Glossary of Terms

Academic sources: often (not always) peer-reviewed by like-minded scholars in the field

Active voice: when the subject in a sentence performs the action

Ad hominem: connects a real or perceived flaw in a person’s character or behavior to an issue he or she supports, asserting that the flaw in character makes the position on the issue wrong

Aesthetics: to captivate and evoke a felt experience for and with a live audience

Aesthetic experience: when good speakers create a felt sense with their audience. Something happens where the audience is captivated by the speaker’s delivery of their argument

After-dinner speech: humorous speeches that make a serious point

Alliteration: the repetition of initial consonant sounds in a sentence or passage

Appeal to traditional: the fallacy type that uses traditional practice as the reason for continuing a policy

Appreciative listening: takes place while listening to music, poetry, or literature or watching a play or movie; listening that’s focused on appreciating the arts

Argument: a series of statements in support of a claim, assertion, or proposition

Asynchronous: the speech may be recorded and watched at a different time. Speech is not live

Attitude: a positive or negative response to a person, idea, object, or policy

Audible aids: musical excerpts, audio speech excerpts, and sound effects (see also: presentation aids)

Bandwagon fallacy: fallacy that asserts that because something is popular (or seems to be), it is therefore good, correct, or desirable

Brainstorming: the process and practice of searching to find ideas or information

Call in: creating a message that implicates and relates to your audience; it is to summon

Call-to-action: an action for the audience given by a speaker during a persuasive speech

Cause/Effect Pattern: grouping information by the source or origin, followed by the effect

Chart: a graphical representation of data or a sketch representing an ordered process

Chronological organizational pattern groups information based on time order or in a set chronology—first this occurred, then this, then this, then that.

Civic engagement: listening to information that’s relevant to your community/communities and using public outlets—voting, petitioning, or speaking— to participate in democracy.

Claim: a declarative statement or assertion—it is something that you want your audience to accept or know

Closed information system: information is behind a paywall or requires a subscription

Commencement speech: speech to recognize and celebrate the achievements of a graduating class or other group of people

Commemorative speech: speeches that pay tribute to a person, place, thing, or idea by publicly honoring, remembering, or memorializing

Comprehensive listening: focused on understanding and remembering important information from a public speaking message

Confirmation bias: “a tendency to search for or interpret information in a way that confirms one’s preconceptions” (Nickerson, 1998)

Connective statements are broad terms that encompass several types of statements or phrases. They are generally designed to help “connect” parts of your speech to make it easier for audience members to follow.

Connotative meaning: the idea suggested by or associated with a word at a cultural or personal level

Constitutive communication: the idea that communication creates meaning and, thus, reality

Context: the particular time and place that a speech occurs

Critical listening: the audience member is evaluating the validity of the arguments and information and deciding whether the speaker is persuasive and whether the message should be accepted

Critical thinking: decision-making based on evaluating and critiquing information

Culture: the collection of language, values, beliefs, knowledge, rituals, and attitudes shared amongst a group

Defamatory speech: false statement of fact to damage a person’s character

Define: to set limits on something; defining a word is setting limits on what it means, how the audience should think about the word, and/or how you will use it

Definitional speeches provide the meaning of an idea to the audience

Deliberation: the process of discussing feasible choices that address community problems

Delivery: part of the classic rhetorical cannon interested in how information is delivered

Demagoguery: actions that attempt to manipulate by distorting an audience through prejudice and emotion.

