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Chapter 1: The Speech Communication Process

The Speech Communication Process

  • Listener(s)


As you might imagine, the speaker is the crucial first element within the speech communication process. Without a speaker, there is no process.  The  speaker  is simply the person who is delivering, or presenting, the speech.  A speaker might be someone who is training employees in your workplace. Your professor is another example of a public speaker as s/he gives a lecture. Even a stand-up comedian can be considered a public speaker. After all, each of these people is presenting an oral message to an audience in a public setting. Most speakers, however, would agree that the listener is one of the primary reasons that they speak.

The listener is just as important as the speaker; neither one is effective without the other.  The  listener  is the person or persons who have assembled to hear the oral message.  Some texts might even call several listeners an “audience. ” The listener generally forms an opinion as to the effectiveness of the speaker and the validity of the speaker’s message based on what they see and hear during the presentation. The listener’s job sometimes includes critiquing, or evaluating, the speaker’s style and message. You might be asked to critique your classmates as they speak or to complete an evaluation of a public speaker in another setting. That makes the job of the listener extremely important. Providing constructive feedback to speakers often helps the speaker improve her/his speech tremendously.

Another crucial element in the speech process is the message.  The  message  is what the speaker is discussing or the ideas that s/he is presenting to you as s/he covers a particular topic.  The important chapter concepts presented by your professor become the message during a lecture. The commands and steps you need to use, the new software at work, are the message of the trainer as s/he presents the information to your department. The message might be lengthy, such as the President’s State of the Union address, or fairly brief, as in a five-minute presentation given in class.

The  channel  is the means by which the message is sent or transmitted.  Different channels are used to deliver the message, depending on the communication type or context. For instance, in mass communication, the channel utilized might be a television or radio broadcast. The use of a cell phone is an example of a channel that you might use to send a friend a message in interpersonal communication. However, the channel typically used within public speaking is the speaker’s voice, or more specifically, the sound waves used to carry the voice to those listening. You could watch a prerecorded speech or one accessible on YouTube, and you might now say the channel is the television or your computer. This is partially true. However, the speech would still have no value if the speaker’s voice was not present, so in reality, the channel is now a combination of the two -the speaker’s voice broadcast through an electronic source.

The context is a bit more complicated than the other elements we have discussed so far. The context is more than one specific component. For example, when you give a speech in your classroom, the classroom, or  the physical location of your speech, is part of the context  . That’s probably the easiest part of context to grasp.

But you should also consider that the  people in your audience expect you to behave in a certain manner, depending on the physical location or the occasion of the presentation  . If you gave a toast at a wedding, the audience wouldn’t be surprised if you told a funny story about the couple or used informal gestures such as a high-five or a slap on the groom’s back. That would be acceptable within the expectations of your audience, given the occasion. However, what if the reason for your speech was the presentation of a eulogy at a loved one’s funeral? Would the audience still find a high-five or humor as acceptable in that setting? Probably not. So the expectations of your audience must be factored into context as well.

The cultural rules -often unwritten and sometimes never formally communicated to us -are also a part of the context. Depending on your culture, you would probably agree that there are some “rules ” typically adhered to by those attending a funeral. In some cultures, mourners wear dark colors and are somber and quiet. In other cultures, grieving out loud or beating one’s chest to show extreme grief is traditional. Therefore,  the rules from our culture  -no matter what they are -play a part in the context as well.

Every speaker hopes that her/his speech is clearly understood by the audience. However, there are times when some obstacle gets in the way of the message and interferes with the listener’s ability to hear what’s being said.  This is  interference  , or you might have heard it referred to as “noise. ”  Every speaker must prepare and present with the assumption that interference is likely to be present in the speaking environment.

Interference can be mental, physical, or physiological.  Mental interference  occurs when the listener is not fully focused on what s/he is hearing due to her/his own thoughts.  If you’ve ever caught yourself daydreaming in class during a lecture, you’re experiencing mental interference. Your own thoughts are getting in the way of the message.

A second form of interference is  physical interference  . This is noise in the literal sense -someone coughing behind you during a speech or the sound of a mower outside the classroom window. You may be unable to hear the speaker because of the surrounding environmental noises.

The last form of interference is  physiological  . This type of interference occurs when your body is responsible for the blocked signals. A deaf person, for example, has the truest form of physiological interference; s/he may have varying degrees of difficulty hearing the message. If you’ve ever been in a room that was too cold or too hot and found yourself not paying attention, you’re experiencing physiological interference. Your bodily discomfort distracts from what is happening around you.

The final component within the speech process is feedback. While some might assume that the speaker is the only one who sends a message during a speech, the reality is that the  listeners in the audience are sending a message of their own, called  feedback  .  Often this is how the speaker knows if s/he is sending an effective message. Occasionally the feedback from listeners comes in verbal form – questions from the audience or an angry response from a listener about a key point presented. However, in general, feedback during a presentation is typically non-verbal -a student nodding her/his head in agreement or a confused look from an audience member. An observant speaker will scan the audience for these forms of feedback, but keep in mind that non-verbal feedback is often more difficult to spot and to decipher. For example, is a yawn a sign of boredom, or is it simply a tired audience member?

Generally, all of the above elements are present during a speech. However, you might wonder what the process would look like if we used a diagram to illustrate it. Initially, some students think of public speaking as a linear process -the speaker sending a message to the listener -a simple, straight line. But if you’ll think about the components we’ve just covered, you begin to see that a straight line cannot adequately represent the process, when we add listener feedback into the process. The listener is sending her/his own message back to the speaker, so perhaps the process might better be represented as circular. Add in some interference and place the example in context, and you have a more complete idea of the speech process.

Fundamentals of Public Speaking Copyright © by Lumen Learning is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Structuring the Speech

Organizing speeches serves two important functions. First, organization helps improve clarity of thought in a systematic way. Second, organization increases the likelihood that the speech will be effective

Audiences are unlikely to understand disorganized speeches and even less likely to think that disorganized speakers are reliable or credible. Speeches are organized into three main parts: introduction, body, and conclusion.


The introduction of the speech establishes the first, crucial contact between the speaker and the audience. For most classroom speeches, the introduction should last less than a minute. The introduction needs to accomplish three things:

Focus your audience's attention. Speakers must have an “attention grabber” to interest the audience—a joke, astonishing fact, or anecdote. (Rhetorical questions like “Haven’t you ever wondered how…” are notoriously ineffective.) The introduction is the place where the main claim or idea should be stated very clearly to give the audience a sense of the purpose of the speech. Speakers need to orient the audience and make connections between what they know or are already interested in and the speech topic.

Establish goodwill and credibility. Many people believe the most important part of persuasion was ethos, or the character the speaker exhibited to the audience. The audience needs to see the speaker as someone to listen to attentively and sympathetically. Ethos is generated by both delivery style and content of the speech. Making eye contact with the audience and displaying confidence in voice and body are two important ways to establish ethos. In addition, if you express ideas that are original and intelligent, you will show what “intellectual character.” Audiences pay attention to habits of thought that are interesting and worth listening to.

Give a preview. Mentioning the main points to be covered in the body prepares the audience to listen for them. Repetition is an important aspect of public speaking, for listening is an imperfect art, and audience members nearly always tune out in parts--sometimes to think about previous parts of the speech, sometimes for other reasons. The preview should end with a transition, a brief phrase or a pause to signal to the audience that the speech is moving out of the introduction and into the body.

The body follows and is itself structured by a mode of organization, a logical or culturally specific pattern of thinking about ideas, events, objects, and processes. Having a mode of organization means grouping similar material together and linking the component parts together with transitions. Good transitions show the relation between parts of a speech. They display the logic of the speech. Common transition phrases include: in addition to, furthermore, even more, next, after that, then, as a result, beyond that, in contrast, however, and on the other hand. One special type of transition is called the internal summary, a brief restatement of the main point being completed.

In the body, the fewer the main points the better. For short classroom speeches, under 10 minutes, speeches should not have more than three main points. For longer speeches, more than five main points ensures that audiences will have trouble following and remembering the speech. In the speech, main points should be clearly stated and "signposted," marked off as distinct and important to the audience. Transitions often serve to signpost new points, as do pauses before an important idea. Additionally, speakers might number main points—first, second, third or first, next, finally. Always make it easy for the audience to recognize and follow key ideas.

There are several common modes of organizing the information in the body of your speech:

Temporal organization groups information according to when it happened or will happen. Types of temporal patterns include chronological (in the sequence it occurred) and reverse chronological (from ending back to start). Inquiry order is one special mode of temporal organization useful in presenting some kinds of research: here you organize the body in accord with the unfolding processes of thinking and gathering data, taking the audience from the initial curiosity and questions to final results.

Cause-effect is a related mode of organization, showing how one event brings about another. Cause-effect, like other temporal modes, may be used for past, present, or future events and processes. Cause-effect can also be reversed, from effect back to cause.

Spatial patterns group and organize your speech based on physical arrangement of its parts. If a speech is describing a place, a physical object, or a process of movement--downtown Mercer, a plant cell, or the Battle of Shiloh--spatial patterns can be useful.

Topical designs are appropriate when the subject matter has clear categories of division. Government in the United States, for instance, falls into federal, state, and local categories; or into executive, legislative, and judicial branches; into elected and appointed officials. Categories like these can help divide the subject matter to organize the main points.

Compare/contrast takes two or more entities and draws attention to their differences and/or similarities. Sometimes speakers explain a difficult subject by comparing it with an easier, more accessible one--to explain nuclear fusion with the stages of high school romance, for instance. The use of analogies often assists in audience understanding.

Following a transition from the body of the speech, the conclusion follows. The conclusion should be somewhat shorter than the introduction and accomplishes two purposes: summarize main ideas and give the speech a sense of closure and completion. Good conclusions might refer back to the introduction, offer an analogy or metaphor that captures the main idea, or leave the audience with a question or a challenge of some type. Brief quotations can also make effective conclusions (just as they can make effective openings for introductions).

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Chapter 4: Communication

Eight Essential Components of Communication

In order to better understand the communication process, we can break it down into a series of eight essential components:



Each of these eight components serves an integral function in the overall process. Let’s explore them one by one.

The source imagines, creates, and sends the message. In a public speaking situation, the source is the person giving the speech. He or she conveys the message by sharing new information with the audience. The speaker also conveys a message through his or her tone of voice, body language, and choice of clothing. The speaker begins by first determining the message—what to say and how to say it. The second step involves encoding the message by choosing just the right order or the perfect words to convey the intended meaning. The third step is to present or send the information to the receiver or audience. Finally, by watching for the audience’s reaction, the source perceives how well they received the message and responds with clarification or supporting information.

The message is the stimulus or meaning produced by the source for the receiver or audience.” (McLean, 2005) When you plan to give a speech or write a report, your message may seem to be only the words you choose that will convey your meaning. But that is just the beginning. The words are brought together with grammar and organization. You may choose to save your most important point for last. The message also consists of the way you say it—in a speech, with your tone of voice, your body language, and your appearance—and in a report, with your writing style, punctuation, and the headings and formatting you choose. In addition, part of the message may be the environment or context you present it in and the noise that might make your message hard to hear or see.

Imagine, for example, that you are addressing a large audience of sales reps and are aware there is a World Series game tonight. Your audience might have a hard time settling down, but you may choose to open with, “I understand there is an important game tonight.” In this way, by expressing verbally something that most people in your audience are aware of and interested in, you might grasp and focus their attention.

“The channel is the way in which a message or messages travel between source and receiver.” (McLean, 2005) For example, think of your television. How many channels do you have on your television? Each channel takes up some space, even in a digital world, in the cable or in the signal that brings the message of each channel to your home. Television combines an audio signal you hear with a visual signal you see. Together they convey the message to the receiver or audience. Turn off the volume on your television. Can you still understand what is happening? Many times you can, because the body language conveys part of the message of the show. Now turn up the volume but turn around so that you cannot see the television. You can still hear the dialogue and follow the story line.

Similarly, when you speak or write, you are using a channel to convey your message. Spoken channels include face-to-face conversations, speeches, telephone conversations and voice mail messages, radio, public address systems, and voice over Internet protocol (VoIP). Written channels include letters, memorandums, purchase orders, invoices, newspaper and magazine articles, blogs, e-mail, text messages, tweets, and so forth.

“The receiver receives the message from the source, analyzing and interpreting the message in ways both intended and unintended by the source.” (McLean, 2005) To better understand this component, think of a receiver on a football team. The quarterback throws the football (message) to a receiver, who must see and interpret where to catch the ball. The quarterback may intend for the receiver to “catch” his message in one way, but the receiver may see things differently and miss the football (the intended meaning) altogether.

As a receiver you listen, see, touch, smell, and/or taste to receive a message. Your audience “sizes you up,” much as you might check them out long before you take the stage or open your mouth. The nonverbal responses of your listeners can serve as clues on how to adjust your opening. By imagining yourself in their place, you anticipate what you would look for if you were them. Just as a quarterback plans where the receiver will be in order to place the ball correctly, you too can recognize the interaction between source and receiver in a business communication context. All of this happens at the same time, illustrating why and how communication is always changing.

When you respond to the source, intentionally or unintentionally, you are giving feedback. Feedback is composed of messages the receiver sends back to the source. Verbal or nonverbal, all these feedback signals allow the source to see how well, how accurately (or how poorly and inaccurately) the message was received. Feedback also provides an opportunity for the receiver or audience to ask for clarification, to agree or disagree, or to indicate that the source could make the message more interesting. As the amount of feedback increases, the accuracy of communication also increases (Leavitt & Mueller, 1951).

For example, suppose you are a sales manager participating in a conference call with four sales reps. As the source, you want to tell the reps to take advantage of the fact that it is World Series season to close sales on baseball-related sports gear. You state your message, but you hear no replies from your listeners. You might assume that this means they understood and agreed with you, but later in the month you might be disappointed to find that very few sales were made. If you followed up your message with a request for feedback (“Does this make sense? Do any of you have any questions?”) you might have an opportunity to clarify your message, and to find out whether any of the sales reps believed your suggestion would not work with their customers.

“The environment is the atmosphere, physical and psychological, where you send and receive messages.” (McLean, 2005) The environment can include the tables, chairs, lighting, and sound equipment that are in the room. The room itself is an example of the environment. The environment can also include factors like formal dress, that may indicate whether a discussion is open and caring or more professional and formal. People may be more likely to have an intimate conversation when they are physically close to each other, and less likely when they can only see each other from across the room. In that case, they may text each other, itself an intimate form of communication. The choice to text is influenced by the environment. As a speaker, your environment will impact and play a role in your speech. It’s always a good idea to go check out where you’ll be speaking before the day of the actual presentation.

