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Biases in Speeches


Frame of reference are emotional factors based on experiences in your upbringing.


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          Do you think you are biased? Are you completely middle of the road on your opinions or beliefs? Do you feel strongly about certain topics, positions or people? As you think about these questions, you begin to understand your possible personal biases. We all have biases. They are emotional factors in being human, being passionate and often based on your experiences and your upbringing (frame of reference). If being honest with yourself—yes, you probably have a few biases (we all do). Ask yourself—do they influence the way you speak, think or present ideas? Some examples of potential biases in speeches include: gender, sex, culture, race, ethnicity, sexual orientation, religion, familial status, education, etc. or even the lack of any of these factors. Biases can impact your credibility as a speaker.


          As a speaker, how can you work to address potential biases? Before speaking, you should learn about your audience, try to identify with different characteristics they may have. Understand your personal experience may not be shared by others and your viewpoint may not be a societal norm. Work to identify common values all people share such as the need for food, shelter, love, and compassion. Project these values (and others) as the middle ground to help your audience to see your viewpoint. If possible, avoid bias in your speech. Be honest in letting your audience know your background and potential bias, use sources that are as non-biased as possible. If you must use a biased source, acknowledge its bias. It is very difficult to remove our bias, but we must be honest with our audience in our arguments, evidence, and goals we have for them. Remembering you are acting as a teacher, lecturer, provider of information will help you remain neutral if your specific purpose is to inform the audience. However, if your goal is to persuade the audience, your bias may be beneficial, so always remember the overall goal of the speech. Be honest and know the audience’s perception of you as a valid speaker is important.

Review Questions

1) What is your personal frame of reference? What lead to you developing this frame?

2) What can you do to try to eliminate biases in speeches?

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