Demographics: sociocultural characteristics that identify and characterize populations – are common ways of organizing and gathering data about groups of people

Denotative meaning: specific meaning associated with a word

Diagrams: visual representations that simplify a complex process

Digital oratory: thesis-driven, vocal, embodied public address that is housed within (online) new media platforms (also see: online public speaking)

Discrete audience: the explicit, formal audience that shows up to a speech

Dispersed audience: less defined and geographically unclear; often digital

Elocution: in classical rhetoric, the art of delivering speeches, where pronunciation, vocal delivery, and gestures were key to effective public speaking

Empathetic listening: understanding the feelings and motivations of another person, usually with a goal of helping

Ethics: the practice of what’s right, virtuous, or good

Ethnocentrism: the belief that one’s own culture is superior

Ethos: the credibility of a speaker (see also: rhetorical appeals)

Eulogy: speech given in honor of someone who has passed away

Evidence: the proof or support for a claim

Examples: specific instances to illuminate a concept

Explicit audience: the group that’s present when a speaker directs their message

Exploratory research: brainstorming strategies that spark curiosity

Extemporaneous speaking is the presentation of a carefully planned and rehearsed speech, spoken in a conversational manner using brief notes.

Facts: observations that verified by multiple credible sources

Fallacies: erroneous conclusions or statements made from poor analyses

False cause: a fallacy that assumes that one thing causes another, but there is no logical connection between the two

False dilemma: the “either-or” fallacy, or giving only two options, and more than two options exist

Familiar language: language that your audience is accustomed to hearing and experiencing

Funnel Approach: when brainstorming a topic, starting broad and moving downward to a more specific idea

Graph: a pictorial representation of the relationships of quantitative data using dots, lines, bars, pie slices

Hasty generalization: making a generalization with too few examples (see also: fallacies)

Hate speech: language directed against someone or a community’s nationality, race, gender, ability, sexuality, religion or citizenship

Hearing: physical process in which sound waves hit your ear drums and send a message to your brain

Historical narrative: stories about a past person, place, or thing

Implied audience: cultures, groups, or individuals who are represented and/or affected by a message

Impromptu speaking is the presentation of a short message without advance preparation.

Inferred warrants: when the underlying warrant can be understood without being explicitly stated

Internal summaries emphasize what has come before and remind the audience of what has been covered.

Iterative: the process of writing a speech; the final product is not the order that the speech is composed

Jargon: specific, technical language that is used in a given community

Keynote: speech focused on a key theme or idea—generally defined by the event or occasion— with the purpose of unification

Lateral reading: fact-checking source claims by reading other sites and resources

Lectern is a small raised surface, usually with a slanted top, where a speaker can place notes during a speech

Listening: active process where you are specifically making an effort to understand, process, and retain information

Manuscript speaking is the word-for-word iteration of a written message.

Memorized speaking is reciting a written message that the speaker has committed to memory

Metaphor: direct comparisons

Mind map: a visual tool that allows you to chart and expand key topic ideas or concepts

Monroe’s Motivated Sequence: designed by Alan Monroe, this 5-step organizational pattern approaches persuasion through attention, need, satisfaction, visualization, and action

Mythical norm: what Audre Lorde (1984) defines generally as young, white, thin, middle-class men

Narratives: a type of evidence that stories that clarify, dramatize, and emphasize ideas

Needs: important deficiencies that we are motivated to resolve

Noise: the physical or mental sound; a barrier to listening

Nonacademic information sources: sometimes also called popular press information sources; their primary purpose is to be read by the general public

Parallelism: the repetition of sentence structures

Percentage: expresses a proportion of out 100

Personal inventory: a process of tracking ideas, insights, or topics that you have experience with or interest in

Personal narrative: providing a story about your experience with a topic

Persuasion: “the process of creating, reinforcing, or changing people’s beliefs or actions” (Lucas, 2015, p. 306)

Persuasive continuum: a tool that allows you to visualize your audience’s relationship with your topic

Persuasive speaking: addressing a public controversy by creating, reinforcing, or changing someone’s beliefs or actions

Plagiarism: using another person’s words or ideas without giving credit

Planned redundancy: purposeful ways of repeating and restating parts of the speech to help the audience listen and retain the content

Podium is a raised platform or stage

Power: the ability and process of influencing others and selecting certain ways to represent our ideas

Presentation aids are the resources beyond the speech itself that a speaker uses to enhance the message conveyed to the audience

Problem/Solution pattern: grouping information by identifying a harm and describing a solution

Propaganda: biased or misleading information that’s purpose is to promote a particular agenda

Propositions of fact: Speeches with this type of proposition attempt to establish the truth of a statement

Propositions of policy: identify a solution to correct the problem

Propositions of value: argue that something is good/bad or right/wrong

Public controversy: community disputes that affect a large number of people

Public speaking: when a speaker attempts to move an audience by advocating for a purposeful message—through informing, persuading, or entertaining—in a particular context

Public speaking apprehension: fear associated with giving a public speech

Online public speaking: thesis-driven, vocal, embodied public address that is housed within (online) new media platforms (also see: digital oratory).

