Chapter 4: Developing and Supporting Your Ideas
Read the Fine Print!
“So, Dave, I hear that you’ve found the deal of the century! A week in Mexico for 299 bucks! I wish I’d known about that Website, too. I might not be spending my Spring Break at home, helping my mom paint the house.”
“Yeah, well, remember that old saying, ‘Everything is not always what it seems’? I am proof that whoever said that knew what they were talking about–he probably got scammed, too. I found out too late that the Website I used to find that vacation isn’t legit. I’m out $299, and I’ll be spending my break at home with my parents as well. Probably working with my dad to try to recoup the money I lost.”
“Are you kidding? How did you find out that the site was bogus?”
“Well, after I wired the money, I was told that I would receive my ticket and my vacation packet the next day. When that didn’t show up three days later, I went back to the Website to find out what the delay was. When I typed in the address, I got redirected to the Maryland Attorney General’s Webpage. Apparently, there have been a lot of complaints against this site, and it’s been shut down. The Attorney General’s office wants anyone who’s paid money to this company to contact them, so they can compile a case against this company.”
“Man, that’s a bummer. But if they’ve been doing this to lots of other people, you’d think that your background check for the company would have revealed it. What did the Better Business Bureau say about the company? No complaints? Or what about the student center here on campus? Hadn’t any other students complained?”
“I didn’t do any checking. Everything looked fine. They had testimonials from ‘satisfied customers’ and some cool pictures of the resort and the beach. And it said there were only a couple of spots left, so I had to wire the money immediately. I’m an idiot!”
“Well, yeah, I hate to say it, but you are. Don’t you know enough to do a little research before you plunk down cold, hard cash? Just because the Website looks legit doesn’t mean I wouldn’t check it out first.”
“Okay, okay, message received. Lesson learned! I won’t be quite as gullible next time. Let’s talk about something else–something positive. Did you see the announcement in the campus newspaper that the college is going to shut down two days early for Spring Break? I can hardly wait. After this fiasco, I need some good news.”
“Umm, Dave, I hate to be the one to tell you this but that story about extra days for the break is not true. Apparently, it was in the April 1st edition of the campus newspaper, and it was just a prank for April Fools’ Day. Didn’t you read the disclaimer on the last page saying that this was a ‘special’ edition and that none of it was actually true? Dude, I worry about you. I’m beginning to believe that you need a full-time babysitter . . . ”
Do you think Dave is gullible? Regardless of your opinion on the matter, the above scenario provides some sound advice. If you want to be an informed consumer, you must do your research. It is important to research just about anything these days if you want to be a smart consumer. The same applies to your presentations. You’ve already seen how much preparation is needed to get started. You need to analyze your audience, figure out your purpose, choose a topic, and determine which main ideas you’ll use for the thesis of your speech.
This module will take you one step further. How will you support your main ideas? What will you say to your audience to back up your arguments? You’ll need to find and develop details, examples, and facts that will prove your point or convince your listeners. We call these details, examples, facts, and illustrations your supporting materials. Effective supporting material, or supports, lets your audience know that you have conducted research to flesh out your main points. They want to know that you have thoroughly investigated, that you know pertinent facts and details about your subject, and that you have considered their interests and concerns while preparing to speak. This helps to give you credibility because a smart listener is trying to determine whether s/he can trust what you say and what your research says–in essence, can I rely on this speaker’s knowledge and character?
This module will provide you with information about gathering supporting material for your presentation so that you can develop your initial ideas into carefully considered and researched points that will inform your audience and reveal the time and effort you have taken to make your presentation insightful and credible.
Upon completion of this module, the student will be able to:
- Select research and supporting material for your presentation
- Describe the value of valid and reliable sources to help create speaker credibility
- Distinguish between the five types of supporting materials
- Evaluate sources using three basic criteria
You can’t always accept everything you hear or read. Facts can be twisted, actions can be misinterpreted, and sometimes people make mistakes. You cannot accept that everything you uncover during your research is true; it is your job to ensure that your source is reliable and valid. Include a variety of supporting materials in your speech. Tell a story; then cite a statistic or a fact. Using several types of supports makes your speech interesting and appeals to the needs of different listeners. Some want to hear the human interest aspect while others need logical, factual information.
To persuade your audience that you are credible, you must be able to assure them that you have used trusted sources and that you have factual information. Take a look at the author. Who is this person? Who do they work for? How much knowledge do they have in this area? Pay attention to the issue of recency. Is this data current? Have new studies discovered better solutions or treatments?
And finally, remember to double-check the integrity of your sources. Is there anything about this source that bothers you? Are you concerned that this source is profiting from the information? Does this source have personal issues that could affect the veracity of the information? By asking these types of questions as you gather your research and collect your supporting material, you ensure that you have done your best to bring valid, reliable information to your listeners. Your audience can trust your credibility. They can trust your sources and your supporting details. They can trust you.