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This is a two part project. The requirements are included in the attached document. The papers must be Arial font size 12 double spaced*Provide a written one minute brief summary at the end of each speech
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Chapter 13
Presentations to Inform
After all, the ultimate goal of all research is not objectivity, but truth.
Helene Deutsch
Getting Started
Storytelling is a basic part of human communication. You’ve probably told several short
stories just today to relate to friends what the drive to school was like, how your partner
has been acting, what your boss said to a customer, or even what your speech teacher
did in class. With each story you were sharing information, but is sharing the same as
informing? At first you might be tempted to say “sure,” but consider whether you had a
purpose for telling a friend about another friend’s actions, or if the words you used to
discuss your boss communicated any attitude.
At some point in your business career you will be called upon to teach someone
something. It may be a customer, coworker, or supervisor, and in each case you are
performing an informative speech. It is distinct from a sales speech, or persuasive
speech, in that your goal is to communicate the information so that your listener
understands. For example, let’s say you have the task of teaching a customer how to use
a remote control (which button does what) to program a DVD/R to record. Easy, you
say? Sure, it’s easy for you. But for them it is new, so take a moment and consider their
perspective. You may recommend this unit versus that unit, and aim for a sale, but that
goal is separate from first teaching them to be successful at a task they want to learn to
perform. You may need to repeat yourself several times, and they may not catch on as
fast as you expect, but their mastery of the skill or task they want to learn can directly
lead to a sale. They will have more confidence in you and in themselves once they’ve
mastered the task, and will be more receptive to your advice about the competing
products available.
While your end goal may be a sale, the relationship you form has more long-term value.
That customer may tell a friend about the experience, show their family what they
learned, and before you know it someone else comes in asking for you by name.
Communicating respect and focusing on their needs is a positive first step. The
informative speech is one performance you’ll give many times across your career,
whether your audience is one person, a small group, or a large auditorium full of
listeners. Once you master the art of the informative speech, you may mix and match it
with other styles and techniques.
13.1 Functions of the Presentation to Inform
LEARNING OBJECTIVES
1. Describe the functions of the speech to inform.
2. Explain the difference between exposition and interpretation.
Informative presentations focus on helping the audience to understand a topic, issue, or
technique more clearly. You might say, “Is that all?” and the answer is both yes and no.
An affirmative response underscores the idea that informative speeches do not seek to
motivate the audience to change their minds, adopt a new idea, start a new habit, or get
out there and vote. They may, however, inform audiences on issues that may be under
consideration in an election or referendum. On the other hand, a negative response
reaffirms the idea that to communicate a topic, issue, or subject clearly is a challenge in
itself and shouldn’t be viewed as a simplistic process. There are distinct functions
inherent in a speech to inform, and you may choose to use one or more of these
functions in your speech. Let’s take a look at the functions and see how they relate to the
central objective of facilitating audience understanding.
Share
The basic definition of communication highlights the process of understanding and
sharing meaning. An informative speech follows this definition in the aspect of sharing
content and information with an audience. You won’t be asking the audience to actually
do anything in terms of offering a response or solving a problem. Instead you’ll be
offering to share with the audience some of the information you have gathered relating
to a topic. This act of sharing will reduce ignorance, increase learning, and facilitate
understanding of your chosen topic.
Increase Understanding
How well does your audience grasp the information? This should be a guiding question
to you on two levels. The first involves what they already know—or don’t know—about
your topic, and what key terms or ideas might be necessary for someone completely
unfamiliar with your topic to grasp the ideas you are presenting. The second involves
your presentation and the illustration of ideas. A bar chart, a pie graph, and a video clip
may all serve you and the audience well, but how will each ingredient in your speech
contribute to their understanding? The audience will respond to your attention
statement and hopefully maintain interest, but how will you take your speech beyond
superficial coverage of content and effectively communicate key relationships that
increase understanding? These questions should serve as a challenge for your
informative speech, and by looking at your speech from an audience-oriented
perspective, you will increase your ability to increase the audience’s understanding.
Change Perceptions
How you perceive stimuli has everything to do with a range of factors that are unique to
you. We all want to make sense of our world, share our experiences, and learn that many
people face the same challenges we do. Many people perceive the process of speaking in
public as a significant challenge, and in this text, we have broken down the process into
several manageable steps. In so doing, we have to some degree changed your perception
of public speaking. When you present your speech to inform, you may want to change
the audience member’s perceptions of your topic. You may present an informative
speech on air pollution and want to change common perceptions such as the idea that
most of North America’s air pollution comes from private cars, or that nuclear power
plants are a major source of air pollution. You won’t be asking people to go out and vote,
or change their choice of automobiles, but you will help your audience change their
perceptions of your topic.