“The context of the communication interaction involves the setting, scene, and expectations of the individuals involved.” (McLean, 2005) A professional communication context may involve business suits (environmental cues) that directly or indirectly influence expectations of language and behavior among the participants.

A presentation or discussion does not take place as an isolated event. When you came to class, you came from somewhere. So did the person seated next to you, as did the instructor. The degree to which the environment is formal or informal depends on the contextual expectations for communication held by the participants. The person sitting next to you may be used to informal communication with instructors, but this particular instructor may be used to verbal and nonverbal displays of respect in the academic environment. You may be used to formal interactions with instructors as well, and find your classmate’s question of “Hey Teacher, do we have homework today?” as rude and inconsiderate when they see it as normal. The nonverbal response from the instructor will certainly give you a clue about how they perceive the interaction, both the word choices and how they were said.

Context is all about what people expect from each other, and we often create those expectations out of environmental cues. Traditional gatherings like weddings or quinceañeras are often formal events. There is a time for quiet social greetings, a time for silence as the bride walks down the aisle, or the father may have the first dance with his daughter as she is transformed from a girl to womanhood in the eyes of her community. In either celebration there may come a time for rambunctious celebration and dancing. You may be called upon to give a toast, and the wedding or quinceañera context will influence your presentation, timing, and effectiveness.

In a business meeting, who speaks first? That probably has some relation to the position and role each person has outside the meeting. Context plays a very important role in communication, particularly across cultures.

Interference, also called noise, can come from any source. Interference is anything that blocks or changes the source’s intended meaning of the message.”(McLean, 2005) For example, if you drove a car to work or school, chances are you were surrounded by noise. Car horns, billboards, or perhaps the radio in your car interrupted your thoughts, or your conversation with a passenger.

Psychological noise is what happens when your thoughts occupy your attention while you are hearing, or reading, a message. Imagine that it is 4:45 p.m. and your boss, who is at a meeting in another city, e-mails you asking for last month’s sales figures, an analysis of current sales projections, and the sales figures from the same month for the past five years. You may open the e-mail, start to read, and think, “Great—no problem—I have those figures and that analysis right here in my computer.” You fire off a reply with last month’s sales figures and the current projections attached. Then, at five o’clock, you turn off your computer and go home. The next morning, your boss calls on the phone to tell you he was inconvenienced because you neglected to include the sales figures from the previous years. What was the problem? Interference: by thinking about how you wanted to respond to your boss’s message, you prevented yourself from reading attentively enough to understand the whole message.

Interference can come from other sources, too. Perhaps you are hungry, and your attention to your current situation interferes with your ability to listen. Maybe the office is hot and stuffy. If you were a member of an audience listening to an executive speech, how could this impact your ability to listen and participate?

Noise interferes with normal encoding and decoding of the message carried by the channel between source and receiver. Not all noise is bad, but noise interferes with the communication process. For example, your cell phone ringtone may be a welcome noise to you, but it may interrupt the communication process in class and bother your classmates.

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Methods for Stress Management Copyright © 2017 by Allen Urich is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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Role of Communication in Effective Public Speaking

Role of Communication in Effective Public Speaking

Public speaking is something that almost everyone experiences at some point in their lives. It might be giving an important presentation at work, or it might be standing up to give your graduation speech at college. Public speaking can be terrifying, but it doesn’t have to be so bad! You just need to know the ins and outs of confidence in public speaking so that you’ll know what to expect and how to perform better when the time comes for you to stand up in front of people and deliver an important speech or presentation.

10 Roles of Communication in Effective Public Speaking

1) attention.

Public speaking can be a nerve-wracking experience, but it is also a great opportunity to share your thoughts with the world. You can use public speaking as an opportunity to express your views and opinions to a group or audience, and you can use it as an educational tool for others. To make sure that you can effectively communicate during public speaking, there are many different things that you will want to do such as knowing how the speech should be organized, using gestures appropriately, maintaining eye contact with the audience, projecting your voice well, and more.

The following are the roles of communication in effective public speaking:

  • Knowing how to organize the speech so that it flows from one point to another smoothly.
  • Using gestures appropriately so that they convey meaning without distracting from what is being said.
  • Maintaining eye contact with the audience, which shows interest in them and helps keep attention on the speaker.
  • Projecting one's voice well so that people who are further away can hear what is being said easily.
  • Using pauses effectively by inserting them after every thought or sentence is spoken rather than rushing through everything quickly not only makes people wait longer before they get their turn to speak but also creates confusion when they don't know where a sentence started and ended.

2) Distraction

We all know that public speaking is not an easy task. It takes great preparation, incredible content, and a lot of confidence to be successful. Many distractions can make the speaker lose his or her audience, but here are the top 10 ways for a speaker to avoid distractions:

Preparation - Preparation is key to delivering a successful presentation. A lot of time should be spent on creating an outline and practicing it until it flows easily from one point to the next.

Confidence is also essential for delivering a successful speech. The more confident you are, the less likely you will be distracted by doubts or fear about what others might think about your presentation.

3) Interest

Communication is the most important aspect when it comes to public speaking. The audience needs to feel engaged and be able to understand what you're saying for your speech to be effective.

Here are the roles of communication that are essential for effective public speaking:

  • Confidence - the audience needs to know that you believe in what you're talking about so they'll believe it too.
  • Vocabulary - having a good vocabulary will allow the speaker to use more words, which will keep the listener interested.
  • Gestures - gesturing makes your speech engaging and helps make your point stand out.
  • Voice - speaking loudly with proper volume is imperative.
  • Eye contact - eye contact allows the speaker to maintain focus on their listeners and vice versa, while also adding intensity to their message.
  • Pacing - slowing down or speeding up your pace can emphasize different parts of your speech or create suspenseful moments.
  • Clarity - this includes being able to speak as well as avoiding superfluous sounds like um and uh.
  • Breathing - this may seem obvious but you need to make sure you don't run out of breath during your speech!
  • Pauses- taking pauses keeps things from getting monotonous by giving the audience a chance for reflection.

4) Get Involved

Effective  public speaking communication relies on the speaker's ability to use both verbal and nonverbal communication. Verbal communication includes vocal quality, volume, rate, and articulation.

Nonverbal communication refers to gestures, posture, facial expressions, and eye contact. To create an engaging presentation that maintains the audience's attention span, a speaker must combine these two types of communication.

They also need to think about their goals for the speech, then develop their content accordingly. They should practice giving their speech beforehand so they are familiar with it and have time to work out any problems.

When delivering their speech, they should engage the audience by asking questions or inviting them to participate. Finally, when they finish speaking they should summarize what was discussed so that listeners understand how it relates to their lives.

5) Communicate Often

Effective  public speaking communication is about more than just what you say. It's also about how you say it. Many factors go into making a successful presentation, including the visual and physical aspects, but without effective communication, your audience will not follow along with your message. Effective communication is essential to any good speaker.

Many elements go into an effective public speaking performance, but without effective communication, everything else falls apart. For example, if a speaker cannot communicate effectively visually or physically for example through gestures.

Good speakers must also be able to communicate verbally for the speech to have an impact on their listeners and convey their message successfully.

Effective  public speaking communication is more than just what you say. It also includes how you listen, your facial expressions, and your body language. To be an effective speaker, you must be able to communicate with the audience through all these channels. In other words, if you're giving a presentation and it's not very interesting to watch or listen to (due to poor body language or worse), chances are that it won't be very interesting for your audience either. Here are some tips on how to effectively communicate with your audience:

First and foremost, always remember that there is an audience out there listening and watching every move you make. Remembering this will help keep you focused on what they need and want from the presentation rather than what you think they should get from it. -Next, practice making eye contact with the audience when talking about something important so that they know you care about them hearing about it.

Furthermore, use a range of different gestures during your speech such as pointing at people and using hand motions to show what you mean when talking about complex topics.

Additionally, avoid using filler phrases like um or like while speaking as they can give off a lackadaisical attitude.

Moreover, talk slower than normal to ensure comprehension by those who might not  understand English fluently .

Finally, focus on changing up your voice inflection depending on the topic being discussed, and always smile!

7) Feedback

The first step to  improving public speaking skills is to connect with your audience. When delivering a speech, it is important that you have eye contact with those listening to you and that you speak at a volume that they can hear.

Some people tend to speak too loudly when they are nervous, but this makes it difficult for their audience to listen. In addition, if you do not appear engaged with your topic and your audience, then your speech will likely lack impact.

The second step to  improving public speaking skills is clarity. It is important that every word spoken be clearly understood by the listener so that he or she may follow along without distraction or confusion. The third role is charisma. To make an effective speech, one must be able to captivate their listeners. Charisma is what sets some speakers apart from others.

A speaker’s ability to convince their listeners of an idea, entertain them with humor, or even just keep them interested through compelling storytelling are all forms of charisma. The fourth role is emotionality. A good public speaker needs to know how best to convey emotion during his or her speech to maintain interest in what he/she has to say and also because strong emotion tends to evoke strong emotions from the audience as well.

Communication is an essential component of effective public speaking. Effective public speakers create messages that are clear, concise, and persuasive. They do this by using the following roles of communication:

Communication is a process between two or more people.

  • Effective communicators take responsibility for their messages.
  • Effective communicators acknowledge their audiences' cultural and social backgrounds.
  • Effective communicators create messages that are clear, concise, and persuasive. -Effective communicators use a variety of communication skills to deliver their messages with clarity and credibility.
  • Effective communicators listen actively and ask questions when they don't understand what's being said.
  • Effective communicators communicate openly about difficult topics in ways that are respectful to all parties involved.

9) Speak Clearly

To effectively communicate, you need to make sure you are speaking clearly and using language that your audience will understand. Speak at a normal volume and enunciate words so people can understand what you are saying.

If you have an accent, speak slowly so people can easily comprehend your message. If English is not your first language, try to use a translator or a professional interpreter. You should also avoid making any grammatical mistakes as this will only confuse listeners.

Be aware of how the tone of your voice impacts the meaning behind the words you are speaking; for example, if you sound angry people might think that what you're saying is important when it may just be about something trivial. However, if you sound sad then people might take your words more seriously because they assume that the emotion means that you are telling them something important.

Similarly, eye contact is important because it allows both parties to read one another's expressions. A lack of eye contact can cause a speaker's emotions to go unread which can result in an ineffective communication process.

Eye contact shows empathy and understanding which strengthens relationships with others (Edelman). It's also easier for listeners to concentrate on what someone is saying when they maintain eye contact rather than looking around everywhere else (Howcast).

10) Practice

Public speaking is a valuable and important skill for everyone, but it's not easy. To be an effective public speaker, you need to be able to use different types of communication. You can't just rely on one or two; you need all ten!

The words coming out of your mouth are the backbone of any speech. This means your voice needs to be clear and audible enough so that the audience can hear you. You also need to speak at a pace that allows the audience time to process what they're hearing. Plus, if you're reading from a script, make sure that it's easy for people to read and follow along with what you're saying.

Ten to take your public speaking from boring to bone-chilling

The ability to speak confidently in front of an audience can be an incredibly valuable skill – whether you're trying to win over new clients, pitch investors, or just make some people laugh at your office Christmas party.

While it’s one of the most important skills you could ever master, public speaking can be a daunting prospect for anyone who doesn’t practice it often enough. Here are ten tips to take your public speaking from boring to bone-chilling in no time at all!

Start with a bang

The ability to speak in front of an audience is a skill that many people lack. It is for this reason that we have put together some tips on how you can go about improving the quality of your public speaking and making it something people want to listen to.

#1: Know what you're talking about - The best speakers are those who know the topic they are discussing inside and out, or at least enough so they can provide an informed opinion.

#2: Give a purpose - You don't just want to talk at people, you want them to do something afterward so give them a call to action!

#3: Be emotional - If you want people's attention, use emotion instead of facts and figures.

Use strong body language

One of the best ways to make a speech more memorable is by using strong body language. Research has shown that people tend to remember what they see, not just what they hear. Think about how much more impactful Martin Luther King Jr's I have a dream speech would have been if he had been standing there limp and lifeless. When you're giving a speech, try these seven techniques for standing up tall and making eye contact with your audience:

  • Face the audience when you speak
  • Maintain consistent eye contact
  • Use gestures appropriately
  • Stand upright
  • Step away from the podium
  • Look confident
  • Smile at your audience occasionally

Make eye contact

It may seem like a small detail, but eye contact is the single most important thing you can do when speaking in front of an audience. Whether you're presenting or just having a casual conversation, you must maintain appropriate eye contact with the person or people you're talking to.

If you need to look away for a few moments to gather thoughts or present visual aids, make sure you glance back at them periodically while talking. It will help them feel connected and engaged with what you are saying and create a personal connection between the two of you. Eye contact is also key if you want the listeners to believe what you are telling them. Use gestures: Gestures are another way to involve your audience and get them involved in what you're saying. Not only does gesturing illustrate body language which helps paint a better picture, but it also forces listeners not to zone out by keeping their attention on hand motions instead of wandering thoughts.

A gesture toward any points on slides or visuals used during the speech as well as your notes on paper if needed. Engage emotionally: One of the best ways to hook your audience into listening (and believing) is by getting emotional about what you're discussing.

Use vivid language

  • Speak from the heart and be passionate about what you're talking about. People can tell when you don't believe in what you're saying and it turns them off. They want someone excited about their message, not someone who's just trying to get a paycheck for the day.
  • Dress for success - wear clothes that say I mean business. You want people to respect you and trust that you know what you're talking about so they'll listen to your advice or buy whatever product or service it is that you are offering, so dress appropriately. It doesn't have to be a suit unless you work in an office but at least dress like you care about how you look and feel.
  • Get pumped up with some music before the speech: One of my favorite ways to pump myself up before I go on stage is by listening to Eminem Lose Yourself. The lyrics are awesome and they remind me of why I do this job; it helps me focus on getting my point across as best as possible.

Tell stories

Speaking in front of crowds is a daunting task and one that many people struggle with. Thankfully, it's not too difficult to become an effective speaker. In the first section, I'll discuss three things you should do before the talk.

