Supporting Materials

3.1.1

Supporting materials are information lending support, credence, or substance to your hypothesis, idea, thesis, goal, and/or outcome.

          Supporting materials are information lending support, credence, or substance to your hypothesis, idea, thesis, goal, and/or outcome. Supporting materials should highlight and add to your overall intent for your audience. In informative speeches, they add depth and explanation to your main points and ideas. Additionally, in a persuasive speech, they provide validation and evidence to your claims of fact, value, or a change in policy. Supporting materials function to add clarity, depth, persuasiveness, as well as make something more interesting and more connected for an audience. Your main point is nothing without evidence or support; it is only an assertion. Your evidence or supporting material proves your claim/hypothesis.

 

          The purpose of supporting materials is to:

  • Enhance your message/meaning

  • Add relevance to your message

  • Connect/target the audience

  • Provide clarity to your message

  • Provide depth to your meaning

  • Explain your ideas

  • Validate your arguments

 

          There are several types of supporting materials you can use in your speeches. In fact, a wide variety of supporting materials may be used within one speech. This allows you to target your audience’s different frames of reference and experience.

Examples

Examples show relationships between listener and ideas and exemplify commonalities with a speaker and audience. 

          Examples are the main substance of a speech. They bring the speech to life for your audience. They might be considered the “lifeblood” of your speech. They are one of the most effective forms of support for your speech. Examples can show relationships between listener and ideas and exemplify commonalities with a speaker and audience. They can be personal or experiential, based on the ideas you are supporting. You use examples to cement abstract ideas, to reinforce your idea or point, and to personalize your information to yourself or to your audience.

 

Examples can take three forms:

  • Extended: These are longer examples. They may also be thought of as narration or a story/anecdote supporting/referencing a point or idea. They may be used with complex information to help the audience understand.

  • Brief: These are very short examples. They are almost a “for instance” and are used to quickly give a point of reference or clarification to an idea or point.

  • Hypothetical: These are fictional/imaginary examples. They are made up to highlight ideas and information. They may be used to explain complex information or to help set a scene for the audience.

Statistics

Statistics are the use of numbers and data to support your ideas or information.

         Statistics is the use of numbers and data to support your ideas or information. You can find statistics to support almost any position, side, or view taken. But you must be wary of statistics—try not to overuse them, be sure to check them for accuracy, and validate the credibility of the source. Statistics must be relevant to your topic and audience. It may be beneficial to combine each statistic with an example to add a human element to the number.

Stories

Stories are narrations of varying length which exemplify your idea.

            Stories are like examples. They are narrations of varying length which exemplify your idea. Hypothetical or factual stories can humanize your speech and establish a deeper connection with your audience. There is a current wave of the value of stories and storytelling to share information. For each idea, point, or argument you make with your audience, there is probably a story you can tell that enhances and brings relevancy to your point.

Testimony

Testimony is evidence or information provided by a living person.

          Testimony is evidence or information provided by a living person. It can be used to add a human element to the speech, provide factual real-life information, and to persuade or dissuade an audience. There are two types of testimony:

 

  • Expert: This is testimony provided by learned, studied, and knowledgeable people on a subject. This person is someone who has studied the case or information.

    • Example: A professor in psychology may provide expert testimony in support of a patient seeking help.

  • Peer This testimony is given by a layperson. It is not necessarily researched or studied. It may be based on experiences, emotions, opinions, or feelings.

    • Example: You want your audience to support your plan for student government at your university, and you ask fellow classmates to tell their experiences with your plan.

 

          Testimony is great to include in speeches. However, you will need to be cautious to misquote someone or to change the meaning of the information. Furthermore, don’t quote someone out of context and always give credit to a source (when possible).

Review Questions

1) What is the purpose of supporting materials? 

2) A narration used to reinforce a point is a what? 

3) Why must you be wary of statistics? 

4) Hypothetical or factual stories can help do what with your audience?