Open information system: information that is publicly available and accessibility

Outline: provides a visual structure where you can compile information into a well-organized document

Organizational patterns: standard ways of organizing groups or categories

Rate: how quickly or slowly you say the words of your speech

Red herring: creating a diversion or introducing an irrelevant point to distract someone or get someone off the subject of the argument

Reflexivity: to critically consider how our values, assumptions, actions, and communication affect others

Research: the process of discovering new knowledge and investigating a topic from different points of view

Selective recall: selectively attend to, perceive, and recall information that supports our existing viewpoints

Similes: the use of “like” or “and” when making a comparison

Slippery slope: a type of false cause fallacy which assumes that taking a first step will lead to subsequent events that cannot be prevented

Spatial pattern: groups information according to space or direction

Speech of acceptance: is a speech given by the recipient of a prize or honor

Speech of dedication: speeches designed to highlight the importance of the project and possibly those to whom the project has been dedicated

Speeches of demonstration are speeches that demonstrate how something is done for the audience

Speeches of description provide a clear, vivid, and memorable picture of a person, place, thing, idea, or alternative

Speeches of explanation detail processes or how something works, often explaining an otherwise complex, abstract, or unfamiliar idea to the audience

Speech of introduction: a mini-speech given by the host of a ceremony that introduces another speaker

Speeches that memorialize: longer speeches that celebrate and honor the person or group of individuals on a significant date

Speech of presentation: a brief speech given to accompany a prize or honor

Statistics: the collection, analysis, comparison, and interpretation of numerical data

Stereotyping: generalizing about a group of people and assuming that because a few persons in that group have a characteristic, all of them do

Straw person: a fallacy that shows only the weaker side of an opponent’s argument in order to more easily tear it down

Style: the classic rhetorical cannon interested in how to effectively craft and execute your ideas

Symbols: a word, icon, gesture, picture, object, etc.—that stand in for and represent a thing or experience

Synchronous: your audience is experiencing the speech in real-time

Target audience: individuals who are willing to listen to your argument despite disagreeing, having limited knowledge, or lacking experience with your advocacy

Testimony: a type of evidence that uses the words of others

Thesis statement: a single, declarative statement that outlines the purpose of your speech

Toast: speech designed to congratulate, appreciate, or remember

Topical pattern: groups information into key categories

Totalizing: taking one characteristic of a group or person and making that the “totality” or sum total of what that person or group is

Tropes: a turning of the text where the literal meaning is changed or altered to provide new insight (Brummett, 2019, p. 95)

Values: goals we strive for and what we consider important and desirable

Verbal delivery: what symbols you select and how you portray them in a public speech

Verbal punctuation: the process of imagining the words as they’re written to insert purposeful, punctuated pauses to conclude key thoughts

Visual aids: pictures, diagrams, charts and graphs, maps, and the like

Vivid language: evokes the senses and is language that arouses the sensations of smelling, tasting, seeing, hearing, and feeling

Vocal enunciation: the pronunciation and expression of words and language

Vocal fillers: fillers including “like, and, so, uh” that disrupt the flow of the sentence

Volume: the relative softness or loudness of one’s voice

Warrant: part of the argument structure that connect the evidence with the claim

Webinar: a meeting or presentation over the Internet


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Speak Out, Call In: Public Speaking as Advocacy Copyright © 2019 by Meggie Mapes is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License, except where otherwise noted.

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