First, consider what you want your audience to walk away with after listening to you speak. What do you want them to think about when they leave the room? What are their thoughts on what you're saying? Write down these points so that you can remember them as well as make them clear for others who may be listening in on your presentation.

Next, be sure that everything is in order before presenting. You don't want anything distracting from the content of what you're saying! Finally, practice!

Be authentic

Public speaking is one of the most important skills for leaders and entrepreneurs. It's a skill that many people find themselves lacking. I used to be scared of it too. When I was about 12, I had the opportunity to go on stage and speak in front of 400 people during a talent show at school.

My heart was racing, my palms were sweaty, and my mind was blank as I walked onto the stage. It felt like my life depended on what came out of my mouth next, but once I started talking everything became okay.

Even though it wasn't perfect or anything close to perfect, it felt good when I finished and knew that I survived something that terrified me just a few minutes before. But then a few months later I watched an amazing speaker talk about his life journey, how he overcame adversity and then delivered the best keynote speech ever. Suddenly there was no comparison; he left me feeling less than inspired by my performance only months earlier.

I'll never forget how his words stayed with me throughout the day and would give speeches myself with more enthusiasm because of him. He taught me to have confidence in myself while also being authentic which is what all great speakers do.

Public speaking is a skill, like any other. You can improve it with practice and by taking some risks. Here are ten ways to make your next speech more exciting:

  • Practice, practice, practice.
  • Stand still and don't fidget.
  • Use props for visual aids like pictures or drawings.
  • Try not to use slides or visuals on the screen so you don't get caught looking at them instead of interacting with the audience.
  • If you're introducing someone in front of a big group, remember that a handshake is enough--don't give an elaborate greeting or hug if you're going to be standing up there for five minutes telling them about themselves!
  • Smile. Your audience will respond well to seeing a confident speaker who enjoys talking.
  • Project your voice without shouting and enunciate every word.
  • Resist using too many mums or likes.
  • Prepare scripts ahead of time, but then try not to read them word for word during the presentation.
  • Change things up with jokes or personal anecdotes that relate to what you're talking about--everyone loves hearing success stories!

Dress the part

Whether you are giving a speech, giving an interview, or presenting at a conference, one of the best ways to get people's attention is with how you look. The way you dress and present yourself will not only help you feel more confident but also make it easier for others to focus on what you're saying rather than who you are. Here are ten tips for dressing the part when it comes to public speaking:

  • Create an outfit that is tailored specifically for the event and time of day. Keep colors dark enough that they don't glare in photos or distract viewers. Wear clothes that fit well and aren't too tight or loose; keep jewelry minimal as well. And lastly, try not to wear black--especially if you are presenting--because it can create a visual distraction against your backdrop.
  • Dressing up doesn't have to be expensive either! Check out thrift stores, department store clearance racks, flea markets, and consignment shops for bargain deals and unique finds. You never know what treasures await!
  • Avoid distracting prints like leopard print, large flower prints, and loud florals. Stick with basic solids or stripes instead.
  • Don't forget accessories!

Practice, practice, practice

Practice is the simplest, yet most powerful tool in the speaker's arsenal. You must practice in front of as many people as possible. Audience members are a great resource for feedback on what does and doesn't work.

You'll also want to practice your content ahead of time, so you know exactly what you're going to say and when you're going to say it. This way, you won't have any surprises during the actual speech that will cause you to lose your train of thought or be thrown off balance.

Practicing with props is another important part of effective speaking. If it's appropriate for the topic at hand and there is an easy way to incorporate it into the speech, make sure and use it!

Embrace your nerves

The first thing you can do is embrace the nerves. They're a natural part of being in front of an audience, and trying to resist them will only make you more nervous. Instead, acknowledge the feeling of nervousness and think about what caused it.

Was it the thought that people might not like you? That they might laugh at you? That they might disagree with what you have to say? Whatever it is, know that this fear is normal and that many people feel the same way. Knowing that there's nothing wrong with feeling anxious before giving a speech will help put things into perspective.

Public speaking is a scary experience for most people, but by employing these 10 tips, you’ll be able to convince even the most skeptical of audiences that you are the go-to expert in your industry. From practicing your speech out loud to writing down and memorizing your key points, these tips will show you that speaking in front of an audience isn’t nearly as bad as it seems!

Our School of Meaningful Experiences ( SoME ) creates and delivers transformative communication programs designed to meet the workplace challenges of the post-pandemic 21st century.  We strongly believe effective, assertive, and empathetic Communication skills will enable our learners to present themselves confidently, manage conflicts betters, collaborate capably, and become tomorrow's competent professionals and leaders.

We are an industry-leading education provider with a strong track record for excellence in delivering customized training solutions to meet your needs at an affordable price point. Our services range from 1-on-1 coaching to large group workshops depending on your needs and budget; we are here to help! If you're looking for some personal development or want to improve your communication skills then check us out.

What is the role of effective speaking?

Effective speaking is the ability to deliver a message in a way that is understandable, interesting, and engaging. Effective speakers can maintain the attention of their audience and encourage them to think about what is being said.

What is public speaking in communication skills?

Public speaking is the act of presenting a formal talk or lecture before an audience. Public speakers do not need to be experts in their field, but they must be able to present information, confidently, and with conviction.

Public speaking can be a terrifying thing for many people. You must be well-prepared when you stand up in front of others. The following ten tips will help improve your public speaking skills.

What is effective communication?

Effective communication is the process of communicating ideas or feelings in a way that can be understood by the receiver. When you speak, you communicate with words, facial expressions, tone, and body language.  Effective communication program starts before the words are even spoken.

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basic elements of public speaking

The 7 Basic Elements of Public Speaking

Remember that time you had to present a topic in front of a crowd? Probably it was a proposal at work or an oral report in grade school. You took the time to prepare and gather materials, after which you climbed the podium and started talking.

There are seven basic elements of public speaking that you used there, and surely you had to find effective speech delivery techniques to make sure your presentation was a success.

7 Basic Elements of Public Speaking

There are seven elements of public speaking :

  • The speaker
  • The message
  • The audience or receiver.
  • The channel.
  • The place or situation.

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9 Qualities of a Great Presenter

19+ Public Speaking Techniques (#18 is Gold)

Before we go into the details of each of the basic elements of public speaking and share some of the fundamental tips on how to make an effective speech delivery, let’s start by looking at what is public speaking.

The best way to define Public speaking is by looking at two key concepts:

  • An audience

This means that every time you go to a meeting, attend a conference call, or present solutions to your boss – you’re engaging in public speaking. It doesn’t matter the number of persons listening to you; it is still defined as public speaking.

Most people do not realize that public speaking is something they practice every day. However, understanding this gives you a significant advantage and an excellent opportunity to practice.

What are the elements of public speaking?

There are seven elements that a speaker must understand to be able to prepare and transmit an effective speech or presentation in public. A professional and effective speaker knows that he must apply these seven elements at the same time.

However, not paying attention to any of these aspects may result in an unprofessional or disastrous speech or presentation.

Let’s look at them thus;

#1. The speaker

is speech the most important component of communication

One of the most pivotal among the basic elements of public speaking is the speaker itself, that is, the source of the message. Many speakers forget that they are the presentation itself, and not the visual aids they use. Many presenters or speakers today put a lot of effort into visual aids and forget that those elements are just that visual aids that help the speaker make a better presentation. Relying on visual aids in one hundred percent is not recommended.

There are three factors that we need to consider about any speaker.

  • or your passion
  • Your credibility as a speaker
  • His style and personality to communicate his knowledge and ideas.

#2. The message

The message refers to everything the speaker says, both verbally and bodily. The verbal component can be analyzed in three basic elements.

Let’s see each of these three elements:

Content : This is what the speaker says about the subject or topic.

Structure:  The structure of a message is your organization. There are many ways to organize your message; The structure could include an introduction, a body or argument, and the conclusion.

When your presentations are poorly organized, it reduces the impact of the message. For a speech or presentation to achieve the desired objective, it must captivate and impact the audience from the first 60 seconds until the end of the intervention.

#3. The audienc e

components of public speaking

A professional speaker should analyze his listeners before the Speech and decide how to present his ideas. This analysis could include some important considerations:

Needs, Age, sex, marital status, race, geographic location, type of group (homogeneous or heterogeneous), education, trade, activity, and profession.

The speaker should always adapt to the audience, both in their language and attire (as much as possible).

#4. The channel

When a speaker communicates with his audience, they use many communication channels. These include the nonverbal channel, the visual channel, and the auditory channel.

The nonverbal channel includes:

  • Facial expressions
  • Body’s movement
  • Physical posture

The visual channel includes:

  • Photographs

The auditory channel include;

  • Tone of voice
  • Variations in voice volume
  • Tapes, CDS or audio materials

#5. Feedback

Although for some people it might be strange to see feedback as one of the basic elements of public speaking, rest assured that it is definitely one of the key elements to watch out for.

Feedback is the process through which the speaker receives a response or information from the audience that has heard the message. 

The feedback process is not completed until the speaker has responded to the concerns of his audience. 

#6. The noise

There are two types of noise that a speaker should know:

External noise and internal noise.

External noise consists of sounds from laughter, poor acoustics of the auditorium, temperature (too hot or too cold), poor ventilation, visual interference such as low light, or obstacles between the speaker and the audience.

Internal noise occurs when the speaker is confused or conveys an unclear message about what he wants to express.

The best way to combat any type of noise;

Use more than one communication channel at the same time (verbal and nonverbal). Ensure that the auditorium is conditioned to appear in public. Use the repetition of ideas throughout the exhibition. Transmit a clear and concise message for the audience to understand.

#7. The place or situation

The place where a speech is delivered may be one of the most critical elements for the success of a presentation. It stands to reason why we added it as one of the 7 basic elements of public speaking.

It is recommended that you review the place or auditorium where you are going to make your presentation. You also need to know in advance the exact spot where you are going to speak in public and to coordinate all the details to take all precautions in advance. 

For example: the conditions of the place, the seats, the air conditioner, the lighting, the arrangement of the platform, the seats, the tables, etc. All details must be under control.

Having looked at the basic elements of public speaking, the next thing you need to know is that there are several types of speeches a person can deliver and that there are key principles you can follow to ensure a successful speech delivery.

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How many types of speech are there.

For this discussion, we will list nine types of speeches. They include;

  • Demonstrative Speech : this type of Speech focuses on educating the audience on a specific subject. Here, the demonstration or presentation is aided by adding a visual aid which to describe further how to do something.

Examples of demonstrative Speech include topics like ‘how to make money on the internet,’ ‘how to write a cover letter,’ or ‘how to start a blog.’

  • and enjoyment to the audience. 

They are usually very short. You are already familiar with an entertaining speech if you’ve ever been to a wedding banquet or reception.

  • Informative Speech:  this type of Speech provides the audience with a piece of new information on a specific subject. Informative speeches rely on facts and statistics and various data to ensure that the audience learns something. 

Examples of informative Speech include topics on economic and social changes in a community etc.

  • Persuasive Speech : the idea of a persuasive speech is to persuade the audience to believe that the opinion of the speaker is the right one. Some speakers will use solid facts, figures, and statistics to back up their argument. 

Examples of Persuasive speeches would be one delivered to try to raise funds for a cause.

  • Oratorical Speech:  this type of Speech is usually given at special ceremonies such as graduation, which involve special activities such as ribbon-cutting or inauguration ceremony. Oratorical speeches are best kept short and informal. 
  • Motivational Speech:  This type of Speech aims at self-improvement for the members of the audience. Motivational speeches are common in business executive meetings and aim at encouraging employees to complete a particular task. Other examples would be speeches made by life coaches who try to get you moving and pursuing your dreams.
  • Forensic Speech : Here, the speakers perfect their skills while being supervised by experienced speakers. It is usually associated with students who seek to hone their craft while practicing at the same time. 
  • Debate Speech:  debate speeches are not meant to persuade the other party to switch side; instead, the speaker justifies his or her opinion. Debate speeches are of different forms, which include mock trials, public forum, impromptu, Lincoln-Douglas, extemporaneous, classical, parliamentary, and more. 
  • Special Occasion Speech:  As the name implies, these are speeches made at special events. 

Examples of special occasion speech include award acceptance speeches which describe what an award means to a person and used to thank someone for an award; tribute speeches which pay tribute to someone who is either alive or dead;

Now that you know that there are several types of speeches out there, check below 9 key principles for effective speech delivery.

types of speech styles

8 Principles for Effective Speech Delivery

There are no secrets to public speaking. It’s all about learning! Politicians speaking on television or in front of an audience have developed their capabilities to captivate an audience by undergoing some personal training overtime.

Here’s a list of eight principles of effective speech delivery

#1 Practice in advance

Another challenge every speaker wants to overcome is tension. Rest assured, everyone feels apprehensive and tense when they are about to speak to an audience. A beating heart or trembling hands are normal symptoms.

To prevent these feelings from overriding the quality of your performance, or preventing you from speaking in public at all, practice in advance. 

According to experts, it is best to practice in the shower, since practicing in front of a mirror can be a great distraction. A good alternative is to train out loud, trying to identify those details that can be improved to make a brilliant presentation.

#2 Know your audience

Before giving your Speech, try to speak with part of your audience, so that if you feel nervous, there are some familiar faces inside the room that will give you back your security. Remember that one of the keys to a good speech is to make good eye contact with those present.

Knowing more about your listeners will help you determine your choice of words, the level of information, the organizational model, and lines that will motivate them.

Create the outline of your Speech: write down the subject, the general objective, the central idea, and the main points.

Most importantly, be sure to grab the audience’s attention within the first 30 seconds.

#3- Relaxation techniques

If before entering the room, you find yourself nervous, it is best to take a few deep breaths that allow you to regain your calm. Finally, try to channel that adrenaline into positive energy. The adrenaline rush that makes you sweat also makes you more alert and ready to give the best of yourself. It’s pretty positive, isn’t it?

#4- Do not read your Speech

If you are not in a formal event where reading your message is important; generally, you will want to deliver your Speech from the heart. However, you should refrain from reading the Speech completely (in most cases) because your message will come as something distant. 

Reading a presentation or a slide breaks the interpersonal connection. By keeping eye contact with the audience, you keep the focus on yourself and your message. A brief overview of your speech outline can serve to refresh your memory and keep your plan in mind.

You can use audio-visual aids judiciously to highlight your point. However, using this tip too often can break the direct connection to the audience, so use it sparingly. These aids should improve or clarify your content, and thus capture and maintain the attention of your audience.

