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COMM 111 Communication in Society: Research for Informative Assignments

General Information

News Sources


The Legwork Behind the Speech

President Barack Obama


There are some processes the speech giver must complete prior to delivering a quality speech. A summary of the steps is provided below:

A. Audience analysis

Prior to conducting research, drafting, and delivering the speech the speech giver must understand his or her audience. Is the audience well-informed, is the audience naive (i.e., the audience members have no prior experience with or knowledge of the topic), is the audience friendly (shares similar views as the speech giver), or is the audience hostile (beliefs/preconceptions of the speech giver differ from those of the audience). Understanding the audience helps the speech giver know how much, how little, and what kind of information to present.

B. Research Strategy

  • Budget your time : understand that a quality speech is not created the night before it is delivered
  • Get to know your library : what resources are available to you to assist in locating and collecting the information you need to create your speech
  • Include a librarian in your research plan : librarians can provide guidance in narrowing a topic so that it's more manageable, as well as to locate credible resources
  • Let your topic be your guide : with the explosion of information, it is extremely easy to get sidetracked on tangents; stay true to your topic, and isolate resources that relate only to your topic
  • Identify key terms/phrases in computerized catalogs (Primo), databases, or the Open Web
  • Identify experts in the the field (if possible)
  • Make critical evaluation a part of your plan from the start; review all information with a critical mind (what do you already know about the topic, how does the information you found relate/compare to/contrast with that knowledge, what are the credentials of the author, how current is the information?)
  • Keep a running list of sources as you search (create a research folder in EBSCOhost), or create a Word Doc to create a working bibliography : it is helpful to include a brief annotation with each reference -- what is the item about, why did you find this resource helpful?
  • Use a variety of sources (primary and secondary; trade/professional, scholarly, popular)

C. Understanding the Purpose of the Informative Speech

  • Understand what your audience may or may not already know about the given topic; or, what preconceptions or misconceptions the audience may have. This is part of the audience analysis process.
  • What is the role of the informative speech? The informative speech may serve a variety of purposes, including the dissemination of new information, providing the audience with supplemental information already recieved, reviewing or updating information, or countering misinformation.

D. Types of Informative Speeches (Chapter 16)

  • Demonstrations/Instructional ("how-to")
  • Descriptions (places, things/objects, events)
  • Reports (persons, current issues)
  • Concept explanation (defining terms, explanations)

*Jaffe, Clella. Public Speaking: Concepts and Skills for a Diverse Society. 5th ed. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2007. Print.