Gain Skills
Just as you want to increase the audience’s understanding, you may want to help the
audience members gain skills. If you are presenting a speech on how to make salsa from
fresh ingredients, your audience may thank you for not only the knowledge of the key
ingredients and their preparation but also the product available at the conclusion. If
your audience members have never made their own salsa, they may gain a new skill
from your speech. In the same way, perhaps you decide to inform your audience about
eBay, a person-to-person marketplace much like a garage sale in which items are
auctioned or available for purchase over the Internet. You may project onto a screen in
class the main Web site and take the audience through a step-by-step process on how to
sell an item. The audience may learn an important skill, clean out the old items in their
garage, and buy new things for the house with their newfound skills. Your intentions, of
course, are not to argue that salsa is better than ketchup or that eBay is better than
Amazon, but to inform the audience, increasing their understanding of the subject, and
in this case, gaining new skills.
Exposition versus Interpretation
When we share information informally, we often provide our own perspective and
attitude for our own reasons. But when we set out to inform an audience, taking sides or
using sarcasm to communicate attitude may divide the audience into groups that agree
or disagree with the speaker. The speech to inform the audience on a topic, idea, or area
of content is not intended to be a display of attitude and opinion. Consider the
expectations of people who attend a formal dinner. Will they use whatever fork or spoon
they want, or are there expectations of protocol and decorum? In any given
communication context there are expectations, both implicit and explicit. If you attend a
rally on campus for health care reform, you may expect the speaker to motivate you to
urge the university to stop investing in pharmaceutical companies, for example. On the
other hand, if you enroll in a biochemistry course, you expect a teacher to inform you
about the discipline of biochemistry—not to convince you that pharmaceutical
companies are a good or bad influence on our health care system.
The speech to inform is like the classroom setting in that the goal is to inform, not to
persuade, entertain, display attitude, or create comedy. If you have analyzed your
audience, you’ll be better prepared to develop appropriate ways to gain their attention
and inform them on your topic. You want to communicate thoughts, ideas, and
relationships and allow each listener specifically, and the audience generally, to draw
their own conclusions. The speech to inform is all about sharing information to meet the
audience’s needs, not your own. While you might want to inform them about your views
on politics in the Middle East, you’ll need to consider what they are here to learn from
you and let your audience-oriented perspective guide you as you prepare.
Exposition
This relationship between informing as opposed to persuading your audience is often
expressed in terms of exposition versus interpretation. Exposition means a public
exhibition or display, often expressing a complex topic in a way that makes the
relationships and content clear. Expository prose is writing to inform; you may have
been asked to write an expository essay in an English course or an expository report in a
journalism course. The goal is to communicate the topic and content to your audience in
ways that illustrate, explain, and reinforce the overall content to make your topic more
accessible to the audience. The audience wants to learn about your topic and may have
some knowledge on it as you do. It is your responsibility to consider ways to display the
information effectively.
Interpretation and Bias
Interpretation involves adapting the information to communicate a message,
perspective, or agenda. Your insights and attitudes will guide your selection of material,
what you focus on, and what you delete (choosing what not to present to the audience).
Your interpretation will involve personal bias. Bias is an unreasoned or not-wellthought-out judgment. Bias involves beliefs or ideas held on the basis of conviction
rather than current evidence. Beliefs are often called “habits of the mind” because we
come to rely on them to make decisions. Which is the better, cheapest, most expensive,
or the middle-priced product? People often choose the middle-priced product and use
the belief “if it costs more it must be better” (and the opposite: “if it is cheap it must not
be very good”). The middle-priced item, regardless of actual price, is often perceived as
“good enough.” All these perceptions are based on beliefs, and they may not apply to the
given decision or even be based on any evidence or rational thinking.
By extension, marketing students learn to facilitate the customer “relationship” with the
brand. If you come to believe a brand stands for excellence, and a new product comes
out under that brand label, you are more likely to choose it over an unknown or lesserknown competitor. Again, your choice of the new product is based on a belief rather
than evidence or rational thinking. We take mental shortcuts all day long, but in our
speech to inform, we have to be careful not to reinforce bias.
Bias is like a filter on your perceptions, thoughts, and ideas. Bias encourages you to
accept positive evidence that supports your existing beliefs (regardless of whether they
are true) and reject negative evidence that does not support your beliefs. Furthermore,
bias makes you likely to reject positive support for opposing beliefs and accept negative
evidence (again, regardless of whether the evidence is true). So what is positive and
what is negative? In a biased frame of mind, that which supports your existing beliefs is
positive and likely to be accepted, while that which challenges your beliefs is likely to be
viewed as negative and rejected. There is the clear danger in bias. You are inclined to
tune out or ignore information, regardless of how valuable, useful, or relevant it may be,
simply because it doesn’t agree with or support what you already believe.
Point of View
Let’s say you are going to present an informative speech on a controversial topic like
same-sex marriage. Without advocating or condemning same-sex marriage, you could
inform your audience about current laws in various states, recent and proposed changes
in laws, the number of same-sex couples who have gotten married in various places, the
implications of being married or not being able to marry, and so on. But as you prepare
and research your topic, do you only read or examine information that supports your
existing view? If you only choose to present information that agrees with your prior
view, you’ve incorporated bias into your speech. Now let’s say the audience members
have different points of view, even biased ones, and as you present your information you
see many people start to fidget in their seats. You can probably anticipate that if they
were to speak, the first word they would say is “but” and then present their question or
assertion. In effect, they will be having a debate with themselves and hardly listening to
you.