#5- Start with an anecdote or an interesting story

Many people often make the mistake of starting their speeches by thanking the presenter or expressing their happiness for being there. Still, it is proven that the best way to start a presentation in public is by an anecdote or story that projects the subject you are going to talk about.

Don’t hesitate to include a funny anecdote in your presentation. Spectators generally appreciate a personal touch in a speech.

Take advantage of every opportunity to put a face to the facts of your presentation.

#6- It must be simple

When making a presentation, you should put aside fancy speeches with hundreds of data. Keep in mind that people do not remember much of what they hear, so the best speeches include a relevant message and some great stories to illustrate the message you are going to convey.

#7- It must be short

A good speech should never be more than ten or twenty minutes long. According to experts, the ideal time is to last seven minutes.

#8- Use body language

If your body betrays symptoms of nerves or fear, those present will be more closed to adopt the message you want to convey. In order to succeed, the public must feel that you are having a good time and that the theme of the Speech arouses you a lot of passion and emotion.

Check out our 19+ Public Speaking Techniques article for more tips.

Delivering a Successful Speech

Understanding the basic elements of public speaking and the principles of effective speech delivery will be essential in taking you to that next level of preparing and delivering memorable and engaging speeches. Do not underestimate the importance of doing your best to accommodate each and every aspect of speech delivery that you can, in order to increase as much as possible the success of your presentation.




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  • Relationships

Why Communication Matters

We communicate to create, maintain, and change relationships and selves..

Posted July 15, 2021 | Reviewed by Vanessa Lancaster

  • Why Relationships Matter
  • Find a therapist to strengthen relationships
  • How we communicate helps relationships get off on the right foot, navigate problems, and change over time.
  • In communication, we develop, create, maintain, and alter our relationships.
  • We communicate to work our way through family changes and challenges in verbal and non-verbal ways.

Image by edsavi30 from Pixabay

I remember seeing a poster on my junior high classroom wall: “Communication is the Beginning of Understanding.” This spoke to me at the time. Yet, like so many people, I had never really thought much about communication. I would have described communication as sending and receiving messages.

Communication Is More Than Sending and Receiving Messages

In reality, communication is often about transmitting information. We send and receive messages with people in our lives. Daily, much of our communication consists of coordinating schedules, “What time are you getting home for dinner?” and negotiating whose turn it is to do the dishes, pay the bills, or take dinner to a friend who is ill. We send messages like, “It is your turn to let the dog out” and receive messages like, “Don’t forget to get dog food at the store” (if you have not guessed, a lot of the messages in my house are about the dog).

We might also blame problems on communication, talking about “communication breakdowns” or on a “lack of communication.” If we think about communication in these ways, we have missed so much that is important about communication. We have neglected how and why communication matters.

Communication Matters to Creating and Changing Relationships

We become aware of how Communication Matters when

  • We confront issues with work-life balance.
  • We experience positive events like the birth of a baby or winning an award.
  • We have a friend does who does not do or say what we expect.
  • We have disagreements over religious beliefs or political values.

Both positive and challenging events affect, reflect, and change our identity and the identity of our personal and family relationships. What do I mean by this? How did these relationships come into being? Well, think about the last time you started a new friendship or had a new member join your family. Through what you and the other person said and did, what we’d call verbal and nonverbal communication , these relationships took shape.

Sometimes relationships develop easily and clearly. They are healthy and pleasant. Other times, relationships develop in stress and storm and may be healthy or not. How we communicate helps relationships get off on the right foot, navigate problems, and change over time.

What is important to understand is that relationships are talked into (and out of) being. In communication, we develop, create, maintain, and alter our relationships. As we communicate, we become and change who we are. Think about how you have grown and changed as you communicate at home, at work, with friends, and in your community.

Communication Matters to Relationship and Family Identity

As we communicate, we co-create relationships and our own identity. As you think about your close relationships and your family, you can likely recall important events, both positive and negative, that impacted how you understand your relationship and yourself as a person.

Consider this example: one of my college students described a childhood family ritual of going out on the front lawn on Christmas Eve. The family sang Christmas carols and threw carrots on the roof for Santa’s reindeers. The family still does this annual carrot-throwing ritual in adulthood. You can picture them bringing their sometimes confused new partners and spouses out in the snow to throw carrots onto the roof and sing.

Why does this family still throw carrots and sing? Through this seemingly silly ritual, the family celebrates who they are as a family and the togetherness that is important to them. The family creates space for new people to join the family. Through their words and actions, members of the family teach their new partners how to be family members through carrot throwing and other vital experiences.

I am sure you can point to experiences that have been central to creating your relationships and your identity.

Communication Matters as We Face Change and Challenges

We also communicate to work our way through family changes and challenges. Family members or others may have different expectations of what our family and personal identity or should be. This is especially true when a family does not fit dominant cultural models, such as single-parent families, multi-ethnic families, stepfamilies, LGBTQ families, or adoptive families.

is speech the most important component of communication

For me, becoming a stepfamily was highly challenging. We became a stepfamily when I was 12 years old. My mother had recently died, and my Dad surprised us, kids, introducing us to the woman he wanted to marry. We no longer matched the other families in the neighborhood where we’d lived most of our lives. We certainly did not feel like a family overnight.

It took my stepfamily several years to create an understanding of what it meant to be a family. As we interacted, and with many mistakes and some successes, we slowly came to understand what we needed and expected from each other to be a family.

For all of us, relationship and family identity is constantly developing and changing. In my case, I remember my stepmom reminding me to wear a jacket when going out in the evening, even into my 40s, and giving me advice about my health. At some point, our roles changed, and now, as she moves toward her 80s, more often than not, I am in the role of asking about her health and helping her with significant decisions. What it means to be a mother or daughter and what we expect of each other and ourselves change as we interact.

Communication Matters . Whether we are negotiating whose turn it is to feed the dog, how to become a parent, how to interact with a difficult co-worker, or how to celebrate with a friend who won a major award, it is in communication that we learn what to do and say. This is what I will write about in this blog as I reflect on what I have learned as a professor and researcher of interpersonal and family communication. I invite you to go on this journey with me. I hope to give you insights into your communication.

Communication Matters. Communication is the Beginning of Understanding . It is an exciting and ever-changing journey.

Baxter, L. A. (2004). Relationships as dialogues. Personal Relationships, 11 , 1-22. doi: 10.1111/j.1475-6811.2004.00068.x

Braithwaite, D. O., Foster, E. A., & Bergen, K. M. (2018). Social construction theory: Communication co-creating families. In D. O. Braithwaite, E. A. Suter, & K. Floyd. (Eds.). Engaging theories in family communication: Multiple perspectives (2nd ed., pp. 267-278). Routledge.

Braithwaite, D. O., Waldron, V. R., Allen, J., Bergquist, G., Marsh, J., Oliver, B., Storck, K., Swords, N., & Tschampl-Diesing, C. (2018). “Feeling warmth and close to her”: Communication and resilience reflected in turning points in positive adult stepchild-stepparent relationships. Journal of Family Communication, 18 , 92-109. doi: 10.1080/15267431.2017.1415902

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Ph.D.

Dawn O. Braithwaite, Ph.D., a professor of communication at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, studies families and close relationships, especially step- and chosen families.

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Module 1: Introduction to Public Speaking

Models of communication.

It should be clear by now that public speaking happens all around us in many segments of our lives. However, to truly understand what is happening within these presentations, we need to take a step back and look at some of the key components of the communication process.

Linear Model of Communication

The first theoretical model of communication was proposed in 1949 by Shannon and Weaver for Bell Laboratories. [1] This three-part model was intended to capture the radio and television transmission process. However it was later adapted to human communication and is now known as the linear model of communication. The first part of the model is the sender, and this is the person who is speaking. The second part of the model is the channel, which is the apparatus for carrying the message (i.e., the phone or TV). The third part of the model is the receiver, and this is the person who picks up the message. In this model, communication is seen as a one-way process of transmitting a message from one person to another person. This model can be found in Figure 1.1. If you think about situations when you communicate with another person face-to-face or when you give a speech, you probably realize that this model is inadequate—communication is much more complicated than firing off a message to others.

Linear Model of Communication. Sender to channel to receiver.

“Figure 1.1” by Public Speaking Project. CC-BY-NC-ND .

Transactional Model of Communication

Models of communication have evolved significantly since Shannon and Weaver first proposed their well- known conceptual model over sixty years ago. One of the most useful models for understanding public speaking is Barnlund’s transactional model of communication. [2] In the transactional model, communication is seen as an ongoing, circular process. We are constantly affecting and are affected by those we communicate with. The transactional model has a number of interdependent processes and components, including the encoding and decoding processes, the communicator, the message, the channel and noise. Although not directly addressed in Barnlund’s (2008) original transactional model, participants’ worldviews and the context also play an important role in the communication process. See Figure 1.2 for an illustration.

The transactional model of communication. It shows two people. They are surrounded by blobs to represent noise. The two people’s communication is within a context. Each person has five circles above their head to represent their individual worldview. The circles are labeled axiology, ontology, epistemology, praxeology, and cosmology. One person is the communicator. The communicator gives the message through a channel formed between both people. The remaining person gives feedback back to the communicator through the same channel.

“Figure 1.2” by Public Speaking Project. CC-BY-NC-ND .

He who would learn to fly one day must first learn to stand and walk and run and climb and dance; one cannot fly into flying. ~ Friedrich Nietzsche

  • Shannon, C. E., & Weaver, W. (1949). The mathematical theory of communication . Urbana: University of Illinois Press. ↵
  • Barnlund, D. C. (2008). A transactional model of communication . In. C. D. Mortensen (Eds.), Communication theory (2nd Ed), pp. 47 – 57. New Brunswick, New Jersey: Transaction. ↵
  • Chapter 1 Models of Communication. Authored by : Lisa Schreiber, Ph.D. and Morgan Hartranft. Provided by : Millersville University, Millersville, PA. Located at : http://publicspeakingproject.org/psvirtualtext.html . Project : Public Speaking Project. License : CC BY-NC-ND: Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivatives

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7.4 Outlining Your Speech

OSU student standing between two tall library shelves while reading a book

Most speakers and audience members would agree that an organized speech is both easier to present as well as more persuasive. Public speaking teachers especially believe in the power of organizing your speech, which is why they encourage (and often require) that you create an outline for your speech. Outlines, or textual arrangements of all the various elements of a speech, are a very common way of organizing a speech before it is delivered. Most extemporaneous speakers keep their outlines with them during the speech as a way to ensure that they do not leave out any important elements and to keep them on track. Writing an outline is also important to the speechwriting process since doing so forces the speakers to think about the main ideas, known as main points, and subpoints, the examples they wish to include, and the ways in which these elements correspond to one another. In short, the outline functions both as an organization tool and as a reference for delivering a speech.

Outline Types

There are two types of outlines, the preparation outline and the speaking outline.

Preparation Outline

The first outline you will write is called the preparation outline . Also called a skeletal, working, practice, or rough outline, the preparation outline is used to work through the various components of your speech in an organized format. Stephen E. Lucas (2004) put it simply: “The preparation outline is just what its name implies—an outline that helps you prepare the speech.” When writing the preparation outline, you should focus on  finalizing the specific purpose and thesis statement, logically ordering your main points, deciding where supporting material should be included, and refining the overall organizational pattern of your speech. As you write the preparation outline, you may find it necessary to rearrange your points or to add or subtract supporting material. You may also realize that some of your main points are sufficiently supported while others are lacking. The final draft of your preparation outline should include full sentences. In most cases, however, the preparation outline is reserved for planning purposes only and is translated into a speaking outline before you deliver the speech. Keep in mind though, even a full sentence outline is not an essay.

Speaking Outline

A speaking outline is the outline you will prepare for use when delivering the speech. The speaking outline is much more succinct than the preparation outline and includes brief phrases or words that remind the speakers of the points they need to make, plus supporting material and signposts (Beebe & Beebe, 2003). The words or phrases used on the speaking outline should briefly encapsulate all of the information needed to prompt the speaker to accurately deliver the speech. Although some cases call for reading a speech verbatim from the full-sentence outline, in most cases speakers will simply refer to their speaking outline for quick reminders and to ensure that they do not omit any important information. Because it uses just words or short phrases, and not full sentences, the speaking outline can easily be transferred to index cards that can be referenced during a speech. However, check with your instructor regarding what you will be allowed to use for your speech.

Components of Outlines

The main components of the outlines are the main points, subordination and coordination, parallelism, division, and the connection of main points.

Main Points

Main points are the main ideas in the speech. In other words, the main points are what your audience should remember from your talk, and they are phrased as single, declarative sentences. These are never phrased as a question, nor can they be a quote or form of citation. Any supporting material you have will be put in your outline as a subpoint. Since this is a public speaking class, your instructor will decide how long your speeches will be, but in general, you can assume that no speech will be longer than 10 minutes in length. Given that alone, we can make one assumption. All speeches will fall between 2 to 5 main points based simply on length. If you are working on an outline and you have ten main points, something is wrong, and you need to revisit your ideas to see how you need to reorganize your points.

All main points are preceded by Roman numerals (I, II, III, etc.). Subpoints are preceded by capital letters (A, B, C, etc.), then Arabic numerals (1, 2, 3, etc.), lowercase letters (a, b, c, etc.). You can subordinate further than this. Speak with your instructor regarding his or her specific instructions. Each level of subordination is also differentiated from its predecessor by indenting a few spaces. Indenting makes it easy to find your main points, subpoints, and the supporting points and examples below them.

Let’s work on understanding how to take main points and break them into smaller ideas by subordinating them further and further as we go by using the following outline example:

Topic : Dog

Specific Purpose : To inform my audience about characteristics of dogs

Thesis : There are many types of dogs that individuals can select from before deciding which would make the best family pet.

Preview : First, I will describe the characteristics of large breed dogs, and then I will discuss characteristics of small breed dogs.

I.     First, let’s look at the characteristics of large breed dogs      A.     Some large breed dogs need daily activity.      B.     Some large breed dogs are dog friendly.      C.     Some large breed dogs drool.           1.     If you are particularly neat, you may not want one of these.               a.     Bloodhounds drool the most.                   1)     After eating is one of the times drooling is bad.                   2)     The drooling is horrible after they drink, so beware!               b.    English bloodhounds drool a lot as well.           2.     If you live in an apartment, these breeds could pose a problem. II.    Next, let’s look at the characteristics of small breed dogs.      A.     Some small breed dogs need daily activity.      B.     Some small breed dogs are dog friendly.      C.     Some small breed dogs are friendly to strangers.           1.    Welsh Terriers love strangers.               a.     They will jump on people.               b.     They will wag their tails and nuzzle.           2.    Beagles love strangers.           3.    Cockapoos also love strangers.

