style this book is in, and CBE (developed by the Council of Science Editors), which is used in biological and earth sciences. Since each manual is geared toward a different academic area, it’s a good source for specific research-related questions. When in doubt about how to conduct or cite research, you can also ask your instructor for guidance.
- Why do you think instances of academic dishonesty have been steadily increasing over the past few years?
- What is your school’s policy in academic honesty? What is your instructor’s policy? What are the potential consequences for violating this policy at the school and classroom levels?
- Based on what you learned here, what are some strategies you can employ to make your research process more organized?