Speech Study Guide

5.5 Types of Evidence Effective speakers use multiple types of evidence. When speakers utilize a variety of evidence, they appear to be more interesting and convincing. Speakers may use facts, definitions, statistics, examples, testimony, or comparison and contrast. Facts are data that can be verified by observation and are used by nearly every speaker. Factual information can be judged for being factual, correct or incorrect, verified or unverified, and simply true or false. Many speakers take certain facts and misinterpret them to support their claim. As such, it is crucial for a speaker to look at how a fact is labeled or described. In order to ensure facts are sound, a speaker must validate them by consulting multiple credible sources. If a speaker encounters inconsistencies, they should keep searching for more credible and reliable data. Definitions are used to define a word or concept and can be straightforward or provide uncontroversial information. They also challenge the audience to think in new and/or creative ways. Definitions can be persuasive and informative, or reflect an individual’s perspective on a controversial subject. A speaker wants their audience to take into account their definition. Statistics are empirical bits of data that are quantifiable and verifiable. Speakers may rely too heavily on statistics and overwhelm listeners. In order for statistics to be effective, a speaker has to make every attempt to present the information clearly and meaningfully. It may serve a speaker to translate a statistic into more specific or more personal terms. Due to statistics changing rapidly, all statistical evidence should be as up-to-date as possible. Statistical data should be used cautiously. Speakers may face many challenges, such as trying to make general principles or abstract notions interesting and meaningful to an audience. Examples provide concrete illustrations and interject life and meaning into the ideas a speaker is communicating; they can also function as compelling evidence. There are multiple types of examples: actual examples, narratives as actual examples, hypothetical examples, and narratives as hypothetical examples. Speakers should also think critically about their examples. Actual examples deal with real cases, something that actually happened. Even a brief example can make a point more vivid and memorable. These types of examples not only give an audience a more concrete understanding of some problem, but they can also help an audience imagine a solution. After hearing actual examples an audience may understand the form an abstract idea may take. Narrative examples are extended examples from a speaker’s research or their own experiences. When an audience identifies with a speaker, they respond better to the speaker’s propositions. Hypothetical examples are examples that are plausibly real, but not actually true or empirically verifiable. Despite these examples being “made-up” they should not be overused or grossly exaggerated; they need to be realistic enough to be effective. Narratives as hypothetical examples involve speakers using proverbs, stories, or folktales to illustrate an idea or make a compelling point. These examples rely on an audience’s imagination or cultural symbols to convey a moral or lesson,


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