Subordination and Coordination

You should have noticed that as ideas were broken down, or subordinated, there was a hierarchy to the order. To check your outline for coherence, think of the outline as a staircase. All of the points that are beneath and on a diagonal to the points above them are subordinate points. So using the above example, points A, B, and C dealt with characteristics of large breed dogs, and those points are all subordinate to main point I. Similarly, points 1 and 2 under point C both dealt with drool, so those are subordinate. This is the subordination of points. If we had discussed food under point C, you would know that something didn’t make sense. You will also see that there is coordination of points. As part of the hierarchy, coordination simply means that all of the numbers or letters should represent the same idea. In this example, A, B, and C were all characteristics, so those are all coordinate to each other. Had C been “German Shepherd,” then the outline would have been incorrect because that is a type of dog, not a characteristic.


Another important rule in outlining is known as parallelism . This means that when possible, you begin your sentences in a similar way, using a similar grammatical structure. For example, in the previous example on dogs, some of the sentences began “some large breed dogs.” This type of structure adds clarity to your speaking. Students often worry that parallelism will sound boring. It’s actually the opposite! It adds clarity. However, if you had ten sentences in a row, we would never recommend you begin them all the same way. That is where transitions come into the picture and break up any monotony that could occur.

The principle of division is an important part of outlining. When you have a main point, you will be explaining it. You should have enough meaningful information that you can divide it into two subpoints A and B. If subpoint A has enough information that you can explain it, then it, too, should be able to be divided into two subpoints. So, division means this: If you have an A, then you need a B; if you have a 1, then you need a 2, and so on. What if you cannot divided the point? In a case like that you would simply incorporate the information in the point above.

Connecting Your Main Points

One way to connect points is to include transitional statements . Transitional statements are phrases or sentences that lead from one distinct- but-connected idea to another. They are used to alert the audience to the fact that you are getting ready to discuss something else. When moving from one point to another, your transition may just be a word or short phrase, known as a sign post. For instance, you might say “next,” “also,” or “moreover.” You can also enumerate your speech points and signal transitions by starting each point with “First,” “Second,” “Third,” et cetera. You might also incorporate non-verbal transitions, such as brief pauses or a movement across the stage. Pausing to look at your audience, stepping out from behind a podium, or even raising or lowering the rate of your voice can signal to audience members that you are transitioning.

Another way to incorporate transitions into your speech is by offering internal summaries and internal previews within your speech. Summaries provide a recap of what has already been said, making it more likely that audiences will remember the points that they hear again. For example, an internal summary may sound like this:

So far, we have seen that the pencil has a long and interesting history. We also looked at the many uses the pencil has that you may not have known about previously.

Like the name implies, internal previews lay out what will occur next in your speech. They are longer than transitional words or signposts .

Next, let us explore what types of pencils there are to pick from that will be best for your specific project.

Additionally, summaries can be combined with internal previews to alert audience members that the next point builds on those that they have already heard.

Now that I have told you about the history of the pencil, as well as its many uses, let’s look at what types of pencils you can pick from that might be best for your project.

It is important to understand that if you use an internal summary and internal preview between main points, you need to state a clear main point following the internal preview. Here’s an example integrating all of the points on the pencil:

I. First, let me tell you about the history of the pencil.

So far we have seen that the pencil has a long and interesting history. Now, we can look at how the pencil can be used (internal summary, signpost, and internal preview).

II. The pencil has many different uses, ranging from writing to many types of drawing.

Now that I have told you about the history of the pencil, as well as its many uses, let’s look at what types of pencils you can pick from that might be best for your project (Signpost, internal summary and preview).

III. There are over fifteen different types of pencils to choose from ranging in hardness and color.

Had Meg, the student mentioned in the opening anecdote, taken some time to work through the organizational process, it is likely her speech would have gone much more smoothly when she finished her introduction. It is very common for beginning speakers to spend a great deal of their time preparing catchy introductions, fancy PowerPoint presentations, and nice conclusions, which are all very important. However, the body of any speech is where the speaker must make effective arguments, provide helpful information, entertain, and the like, so it makes sense that speakers should devote a proportionate amount of time to these areas as well. By following this chapter, as well as studying the other chapters in this text, you should be prepared to craft interesting, compelling, and organized speeches.

used to work through the various components of your speech in an organized format

much more succinct than the preparation outline and includes brief phrases or words that remind the speakers of the points they need to make, plus supporting material and signposts

the main ideas in the speech

a hierarchy to the order of the points of a speech

all of the numbers or letters of points should represent the same idea

the repetition of grammatical structures that correspond in sound, meter, or meaning

if you have an A, then you need a B; if you have a 1, then you need a 2, and so on

phrases or sentences that lead from one distinct- but-connected idea to another

transition using just a word or short phrase

Introduction to Speech Communication Copyright © 2021 by Individual authors retain copyright of their work. is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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1.4 The Importance of Communication

Communication skills are essential in all areas of life.

Communication is used in virtually all aspects of everyday life. In order to explore how communication is integrated into all parts of our lives, let us divide up our lives into four spheres: academic, professional, personal, and civic . The se spheres overlap a n d influence one another . After all, our personal experience is brought into the classroom, much of what goes on in a classroom is present in our professional and personal environments, and the classroom has long been seen as a place to foster personal growth and prepare students to become active and responsible members of society .

Academic Success

You will bring your current communication-related knowledge, skills, and abilities to the classroom. Aside from wanting to earn a good grade, you may also be genuinely interested in becoming a better communicator. Research shows that even people who are poor communicators can improve their verbal, nonverbal, and interpersonal communication skills by taking communication courses ( Zabava & Wolvin , 1993). Communication skills are also tied to academic success. Poor listening skills have been shown to contribute significantly to failure in a person’s first year of college. Also, students who take communication courses report having more confidence in their communication abilities, and these students have higher grade point averages and are less likely to drop out of school. Much of what we do in a classroom, whether it is the interpersonal interactions with our classmates and instructor, individual or group presentations, writing assignments, asking questions, or listening, can be used to build or add to a foundation of good communication skills and knowledge that can carry through t o professional, personal, and civic contexts .  

is speech the most important component of communication

Professional Skills

The Corporate Rec r uiters Survey Report ( Graduate Management Admission Council, 2017 , p. 50 ) found that employers in h ealth c are and pharmacy, technology, nonprofit and government, and products and services industries list oral, written, listening, and presentation communication skills in their top five skills sought for midlevel positions. Adaptability was also ranked in the top five in three out of the four industries— the ability to be adaptable can be the result of a person’s ability to perceive, interpret, and share information. The survey also found that the need for teamwork skills is growing in deman d. The ability to follow a leader, delegation skills, valuing the op inions of others, cross-cultural sensitivity, and adaptability were listed as t eamwork ski lls , and these skills can also be the result of one’s communication skills.  

Table 1.1. Top Five Skills Employers Seek, in Order of Required Proficiency, by Industry

Note: Adapted from Corporate Recruiters Survey Report 2017 , by the Graduate Management Admission Council, p. 50. https://www.mba.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/employment-outlook/2017-gmac-corporate-recruiters-web-release.pdf?la=en

Desired communication skills vary from career to career, but again, the academic sphere provides a foundation onto which you can build communication skills specific to your professional role or field of study. Poor listening skills, lack of conciseness, and the inability to give constructive feedback have been identified as potential communication challenges in professional contexts. Despite the well-documented need for communication skills in the professional world, many students still resist engaging in communication classes. Perhaps people think they already have good communication skills or can improve their skills on their own. Although either of these may be true for some, studying communication can only help.  

Personal Communication Skills

Many students know from personal experience and from the prevalence of communication counselling on television talk shows and in self-help books that communication forms, maintains, and ends our interpersonal relationships, but they do not know the extent to which that occurs. Although we learn from experience, until we learn specific vocabulary and develop a foundational knowledge of communication concepts and theories, we do not have the necessary tools to make sense of these experiences. Just having a vocabulary to name the communication phenomena in our lives increases our ability to consciously alter our communication to achieve our goals, avoid miscommunication, and analyze and learn from our inevitable mistakes.

As mentioned earlier in the chapter, communication is required for us to meet our personal physical , instrumental , relational , and identity needs.

  • Physical needs are needs that keep our bodies and minds functioning.
  • Instrumental needs are needs that help us get things done in our day-to-day lives and achieve short- and long-term goals. 
  • Relational needs are needs that help us maintain social bonds and interpersonal relationships.
  • Identity needs include our need to present ourselves to others and be thought of in particular and desired ways.  

Civic Engagement

Civic engagement   refers to working to make a difference in our communities by improving the quality of life of community members; raising awareness about social, cultural, or political issues (Image 1.10); or participating in a wide variety of political and nonpolitical processes (Ehrlich, 2000).  The civic part of our lives is developed through engagement with the decision making that goes on in our society at small-group, local, state, regional, national, and international levels. Such involvement ranges from serving on a neighbourhood advisory board to sending an email to a political representative. Discussions and decisions that affect our communities happen around us all the time, but it takes time and effort to become part of that process. Communication scholars have been aware of the connections between communication and a person’s civic engagement or citizenship for thousands of years. Aristotle, who wrote the first and most influential comprehensive book on communication 2,400 years ago, taught that it is through our voice, our ability to communicate, that we engage with the world around us and participate in our society .  

is speech the most important component of communication

Diversity in Communication

Communication is the sharing of understanding and meaning (Pearson & Nelson, 2000), but what is intercultural communication ? If you answered “the sharing of understanding and meaning across cultures,” you’d be close, but what is a culture ? Culture is defined by more than ethnicity, race, or geography. A culture can exist wherever there is a group of people with shared beliefs, attitudes, values, and traditions. Multiple factors can shape a culture, including but not limited to age, gender, ethnicity, race, geography, workplace settings, family, abilities, and interests. According to Rogers and Steinfatt (1999), intercultural communication is the exchange of information among individuals who are “unalike culturally.” Let’s explore what intercultural communication can look like.

A culture’s beliefs, attitudes, values, and traditions are represented and expressed by the behaviours of its members. The language we use, the holidays we celebrate, the clothes we wear, the movies we watch, or the video games we play are just some of the ways we express our culture. Environment also shapes a culture, and a culture can shape the environment. For example, a person can grow up in a mountainous region and value the environment. If the person moves to a beach town, they may display pictures of their favourite mountains and participate in an outdoor club to continue to express and engage in their culture. Culture also involves the psychological aspects of our expectations of the communication context. For example, if we are raised in a culture where males speak while females are expected to remain silent, the context of the communication interaction governs behaviour, itself a representation of culture. From the choice of words (message), to how we communicate (in person or by email), to how we acknowledge understanding with a nod or a glance (nonverbal feedback), to the internal and external interference, all aspects of communication are influenced by culture. 

Can there be intercultural communication within a culture? If all communication is intercultural, then the answer would be yes, but we still have to prove our case. Imagine a three-generation family living in one household. This family is a culture, but let’s look a bit closer. The grandparents may represent another time and different values from the grandchildren. The parents may have a different level of education and pursue different careers from the grandparents. The schooling the children receive may prepare them for yet other careers. From music to food preferences to how work is done may vary across time—singer Elvis Presley may seem like ancient history to the children. The communication across generations represents intercultural communication, even if only to a limited degree.

Another example is student culture. Let’s consider what other cultures likely impact the student culture at a school, university, or college. A group of students are likely all similar in age and educational level (Image 1.11). Do gender and the societal expectations of roles influence their interactions? Of course. And so we see that, among these students, the boys and girls not only communicate in distinct ways, but not all boys and girls are the same. A group of siblings may have common characteristics, but they will still have differences, and these differences contribute to intercultural communication. We are each shaped by our upbringing, and it influences our worldview, what we value, and how we interact with each other. We create culture, and it creates us. 

is speech the most important component of communication

If intercultural communication is the exchange of information among individuals who are “unalike culturally,” after reflecting on our discussion and its implications, you may arrive at the idea that ultimately we are each “a culture of one”—we are simultaneously a part of community and its culture(s) and separate from it in the unique combination that represents us as an individual. All of us are separated by a matter of degrees from each other even if we were raised on the same street, have parents of similar educational background and profession, and have many other things in common.

Communication with yourself is called  intrapersonal communication , and it may also be intracultural, as you may only represent one culture, but most people belong to many groups, each with their own culture. Within our imaginary intergenerational home, how many cultures do you think we might find? If we only consider the parents, and consider work one culture and family another, we now have two. If we were to look more closely, we would find many more groups, and the complexity would grow exponentially. Does a conversation with yourself ever involve competing goals, objectives, needs, wants, or values? How did you learn of those goals or values? Through communication within and among individuals, they themselves are representative of many cultures. We struggle with the demands of each group and their expectations, and could consider this internal struggle intercultural conflict, or simply intercultural communication. 

Culture is part of the very fabric of our thought, and we cannot separate ourselves from it, even when we leave home, defining ourselves anew in work and achievement. Every business or organization has a culture, and within what may be considered a global culture, there are many subcultures or co-cultures. For example, consider the difference between the sales and accounting departments in a corporation—we can quickly see two distinct groups, each with their own symbols, vocabulary, and values. Within each group there may also be smaller groups, and each member of every department comes from a distinct background that in itself influences behaviour and interaction.

Intercultural communication is a part of our everyday lives and occurs interpersonally (with others) and intrapersonally (within ourselves). Intercultural communication competency is rooted in understanding the cultures around us and adapting our communication to establish, maintain, and grow positive intercultural relationships.  

Relating Theory to Real Life

Consider the definition of culture: 

  • What cultures do you feel you are a part of? What beliefs, attitudes, values, traditions, and behaviours represent your cultures?
  • What cultures do you see within your own family?
  • What cultural groups will you encounter in your future professional role?
  • What will you need to learn to be a competent intercultural communicator in the workplace?

Ethical Communication in the Workplace

As demonstrated by the communication models presented earlier in this chapter, when we communicate, there is an immediate impact on others. This means communication has broad ethical implications. Not only do we need to learn how to communicate, but we also need to become ethical communicators by learning how to communicate the “right” way. But what does that look like?