You can anticipate the effects of bias and mitigate them to some degree. First, know the
difference between your point of view or perspective and your bias. Your point of view is
your perception of an idea or concept from your previous experience and understanding.
It is unique to you and is influenced by your experiences and also factors like gender,
race, ethnicity, physical characteristics, and social class. Everyone has a point of view, as
hard as they may try to be open-minded. But bias, as we’ve discussed previously,
involves actively selecting information that supports or agrees with your current belief
and takes away from any competing belief. To make sure you are not presenting a biased
speech, frame your discussion to inform from a neutral stance and consider alternative
points of view to present, compare and contrast, and diversify your speech. The goal of
the speech to inform is to present an expository speech that reduces or tries to be free
from overt interpretation.
This relates to our previous discussion on changing perceptions. Clearly no one can be
completely objective and remove themselves from their own perceptual process. People
are not modern works of minimalist art, where form and function are paramount and
the artist is completely removed from the expression. People express themselves and
naturally relate what is happening now to what has happened to them in the past. You
are your own artist, but you also control your creations.
Objectivity involves expressions and perceptions of facts that are free from distortion by
your prejudices, bias, feelings or interpretations. For example, is the post office box
blue? An objective response would be yes or no, but a subjective response might sound
like “Well, it’s not really blue as much as it is navy, even a bit of purple, kind of like the
color of my ex-boyfriend’s car, remember? I don’t care for the color myself.” Subjectivity
involves expressions or perceptions that are modified, altered, or impacted by your
personal bias, experiences, and background. In an informative speech, your audience
will expect you to present the information in a relatively objective form. The speech
should meet the audience’s need as they learn about the content, not your feelings,
attitudes, or commentary on the content. Here are five suggestions to help you present a
neutral speech:
1. Keep your language neutral and not very positive for some issues while very
negative for others.
2. Keep your sources credible and not from biased organizations. The National Rifle
Association (NRA) will have a biased view of the Second Amendment, for
example, as will the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) on civil rights.
3. Keep your presentation balanced. If you use a source that supports one clear side
of an issue, include an alternative source and view. Give each equal time and
respectful consideration.
4. Keep your audience in mind. Not everyone will agree with every point or source
of evidence, but diversity in your speech will have more to offer everyone.
5. Keep who you represent in mind: Your business and yourself.
13.2 Types of Presentations to Inform
LEARNING OBJECTIVE
1. Provide examples of four main types of speech to inform.
Speaking to inform may fall into one of several categories.
Thepresentation to inform may be

an explanation,

a report,

a description, or

a demonstration of how to do something.
Let’s explore each of these types of informative speech.
Explanation
Have you ever listened to a lecture or speech where you just didn’t get it? It wasn’t that
you weren’t interested, at least not at first. Perhaps the professor used language and
jargon, or gave a confusing example, or omitted something that would have linked facts
or concepts together. Soon you probably lost interest and sat there, attending the speech
or lecture in body but certainly not in mind. An effective speech to inform will take a
complex topic or issue andexplain it to the audience in ways that increase audience
understanding. Perhaps the speech where you felt lost lacked definitions upfront, or a
clear foundation in the introduction. You certainly didn’t learn much, and that’s exactly
what you want to avoid when you address your audience. Consider how you felt and
then find ways to explain your topic—visually, using definitions and examples, providing
a case study—that can lay a foundation on common ground with your audience and
build on it.
No one likes to feel left out. As the speaker, it’s your responsibility to ensure that this
doesn’t happen. Also know that to teach someone something new—perhaps a skill that
they did not posses or a perspective that allows them to see new connections—is a real
gift, both to you and the audience members. You will feel rewarded because you made a
difference and they will perceive the gain in their own understanding.
Report
As a business communicator, you may be called upon to give an informative report
where you communicate status, trends, or relationships that pertain to a specific topic.
You might have only a few moments to speak, and you may have to prepare within a
tight time frame. Your listeners may want “just the highlights,” only to ask pointed
questions that require significant depth and preparation on your part. The informative
report is a speech where you organize your information around key events, discoveries,
or technical data and provide context and illustration for your audience. They may
naturally wonder, “Why are sales up (or down)?” or “What is the product leader in your
lineup?” and you need to anticipate their perspective and present the key information
that relates to your topic. If everyone in the room knows the product line, you may not
need much information about your best seller, but instead place emphasis on marketing
research that seems to indicate why it is the best seller.
Perhaps you are asked to be the scout and examine a new market, developing strategies
to penetrate it. You’ll need to orient your audience and provide key information about
the market and demonstrate leadership as you articulate your strategies. You have a
perspective gained by time and research, and your audience wants to know why you see
things the way you do, as well as learn what you learned. A status report may be short or
long, and may be an update that requires little …
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