Communication ethics deals with the process of negotiating and reflecting on our actions and communication regarding what we believe to be right and wrong. For example, we may make the choice to communicate our opinions about education to others. We would undergo a process of negotiating the ethics of this decision, such as to whom is it okay to communicate our opinions? When is it appropriate to tell others about our personal opinions? What details about our opinions is it okay to share? What is the right method for sharing our opinion? In communication ethics, we are more concerned with the decisions people make about communicating what is right and wrong than the systems, philosophies, or religions that inform those decisions. Much of ethics is a grey area. Although we talk about making decisions in terms of what is right and what is wrong, the choice is rarely that simple. Aristotle said that we should act “to the right extent, at the right time, with the right motive, and in the right way.” This quote connects to communication competence, which focuses on communicating effectively and appropriately.

We all make choices daily that are more ethical or less ethical, and we may confidently make a decision only to learn later that it wasn’t the most ethical option. In any given situation, multiple options may seem appropriate, but we can only choose one. If, in a situation, we make a decision and reflect on it, and then realize we could have made a more ethical choice, does that make us a bad person? Although many behaviours can be easily labelled as ethical or unethical, communication isn’t always as clear. Physically assaulting someone is generally thought of as unethical and illegal, but many instances of hurtful speech, or even what some would consider hate speech, have been protected as free speech. This shows the complicated relationship between protected speech, ethical speech, and the law. In some cases, people see it as their ethical duty to communicate information that they feel is in the public’s best interest. The people behind WikiLeaks, for example, have released thousands of classified documents related to wars, intelligence gathering, and diplomatic communication. WikiLeaks claims that exposing this information forces politicians and leaders to be accountable and keeps the public informed, but government officials claim that the release of the information should be considered a criminal act. Both parties consider their own communication ethical and the other’s communication unethical, so who is right?

is speech the most important component of communication

Since many of the choices we make when it comes to ethics are situational, contextual, and personal, various professional fields have developed codes of ethics to help guide members through areas that might otherwise be grey or uncertain. A profession’s code of ethics describes what ethical behaviours , including communication, are expected of any member of the profession . Table 1.2 below lists a few examples of professions and which communication behaviours are considered ethical and expected as described in that  profession’s code of ethics . Looking across different professions, we can see that ethical communication is expected in all service areas and that communication skills are key to meeting professional standards.

Table 1.2. Professional Organizations and Ethical Communication Expectation

  • What situations might arise in your future professional role that will require you to communicate ethically?
  • Why is it important for you , others, your workplace, and your community to be co nfident in communicating ethically ?

Dynamic Communication Skills Are Needed in Current Workplaces

Communication is key to your success in your current workplace.

Your current ability to communicate comes from past experience, which can be an effective teacher. Now is the time to examine your current skillset and compare it to current workplace needs and skills that have been proven necessary when working on teams. “Great teams are distinguished from good teams by how effectively they communicate. Great team communication is more than the words that are said or written. Power is leveraged by the team’s ability to actively listen, clarify, understand, and live by the principle that ‘everything communicates.’ The actions, the tone, the gestures, the infrastructure, the environment, and the things that are not done or said speak and inform just as loudly as words” (O’Rourke & Yarbrough, 2008).

Workplace environments have evolved. An article in the Harvard Business Review states that current workplace teams are more “diverse, dispersed, digital, and dynamic (with frequent changes in membership). But while teams face new hurdles, their success still hinges on a core set of fundamentals for group collaboration” (Haas & Mortensen, 2016). Haas and Mortensen further describe four conditions that need to be established for effective collaboration: compelling direction (when a team establishes explicit goals), strong structure (the team has the right mix of members, and the right processes and norms in place to guide behaviour), supportive context (the team has a reward system, an information system, and an educational system in place to enable progress), and a shared mindset (when a team develops a common identity and understanding). Communication is central to establishing all four conditions. Effective teams and groups in current workplace environments need effective communication. Now is the time to consider what communication skills you have and which ones you need to grow to effectively contribute to your future team. 

Communication Merges You and Them

When we join a workplace team, communication is a non-negotiable skill in a complex environment. Being able to communicate allows us to share a part of ourselves, connect with others, and meet our needs on a team. Being unable to communicate might mean losing, hiding, or minimizing a part of yourself. Sharing with others feels vulnerable. For some, this may be a positive challenge, whereas for others it may be discouraging, but in all cases, your ability to communicate is central to your expression of self.

is speech the most important component of communication

On the other side of the coin, your communication skills help you understand others on a team—not just their words, but also their tone of voice, their nonverbal gestures, and the format of their written documents provide you with clues about who they are and what their values and priorities may be. Expressing yourself and understanding others are key functions of an effective team member and part of the process of becoming an effective team (Image 1.13).  

Communication Influences How You Learn

You need to begin the process of improving your communication skills with the frame of mind that it will require effort, persistence, and self-correction. You learn to speak in public by first having conversations, then by answering questions and expressing your opinions in class, and finally by preparing and delivering a “stand-up” speech. Similarly, you learn to write by first learning to read, then by writing and learning to think critically. Your speaking and writing are reflections of your thoughts, experience, and education, and part of that combination is your level of experience listening to other speakers, reading documents and various styles of writing, and studying formats similar to what you aim to produce. Speaking and writing are both key communication skills that you will use in teams and groups.

As you study group communication, you may receive suggestions for improvement and clarification from professionals more experienced than yourself. Take their suggestions as challenges to improve—don’t give up when your first speech or first draft does not communicate the message you intended. Stick with it until you get it right. Your success in communicating is a skill that applies to almost every field of work, and it makes a difference in your relationships with others. Remember that luck is simply a combination of preparation and timing. You want to be prepared to communicate well when given the opportunity. Each time you do a good job, your success will bring more success.

Communication Represents You and Your Employer

You want to make a good first impression on your friends and family, on your instructors, and on your employer. They all want you to convey a positive image because it reflects on them. In your career, you will represent your business or company in teams and groups, and your professionalism and attention to detail will reflect positively on you and set you up for success.

As an effective member of the team, you will benefit from having the ability to communicate clearly and with clarity. You will use these skills for the rest of your life. Positive improvements in these skills will have a positive impact on your relationships, your prospects for employment, and your ability to make a difference in the world.

Communication Skills Are Desired by Business and Industry

Oral and written communication proficiencies are consistently ranked in the top 10 desirable skills by employer surveys year after year. In fact, high-powered business executives sometimes hire consultants to coach them in sharpening their communication skills. According to the National Association of Colleges Job Outlook 2023 survey (Gray, 2022), the top five attributes that employers seek on a candidate’s resumé are the following:

  • Problem-solving skills
  • Ability to work on a team
  • Strong work ethic
  • Analytical and quantitative skills
  • Written communication skills
  • Technical skills

Knowing this, you can see that one way for you to be successful and increase your promotion potential is to improve your ability to speak and write effectively.

Teams and groups are almost universal across all fields because no one person has all the skills, knowledge, or ability to do everything with an equal degree of excellence. Employees work with each other in manufacturing and service industries on a daily basis. An individual with excellent communication skills is an asset to every organization. No matter what career you plan to pursue, learning to interact, contribute, and excel in groups and teams will help you get there.

Digital and Electronic Communication Are Here to Stay

Computers and the internet entered the world in the 1940s and have been on the rise ever since. According to Jotform (2021), a global pandemic necessitated the use of digital and electronic communication because people were required to work from home as much as possible. Digital and electronic communication tools such as video-conferencing platforms, cloud storage, messaging platforms, and digital forms are now widely used and easily accessible. It’s not clear yet what digital and electronic communication methods will remain in use; however, because of their prevalence, we need to consider our communication skills in these digital and electronic environments.

Netiquette refers to etiquette, or protocols and norms for communication, when communicating using digital and electronic methods. Whatever digital device you use, written communication in the form of brief messages, or texting, has become a practical way to connect when talking on the phone or when meeting in person would be cumbersome. Texting is not useful for long or complicated messages, and careful consideration should be given to the audience. Email is frequently used to communicate among co-workers and has largely replaced print hard-copy letters for external (outside the company) correspondence, as well as taking the place of memos for internal (within the company) communication (Guffey, 2008). Email can be very useful for messages that have slightly more content than a text message, but it is still best used for fairly brief messages. Emails may be informal in personal contexts, but business communication requires attention to detail, an awareness that your email reflects you and your company, and a professional tone so that the email may be forwarded to a third party, if needed. Remember that when these tools are used for business, they need to convey professionalism and respect.

  • Knowing what communication skills employers and current workplace environments require, what skills are you strong in right now? What skills do you need to develop?
  • How do you see face-to-face and digital and electronic communication skills being similar and/or different? Where do you see face-to-face and digital and electronic communication in your future professional role?


Unless otherwise indicated, material on this page has been reproduced or adapted from the following resource:

University of Minnesota. (2016).  Communication in the real world: An introduction to communication studies . University of Minnesota Libraries Publishing. https://open.lib.umn.edu/communication , licensed under CC BY-NC-SA 4.0 , except where otherwise noted.

Alberta Health Services (AHS). (2023). Ethics & compliance . https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/about/Page645.aspx

Alberta Health Services (AHS). (2016). Code of conduct . https://www.albertahealthservices.ca/assets/about/policies/ahs-pub-code-of-conduct.pdf

Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association (ATRA). (2021). Code of ethics: A guide for ethical and moral decision-making for recreational therapists . https://www.alberta-tr.ca/media/91513/codeofethics11may2021.pdf

Bourque, T., & Horney, B. (2016). Principles of veterinary medical ethics of the CVMA . Canadian Veterinary Medical Association. https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/about-cvma/principles-of-veterinary-medical-ethics-of-the-cvma/

Canadian Veterinary Medical Association (CVMA). (2016). Principles of veterinary medical ethics of the CVMA . https://www.canadianveterinarians.net/media/o5qjghc0/principles-of-veterinary-medical-ethics-of-the-cvma.pdf

Child and Youth Care Association of Alberta (CYCAA). (2008). Code of ethics . https://www.cycaa.com/about-us/code-of-ethics

College of Alberta Dental Assistants (CADA). (2019). Code of ethics . http://abrda.ca/protecting-the-public/regulations-and-standards/code-of-ethics/

Cyr, C., Helgason, E., Appleton, K., & Yunick, A. (2021). Code of ethics: A guide for ethical and moral decision-making for recreation therapists . Alberta Therapeutic Recreation Association. https://www.alberta-tr.ca/media/91513/codeofethics11may2021.pdf

Ehrlich, T. (Ed.). (2000). Civic responsibility and higher education . Oryx Press.

Government of Alberta. (2023). Code of conduct and ethics for the Alberta Public Service . https://www.alberta.ca/code-of-conduct-and-ethics-for-the-alberta-public-service.aspx

Graduate Management Admission Council. (2017). Corporate recruiters survey report 2017 .  https://www.mba.com/-/media/files/gmac/research/employment-outlook/2017-gmac-corporate-recruiters-web-release.pdf?la=en

Gray, K. (2022, November 15). As their focus on GPA fades, employers seek key skills on college grads’ resumes . National Association of Colleges and Employers (NACE). https://www.naceweb.org/talent-acquisition/candidate-selection/as-their-focus-on-gpa-fades-employers-seek-key-skills-on-college-grads-resumes/

Guffey, M. (2008).  Essentials of business communication (7th ed.). Thomson/Wadsworth.

Haas, M., & Mortensen, M. (2016, June). The secrets of great teamwork . Harvard Business Review. https://hbr.org/2016/06/the-secrets-of-great-teamwork

Jotform. (2021, December 8). How technology has changed workplace communication . https://www.jotform.com/blog/technology-and-workplace-communication/

O’Rourke, J., & Yarbrough, B. (2008). Leading groups and teams . South-Western Cengage Learning.

Pearson, J., & Nelson, P. (2000). An introduction to human communication: Understanding and sharing . McGraw-Hill.

Rogers, E., & Steinfatt, T. (1999). I ntercultural communication . Waveland Press.

Therapy Assistant Association of Alberta (ThAAA). (2012). Code of ethics . http://thaaa.ca/wp-content/uploads/2019/08/ThAAA_Code-of-Ethics.pdf

Zabava Ford, W. S., & Wolvin, A. D. (1993). The differential impact of a basic communication course on perceived communication competencies in class, work, and social contexts. Communication Education, 42 (3), 215–223. https://doi.org/10.1080/0363452930937892

Image Credits (images are listed in order of appearance)

Figure 6. Graduation by Hippo px  by U3167879, CC BY-SA 4.0

Protest-sofia-incinerator  by 008all, CC BY-SA 4.0

Group of students in front of the DARM  by Violetova , CC BY-SA 4.0

Meaning of ETHICS101  by Pokemon1244, CC BY-SA 4.0

Teamwork Skills Training Workplace Illustration  by Digits.co.uk Images , CC BY 2.0

Introduction to Communications Copyright © 2023 by NorQuest College is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

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9.4 Outlining

Learning objectives.

  • Explain the principles of outlining.
  • Create a formal outline.
  • Explain the importance of writing for speaking.
  • Create a speaking outline.

Think of your outline as a living document that grows and takes form throughout your speech-making process. When you first draft your general purpose, specific purpose, and thesis statement, you could create a new document on your computer and plug those in, essentially starting your outline. As you review your research and distill the information down into separate central ideas that support your specific purpose and thesis, type those statements into the document. Once you’ve chosen your organizational pattern and are ready to incorporate supporting material, you can quote and paraphrase your supporting material along with the bibliographic information needed for your verbal citations into the document. By this point, you have a good working outline, and you can easily cut and paste information to move it around and see how it fits into the main points, subpoints, and sub-subpoints. As your outline continues to take shape, you will want to follow established principles of outlining to ensure a quality speech.

The Formal Outline

The formal outline is a full-sentence outline that helps you prepare for your speech. It includes the introduction and conclusion, the main content of the body, key supporting materials, citation information written into the sentences in the outline, and a references page for your speech. The formal outline also includes a title, the general purpose, specific purpose, and thesis statement. It’s important to note that an outline is different from a script. While a script contains everything that will be said, an outline includes the main content. Therefore you shouldn’t include every word you’re going to say on your outline. This allows you more freedom as a speaker to adapt to your audience during your speech. Students sometimes complain about having to outline speeches or papers, but it is a skill that will help you in other contexts. Being able to break a topic down into logical divisions and then connect the information together will help ensure that you can prepare for complicated tasks or that you’re prepared for meetings or interviews. I use outlines regularly to help me organize my thoughts and prepare for upcoming projects.


Outlining provides a scaffolding, or structure, that will help ensure your speech is logical, coherent, and organized.

Wikimedia Commons – CC BY 2.0.

Principles of Outlining

There are principles of outlining you can follow to make your outlining process more efficient and effective. Four principles of outlining are consistency, unity, coherence, and emphasis (DuBois, 1929). In terms of consistency, you should follow standard outlining format. In standard outlining format, main points are indicated by capital roman numerals, subpoints are indicated by capital letters, and sub-subpoints are indicated by Arabic numerals. Further divisions are indicated by either lowercase letters or lowercase roman numerals.

The principle of unity means that each letter or number represents one idea. One concrete way to help reduce the amount of ideas you include per item is to limit each letter or number to one complete sentence. If you find that one subpoint has more than one idea, you can divide it into two subpoints. Limiting each component of your outline to one idea makes it easier to then plug in supporting material and helps ensure that your speech is coherent. In the following example from a speech arguing that downloading music from peer-to-peer sites should be legal, two ideas are presented as part of a main point.

  • Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs helps market new music and doesn’t hurt record sales.

The main point could be broken up into two distinct ideas that can be more fully supported.

  • Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs helps market new music.
  • Downloading music using peer-to-peer file-sharing programs doesn’t hurt record sales.

Following the principle of unity should help your outline adhere to the principle of coherence, which states that there should be a logical and natural flow of ideas, with main points, subpoints, and sub-subpoints connecting to each other (Winans, 1917). Shorter phrases and keywords can make up the speaking outline, but you should write complete sentences throughout your formal outline to ensure coherence. The principle of coherence can also be met by making sure that when dividing a main point or subpoint, you include at least two subdivisions. After all, it defies logic that you could divide anything into just one part. Therefore if you have an A , you must have a B , and if you have a 1 , you must have a 2 . If you can easily think of one subpoint but are having difficulty identifying another one, that subpoint may not be robust enough to stand on its own. Determining which ideas are coordinate with each other and which are subordinate to each other will help divide supporting information into the outline (Winans, 1917). Coordinate points are on the same level of importance in relation to the thesis of the speech or the central idea of a main point. In the following example, the two main points (I, II) are coordinate with each other. The two subpoints (A, B) are also coordinate with each other. Subordinate points provide evidence or support for a main idea or thesis. In the following example, subpoint A and subpoint B are subordinate to main point II. You can look for specific words to help you determine any errors in distinguishing coordinate and subordinate points. Your points/subpoints are likely coordinate when you would connect the two statements using any of the following: and , but , yet , or , or also . In the example, the word also appears in B, which connects it, as a coordinate point, to A. The points/subpoints are likely subordinate if you would connect them using the following: since , because , in order that , to explain , or to illustrate . In the example, 1 and 2 are subordinate to A because they support that sentence.

  • They conclude that the rapid increase in music downloading over the past few years does not significantly contribute to declining record sales.
  • Their research even suggests that the practice of downloading music may even have a “slight positive effect on the sales of the top albums.”
  • A 2010 Government Accountability Office Report also states that sampling “pirated” goods could lead consumers to buy the “legitimate” goods.

The principle of emphasis states that the material included in your outline should be engaging and balanced. As you place supporting material into your outline, choose the information that will have the most impact on your audience. Choose information that is proxemic and relevant, meaning that it can be easily related to the audience’s lives because it matches their interests or ties into current events or the local area. Remember primacy and recency discussed earlier and place the most engaging information first or last in a main point depending on what kind of effect you want to have. Also make sure your information is balanced. The outline serves as a useful visual representation of the proportions of your speech. You can tell by the amount of space a main point, subpoint, or sub-subpoint takes up in relation to other points of the same level whether or not your speech is balanced. If one subpoint is a half a page, but a main point is only a quarter of a page, then you may want to consider making the subpoint a main point. Each part of your speech doesn’t have to be equal. The first or last point may be more substantial than a middle point if you are following primacy or recency, but overall the speech should be relatively balanced.

Sample Formal Outline

The following outline shows the standards for formatting and content and can serve as an example as you construct your own outline. Check with your instructor to see if he or she has specific requirements for speech outlines that may differ from what is shown here.

Title: The USA’s Neglected Sport: Soccer

General purpose: To persuade

Specific purpose: By the end of my speech, the audience will believe that soccer should be more popular in the United States.

Thesis statement: Soccer isn’t as popular in the United States as it is in the rest of the world because people do not know enough about the game; however, there are actions we can take to increase its popularity.



Introduction of topic: If you’ve ever heard this excited yell coming from your television, then you probably already know that my speech today is about soccer.

Credibility and relevance: Like many of you, I played soccer on and off as a kid, but I was never really exposed to the culture of the sport. It wasn’t until recently, when I started to watch some of the World Cup games with international students in my dorm, that I realized what I’d been missing out on. Soccer is the most popular sport in the world, but I bet that, like most US Americans, it only comes on your radar every few years during the World Cup or the Olympics. If, however, you lived anywhere else in the world, soccer (or football, as it is more often called) would likely be a much larger part of your life.

Preview: In order to persuade you that soccer should be more popular in the United States, I’ll explain why soccer isn’t as popular in the United States and describe some of the actions we should take to change our beliefs and attitudes about the game.

Transition: Let us begin with the problem of soccer’s unpopularity in America.

  • The president of FIFA, which is the international governing body for soccer, was quoted in David Goldblatt’s 2008 book, The Ball is Round , as saying, “Football is as old as the world…People have always played some form of football, from its very basic form of kicking a ball around to the game it is today.”
  • Basil Kane, author of the book Soccer for American Spectators , reiterates this fact when he states, “Nearly every society at one time or another claimed its own form of kicking game.”
  • Our own “national sports” such as football, basketball, and baseball take up much of our time and attention, which may prevent people from engaging in an additional sport.
  • Comparatively, 34 percent of those surveyed said that football was their favorite sport to watch.
  • In fact, soccer just barely beat out ice skating, with 3 percent of the adults surveyed indicating that as their favorite sport to watch.
  • According to the 2009 article from BleacherReport.com, “An American Tragedy: Two Reasons Why We Don’t Like Soccer,” the average length of a play in the NFL is six seconds, and there is a scoring chance in the NBA every twenty-four seconds.
  • This stands in stark comparison to soccer matches, which are played in two forty-five-minute periods with only periodic breaks in play.
  • The BleacherReport article also points out that unlike with football, basketball, and baseball—all sports in which the United States has most if not all the best teams in the world—we know that the best soccer teams in the world aren’t based in the United States.
  • We also expect that sports will offer the same chances to compare player stats and obsess over data that we get from other sports, but as Chad Nielsen of ESPN.com states, “There is no quantitative method to compare players from different leagues and continents.”
  • Last, as legendary sports writer Frank Deford wrote in a 2012 article on Sports Illustrated ’s website, Americans don’t like ties in sports, and 30 percent of all soccer games end tied, as a draw, deadlocked, or nil-nil.

Transition: Although soccer has many problems that it would need to overcome to be more popular in the United States, I think there are actions we can take now to change our beliefs and attitudes about soccer in order to give it a better chance.

  • Fans argue every day, in bars and cafés from Baghdad to Bogotá, about statistics for goals and assists, but as Nielsen points out, with the game of soccer, such stats still fail to account for varieties of style and competition.
  • So even though the statistics may be different, bonding over or arguing about a favorite team or player creates communities of fans that are just as involved and invested as even the most loyal team fans in the United States.
  • The fact that soccer statistics aren’t poured over and used to make predictions makes the game more interesting.
  • The fact that the segments of play in soccer are longer and the scoring lower allows for the game to have a longer arc, meaning that anticipation can build and that a game might be won or lost by only one goal after a long and even-matched game.
  • There is most likely a minor or even a major league soccer stadium team within driving distance of where you live.
  • You can also go to soccer games at your local high school, college, or university.
  • We can also join the rest of the world in following some of the major soccer celebrities—David Beckham is just the tip of the iceberg.
  • Soccer can easily be the most athletic sport available to Americans.
  • In just one game, the popular soccer player Gennaro Gattuso was calculated to have run about 6.2 miles, says Carl Bialik, a numbers expert who writes for The Wall Street Journal .
  • A press release on FIFA’s official website notes that one hour of soccer three times a week has been shown in research to provide significant physical benefits.
  • If that’s not convincing enough, the website ScienceDaily.com reports that the Scandinavian Journal of Medicine and Science in Sports published a whole special issue titled Football for Health that contained fourteen articles supporting the health benefits of soccer.
  • The nongovernmental organization Soccer for Peace seeks to use the worldwide popularity of soccer as a peacemaking strategy to bridge the divides of race, religion, and socioeconomic class.
  • Over those ten years the organization has focused on using soccer to bring together people of different religious faiths, particularly people who are Jewish and Muslim.
  • In 2012, three first-year college students, one Christian, one Jew, and one Muslim, dribbled soccer balls for 450 miles across the state of North Carolina to help raise money for Soccer for Peace.
  • A press release on the World Association of Nongovernmental Organizations’s official website states that from the dusty refugee camps of Lebanon to the upscale new neighborhoods in Buenos Aires, “soccer turns heads, stops conversations, causes breath to catch, and stirs hearts like virtually no other activity.”

Transition to conclusion and summary of importance: In conclusion, soccer is a sport that has a long history, can help you get healthy, and can bring people together.

Review of main points: Now that you know some of the obstacles that prevent soccer from becoming more popular in the United States and several actions we can take to change our beliefs and attitudes about soccer, I hope you agree with me that it’s time for the United States to join the rest of the world in welcoming soccer into our society.

Closing statement: The article from BleacherReport.com that I cited earlier closes with the following words that I would like you to take as you leave here today: “We need to learn that just because there is no scoring chance that doesn’t mean it is boring. We need to see that soccer is not for a select few, but for all. We only need two feet and a ball. We need to stand up and appreciate the beautiful game.”

Araos, C. (2009, December 10). An American tragedy: Two reasons why we don’t like soccer. Bleacher Report: World Football . Retrieved from http://bleacherreport.com/articles/306338-an-american-tragedy-the-two-reasons-why-we-dont-like-soccer

Bialik, C. (2007, May 23). Tracking how far soccer players run. WSJ Blogs: The Numbers Guy . Retrieved from http://blogs.wsj.com/numbersguy/tracking-how-far-soccer-players-run-112

Deford, F. (2012, May 16). Americans don’t like ties in sports. SI.com : Viewpoint. Retrieved from http://sportsillustrated.cnn.com/2012/writers/frank_deford/05/16/Americans-do-not-like-ties/index.html

FIFA.com (2007, September 6). Study: Playing football provides health benefits for all. Retrieved from http://www.fifa.com/aboutfifa/footballdevelopment/medical/news/newsid=589317/index.html

Goldblatt, D. (2008). The ball is round: A global history of soccer . New York, NY: Penguin.

Kane, B. (1970). Soccer for American spectators: A fundamental guide to modern soccer . South Brunswick, NJ: A. S. Barnes.

Nielsen, C. (2009, May 27). “What I do is play soccer.” ESPN . Retrieved from http://sports.espn.go.com/espn/news/story?id=4205057

Pew Research Center. (2006, June 14). Americans to rest of world: Soccer not really our thing. Pew Research Center . Retrieved from http://pewresearch.org/pubs/315/americans-to-rest-of-world-soccer-not-really-our-thing

ScienceDaily.com. (2010, April 7). Soccer improves health, fitness, and social abilities. ScienceDaily.com: Science news . Retrieved from http://www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2010/04/100406093524.htm

Selle, R. R. (n.d.). Soccer for peace. Wango.org: News . Retrieved from http://www.wango.org/news/news/psmp.htm

Soccer For Peace. (2012). Kicking across Carolina. SFP news . Retrieved from http://www.soccerforpeace.com/2012-10-03-17-18-08/sfp-news/44-kicking-across-carolina.html

Examples of APA Formatting for References

The citation style of the American Psychological Association (APA) is most often used in communication studies when formatting research papers and references. The following examples are formatted according to the sixth edition of the APA Style Manual. Links are included to the OWL Purdue website, which is one of the most credible online sources for APA format. Of course, to get the most accurate information, it is always best to consult the style manual directly, which can be found in your college or university’s library.

For more information on citing books in APA style on your references page, visit http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/08 .

Single Author

Two Authors

Warren, J. T., & Fassett, D. L. (2011). Communication: A critical/cultural introduction . Los Angeles, CA: Sage.

Chapter from Edited Book

Mumby, D. K. (2011). Power and ethics. In G. Cheney, S. May, & D. Munshi (Eds.), The handbook of communication ethics (pp. 84–98). New York, NY: Routledge.


For more information on citing articles from periodicals in APA style on your references page, visit http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/07 .

Huang, L. (2011, August 1). The death of English (LOL). Newsweek, 152 (6), 8.

Kornblum, J. (2007, October 23). Privacy? That’s old-school: Internet generation views openness in a different way. USA Today , 1D–2D.

Journal Article

Bodie, G. D. (2012). A racing heart, rattling knees, and ruminative thoughts: Defining, explaining, and treating public speaking anxiety. Communication Education, 59 (1), 70–105.

Online Sources

For more information on citing articles from online sources in APA style on your references page, visit http://owl.english.purdue.edu/owl/resource/560/10 .

Online Newspaper Article

Perman, C. (2011, September 8). Bad economy? A good time for a steamy affair. USA Today . Retrieved from http://www.usatoday.com/money/economy/story/2011-09-10/economy-affairs-divorce-marriage/50340948/1

Online News Website

Fraser, C. (2011, September 22). The women defying France’s full-face veil ban. BBC News . Retrieved from http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-15023308

Online Magazine

Cullen, L. T. (2007, April 26). Employee diversity training doesn’t work. Time . Retrieved from http://www.time.com/time/magazine/article/0,9171,1615183,00.html

Government Document or Report Retrieved Online

Pew Research Center. (2010, November 18). The decline of marriage and rise of new families. Retrieved from http://pewsocialtrends.org/files/2010/11/pew-social-trends-2010-families.pdf

Kwintessential. (n.d.). Cross cultural business blunders. Retrieved from http://www.kwintessential.co.uk/cultural-services/articles/crosscultural-blunders.html

The Speaking Outline

The formal outline is a full-sentence outline that helps as you prepare for your speech, and the speaking outline is a keyword and phrase outline that helps you deliver your speech. While the formal outline is important to ensure that your content is coherent and your ideas are balanced and expressed clearly, the speaking outline helps you get that information out to the audience. Make sure you budget time in your speech preparation to work on the speaking outline. Skimping on the speaking outline will show in your delivery.


Using note cards for your speaking outline will help you be able to move around and gesture more freely than using full sheets of paper.

Justin See (coming back) – My Pile of Index Card – CC BY 2.0.

You may convert your formal outline into a speaking outline using a computer program. I often resave a file and then reformat the text so it’s more conducive to referencing while actually speaking to an audience. You may also choose, or be asked to, create a speaking outline on note cards. Note cards are a good option when you want to have more freedom to gesture or know you won’t have a lectern on which to place notes printed on full sheets of paper. In either case, this entails converting the full-sentence outline to a keyword or key-phrase outline. Speakers will need to find a balance between having too much or too little content on their speaking outlines. You want to have enough information to prevent fluency hiccups as you stop to mentally retrieve information, but you don’t want to have so much information that you read your speech, which lessens your eye contact and engagement with the audience. Budgeting sufficient time to work on your speaking outline will allow you to practice your speech with different amounts of notes to find what works best for you. Since the introduction and conclusion are so important, it may be useful to include notes to ensure that you remember to accomplish all the objectives of each.

Aside from including important content on your speaking outline, you may want to include speaking cues. Speaking cues are reminders designed to help your delivery. You may write “(PAUSE)” before and after your preview statement to help you remember that important nonverbal signpost. You might also write “(MAKE EYE CONTACT)” as a reminder not to read unnecessarily from your cards. Overall, my advice is to make your speaking outline work for you. It’s your last line of defense when you’re in front of an audience, so you want it to help you, not hurt you.

Writing for Speaking

As you compose your outlines, write in a way that is natural for you to speak but also appropriate for the expectations of the occasion. Since we naturally speak with contractions, write them into your formal and speaking outlines. You should begin to read your speech aloud as you are writing the formal outline. As you read each section aloud, take note of places where you had difficulty saying a word or phrase or had a fluency hiccup, then go back to those places and edit them to make them easier for you to say. This will make you more comfortable with the words in front of you while you are speaking, which will improve your verbal and nonverbal delivery.

Tips for Note Cards

  • The 4 × 6 inch index cards provide more space and are easier to hold and move than 3.5 × 5 inch cards.
  • Find a balance between having so much information on your cards that you are tempted to read from them and so little information that you have fluency hiccups and verbal fillers while trying to remember what to say.
  • Use bullet points on the left-hand side rather than writing in paragraph form, so your eye can easily catch where you need to pick back up after you’ve made eye contact with the audience. Skipping a line between bullet points may also help.
  • Include all parts of the introduction/conclusion and signposts for backup.
  • Include key supporting material and wording for verbal citations.
  • Only write on the front of your cards.
  • Do not have a sentence that carries over from one card to the next (can lead to fluency hiccups).
  • If you have difficult-to-read handwriting, you may type your speech and tape or glue it to your cards. Use a font that’s large enough for you to see and be neat with the glue or tape so your cards don’t get stuck together.
  • Include cues that will help with your delivery. Highlight transitions, verbal citations, or other important information. Include reminders to pause, slow down, breathe, or make eye contact.
  • Your cards should be an extension of your body, not something to play with. Don’t wiggle, wring, flip through, or slap your note cards.

Key Takeaways

  • The formal outline is a full-sentence outline that helps you prepare for your speech and includes the introduction and conclusion, the main content of the body, citation information written into the sentences of the outline, and a references page.
  • The principles of outlining include consistency, unity, coherence, and emphasis.
  • Coordinate points in an outline are on the same level of importance in relation to the thesis of the speech or the central idea of a main point. Subordinate points provide evidence for a main idea or thesis.
  • The speaking outline is a keyword and phrase outline that helps you deliver your speech and can include speaking cues like “pause,” “make eye contact,” and so on.
  • Write your speech in a manner conducive to speaking. Use contractions, familiar words, and phrases that are easy for you to articulate. Reading your speech aloud as you write it can help you identify places that may need revision to help you more effectively deliver your speech.
  • What are some practical uses for outlining outside of this class? Which of the principles of outlining do you think would be most important in the workplace and why?
  • Identify which pieces of information you may use in your speech are coordinate with each other and subordinate.
  • Read aloud what you’ve written of your speech and identify places that can be reworded to make it easier for you to deliver.

DuBois, W. C., Essentials of Public Speaking (New York: Prentice Hall, 1929), 104.

Winans, J. A., Public Speaking (New York: Century, 1917), 407.

Communication in the Real World Copyright © 2016 by University of Minnesota is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-ShareAlike 4.0 International License , except where otherwise noted.

The Basic Elements of the Communication Process

ThoughtCo / Hilary Allison

  • An Introduction to Punctuation
  • Ph.D., Rhetoric and English, University of Georgia
  • M.A., Modern English and American Literature, University of Leicester
  • B.A., English, State University of New York

Whenever you've had a conversation, texted a friend, or given a business presentation, you have engaged in communication . Any time two or more people get together to exchange messages, they are engaging in this basic process. Although it seems simple, communication is actually quite complex and has a number of components.

Communication Process Definition

The term communication process refers to the exchange of information (a message ) between two or more people. For communication to succeed, both parties must be able to exchange information and understand each other. If the flow of information is blocked for some reason or the parties cannot make themselves understood, then communication fails.

The communication process begins with the sender , who is also called the communicator or source . The sender has some kind of information — a command, request, question, or idea — that he or she wants to present to others. For that message to be received, the sender must first encode the message in a form that can be understood, such as by the use of a common language or industry jargon, and then transmit it.

The Receiver

The person to whom a message is directed is called the receiver or the interpreter . To comprehend the information from the sender, the receiver must first be able to receive the sender's information and then decode or interpret it. 

The Message

The message or content is the information that the sender wants to relay to the receiver. Additional subtext can be conveyed through body language and tone of voice. Put all three elements together — sender, receiver, and message — and you have the communication process at its most basic.

Also called the channel , the  medium  is the means by which a message is transmitted. Text messages, for example, are transmitted through the medium of cell phones.

The communication process reaches its final point when the message has been successfully transmitted, received, and understood. The receiver, in turn, responds to the sender, indicating comprehension. Feedback may be direct, such as a written or verbal response, or it may take the form of an act or deed in response (indirect).

Other Factors

The communication process isn't always so simple or smooth, of course. These elements can affect how information is transmitted, received, and interpreted:

  • Noise : This can be any sort of interference that affects the message being sent, received, or understood. It can be as literal as static over a phone line or radio or as esoteric as misinterpreting a local custom.
  • Context : This is the setting and situation in which communication takes place. Like noise, context can have an impact on the successful exchange of information. It may have a physical, social, or cultural aspect to it. In a private conversation with a trusted friend, you would share more personal information or details about your weekend or vacation, for example, than in a conversation with a work colleague or in a meeting.

The Communication Process in Action

Brenda wants to remind her husband, Roberto, to stop by the store after work and buy milk for dinner. She forgot to ask him in the morning, so Brenda texts a reminder to Roberto. He texts back and then shows up at home with a gallon of milk under his arm. But something's amiss: Roberto bought chocolate milk when Brenda wanted regular milk. 

In this example, the sender is Brenda. The receiver is Roberto. The medium is a text message. The code is the English language they're using. And the message itself is "Remember the milk!" In this case, the feedback is both direct and indirect. Roberto texts a photo of milk at the store (direct) and then came home with it (indirect). However, Brenda did not see the photo of the milk because the message didn't transmit (noise) and Roberto didn't think to ask what kind of milk (context).

  • Definition and Examples of Senders in Communication
  • Noise and Interference in Various Types of Communication
  • Science Says You Should Leave the Period Out of Text Messages
  • A Receiver's Role in Clear, Effective Communication Is an Important One
  • Email Message
  • What Is a Message in Communication?
  • What Is Wei Xin?
  • What Does Medium Mean in the Communication Process?
  • Texting (Text Messaging)
  • The Power of Indirectness in Speaking and Writing
  • What Is Communication?
  • Spanish Cell Phone and Social Media Abbreviations and Vocabulary
  • History of Pagers and Beepers
  • Basic Parts of the Brain and Their Responsibilities
  • Use and Omission of Subject Pronouns in Spanish
  • Communicate With Special Education Parents

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Social Sci LibreTexts

3: Module 1: The Speech Communication Process

  • Last updated
  • Save as PDF
  • Page ID 82723
  • 3.10: PRCA-24 Pre-Test
  • 3.1: Module Introduction
  • 3.2: Greek Rhetoric
  • 3.3: Everyday Examples of Public Speaking
  • 3.4: Ability to Communicate: #1 Employer-Sought Skill
  • 3.5: Speech and My Personal Life?
  • 3.6: The Speech Communication Process
  • 3.7: Speech Anxiety
  • 3.8: Greetings and Introductions
  • 3.9: Discussion Board


  1. The Speech Communication Process

    Speaker. As you might imagine, the speaker is the crucial first element within the speech communication process. Without a speaker, there is no process. The speaker is simply the person who is delivering, or presenting, the speech. A speaker might be someone who is training employees in your workplace. Your professor is another example of a ...

  2. 1.2 The Process of Public Speaking

    Draw the major models of communication on a piece of paper and then explain how each component is important to public speaking. When thinking about your first speech in class, explain the context of your speech using DeVito's four dimensions: physical, temporal, social-psychological, and cultural.

  3. 3.6: The Speech Communication Process

    Most who study the speech communication process agree that there are several critical components present in nearly every speech. ... The important chapter concepts presented by your professor become the message during a lecture. ... For example, when you give a speech in your classroom, the classroom, or the physical location of your speech, is ...

  4. The 8 Key Elements of Highly Effective Speech

    So before you utter another word to another person, memorize this list of the 8 key elements of highly effective speech: Gentle eye contact. Kind facial expression. Warm tone of voice. Expressive ...

  5. Structuring the Speech

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  6. Eight Essential Components of Communication

    Eight Essential Components of Communication ... You may choose to save your most important point for last. The message also consists of the way you say it—in a speech, with your tone of voice, your body language, and your appearance—and in a report, with your writing style, punctuation, and the headings and formatting you choose. ...

  7. 1.2 The Communication Process

    Transmission Model of Communication. The transmission model of communication describes communication as a linear, one-way process in which a sender intentionally transmits a message to a receiver (Ellis & McClintock, 1990). This model focuses on the sender and message within a communication encounter. Although the receiver is included in the model, this role is viewed as more of a target or ...

  8. The Speech Communication Process

    Most who study the speech communication process agree that there are several critical components present in nearly every speech. We have chosen in this text to label these components using the following terms: ... That makes the job of the listener extremely important. Providing constructive feedback to speakers often helps the speaker improve ...

  9. 1.2: The Process of Communication

    A Definition of Communication. The root word of communication in Latin is the word communicare, which means to share or to make common (Weekley, 1967).Thus, we will define communication as the process of sharing information and feelings in such a way that understanding takes place.According to our definition, the speaker or source of the message conveys the message he or she intends to share ...

  10. Elements of the Communication Process

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  11. Role of Communication in Effective Public Speaking

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  12. 7 Elements of Speech Communication and Delivery

    Needs, Age, sex, marital status, race, geographic location, type of group (homogeneous or heterogeneous), education, trade, activity, and profession. The speaker should always adapt to the audience, both in their language and attire (as much as possible). #4. The channel.

  13. Why Communication Matters

    In communication, we develop, create, maintain, and alter our relationships. We communicate to work our way through family changes and challenges in verbal and non-verbal ways. I remember seeing a ...

  14. 1.1: Communication- Definition and The Communication Process

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  15. Models of Communication

    The first part of the model is the sender, and this is the person who is speaking. The second part of the model is the channel, which is the apparatus for carrying the message (i.e., the phone or TV). The third part of the model is the receiver, and this is the person who picks up the message. In this model, communication is seen as a one-way ...

  16. 7.4 Outlining Your Speech

    Speaking Outline. A speaking outline is the outline you will prepare for use when delivering the speech. The speaking outline is much more succinct than the preparation outline and includes brief phrases or words that remind the speakers of the points they need to make, plus supporting material and signposts (Beebe & Beebe, 2003).

  17. 1.4 The Importance of Communication

    Communication Skills Are Essential in All Areas of Life. Communication is used in virtually all aspects of everyday life. In order to explore how communication is integrated into all parts of our lives, let us divide up our lives into four spheres: academic, professional, personal, and civic. The se spheres overlap a n d influence one another.After all, our personal experience is brought into ...

  18. 9.4 Outlining

    There are principles of outlining you can follow to make your outlining process more efficient and effective. Four principles of outlining are consistency, unity, coherence, and emphasis (DuBois, 1929). In terms of consistency, you should follow standard outlining format. In standard outlining format, main points are indicated by capital roman ...

  19. The Basic Elements of the Communication Process

    The communication process reaches its final point when the message has been successfully transmitted, received, and understood. The receiver, in turn, responds to the sender, indicating comprehension. Feedback may be direct, such as a written or verbal response, or it may take the form of an act or deed in response (indirect).

  20. 3: Module 1: The Speech Communication Process

    3.6: The Speech Communication Process; 3.7: Speech Anxiety; 3.8: Greetings and Introductions; 3.9: Discussion Board; 3: Module 1: The Speech Communication Process is shared under a not declared license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by LibreTexts. Back to top; 2.1: I Need Help;

  21. Public Speaking: Chapter 13 Flashcards

    Nonverbal communication is communication based on a persons use of voice and body, rather than the words. There is a great deal of research showing that the impact of a speakers words is powerfully influenced by his or her nonverbal communication. What are the elements of good speech delivery? Directness, spontaneity, animation, vocal and ...

  22. communication & collaboration: communication basics Flashcards

    Nurses use communication throughout the nursing process. Place the communication statements in the correct order based on the nursing process. -the nurse asks the client if they have had any past surgeries. -the nurse analyses the client responses and determines that the client is afraid to have surgery. -the nurse talks with the client to ...