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As you step to the lectern to speak, your listeners

begin to form impressions of you that will influence

how they respond to your speeches. Aristotle

called these impressions ethos. A person with high ethos

will be listened to with respect; therefore, ethos also is a

key ingredient in leadership. You can build your ethos by

helping listeners form favorable impressions of your competence,

integrity, goodwill, and dynamism. In this section,

we explore each of these components, including

ways you can encourage favorable impressions.


Competent speakers seem informed, intelligent, and well prepared. You can build a

perception of competence by selecting topics that you already know something

about and by doing the research necessary to qualify yourself as a responsible

speaker. You can further enhance your competence by quoting experts and citing

authorities who support your position. For example, if you are speaking on the link

between nutrition and heart disease, you might quote a prominent medical specialist

or a publication of the American Heart Association. One student introduced testimony

into her speech in this way: Dr. Milas Peterson heads the Heart Institute at

Harvard University. During his visit to our campus last week, I spoke with him about

this idea. He told me.... Note the competence-related elements in this example:

* The speaker specifies the qualifications of the expert.

* The testimony is recent.

* The connection between the expert and the speaker is direct.

* The speaker shows that she has prepared carefully for the speech.

When you cite authorities in this way, you are borrowing their ethos to

enhance your own. Such borrowed ethos enhances but does not replace your

own. Personal experience in the form of stories or examples also helps a speech

seem authentic, brings it to life, and makes you appear more competent. Been

there, done that can be a very effective strategy. Your competence is further

enhanced if your speech is well organized, if you use language correctly, and if

you make a polished presentation.

ESL: Ask ESL students what the

perceived qualities of a good

leader are in their countries.

Discuss the similarities and differences

between perceptions of

ethos by ESL and native students.

Have students make a list of subjects

on which they feel most

competent as they select topics

for their speeches.

ethos Those characteristics that make a

speaker appear honest, credible, powerful,

and appealing.

Write the names of two or three

public figures on the board. Ask

students to rate them in terms of

their competence, integrity,

goodwill, and dynamism.

Competence The perception of a

speaker as being informed, intelligent,

and well prepared.

Figure 3.2

58 Part One The Foundations of Public Speaking






The Components of Ethos

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 3 Your First Speech: An Overview of Speech Preparation 59


A speaker with integrity comes across as ethical and dependable. Listeners are more

receptive when speakers are straightforward and concerned about the consequences

of their words. You can encourage perceptions of integrity by presenting all sides of

an issue and then explaining why you have chosen your position. You should also

show that you are willing to follow your own advice. For example, in a speech that

calls for commitment to action, it should be clear that you are not asking more of

listeners than you would of yourself. The more you ask of the audience, the more

important your integrity becomes.

How can you build a reputation for integrity? One of our students, Mona

Goldberg, was preparing a speech on welfare reform. The more she learned about

the subject, the more convinced she became that budget cuts for welfare programs

were unwise. In her speech, Mona showed that she took her assignment seriously by

citing many authorities and statistics. She reviewed arguments both for and against

cutting the budget and then showed her audience why she was against reducing aid

to such programs. Finally, Mona revealed that her own family had had to live on

unemployment benefits at one time. I know the hurt, the loss of pride, the sense of

growing frustration. I didn t have to see them on the evening news. Her openness

showed that she was willing to trust her listeners to react fairly to this sensitive information.

The audience responded in kind by trusting her and what she had to say.

She had built an impression of herself as a person of integrity.


People of goodwill seem to have our interests at heart. They are not self-centered;

rather, they think and act in terms of what is good for the group or community to

which they belong. We like such people and enjoy their company, perhaps because

we feel that they like and enjoy us.

Audiences are more willing to accept ideas and

suggestions from speakers who radiate goodwill.6 A

smile and direct eye contact can signal listeners that

you want to communicate. Sharing your feelings as

well as your thoughts conveys the same message.

Speakers with goodwill also enjoy laughter at appropriate

moments, especially laughter directed at themselves.

Being able to talk openly and engagingly

about your mistakes can make you seem more

human and appealing as well as more confident.

The more speakers seem to be people of goodwill,

the more audiences want to identify with

them.7 Identification is the feeling of sharing or

closeness that can develop between speakers and listeners.

It typically occurs when you believe someone

is like you that you have the same outlook on life

or that you share similar backgrounds or values.

Identification is more difficult to establish when the

speaker and listener have different cultural backgrounds.

In such situations, speakers can invite

identification by telling stories or by using examples

that help listeners focus on the experiences or

integrity The quality of being ethical,

honest, and dependable.

Ask students to write a short

character sketch of someone

they know who exemplifies

integrity. Explore in class the

basis of integrity as revealed by

these sketches.

ESL: Goodwill is highly valued in

the American culture. Ask ESL

students if this trait is valued for

leadership in their cultures and

how it is defined.

goodwill The dimension of ethos by

which listeners perceive a speaker as

having their best interests at heart.

identification The feeling of sharing or

closeness that can develop between

speakers and listeners.

The character and personality of a speaker can influence how

well a message is received. Likeableness is an important component

of speaker ethos.

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

60 Part One The Foundations of Public Speaking

beliefs that they share. Even though she was speaking before a class that included

students from all sections of the United States, Marie DAniello encouraged identification

in her self-introductory speech by developing a theme everyone could

share family pride. At one moment in her speech, Marie pointed out how she

had drawn inspiration from her brother s athletic accomplishments:

When I think of glory, I think of my brother

Chris. I ll never forget his championship basketball

game. It s the typical buzzer beater

story: five seconds to go, down by one, Chris

gets the ball and he drives down the court,

he shoots, he scores! . . . I ll never forget

the headline, D Aniello saves the game!

D Aniello, hey wait, that s me. I m a D Aniello.

I could do this too. Maybe I can t play basketball

like Chris, but I can do other things well.

After this speech, which appears in Appendix B,

it was hard not to like Marie. This aura of goodwill,

combined with other favorable impressions of her

competence, integrity, and dynamism, created

respect for her point of view.

Goodwill and identification can also be enhanced

by moments of shared laughter. For example, Marcos

White, a point guard for the University of New Mexico

basketball team, endeared himself to listeners during

his first speech. Marcos introduced himself as the son

of an African American father and a Mexican mother:

I guess, he said, that makes me a Blaxican.

Audiences often identify with speakers who

talk or dress the way they do. They prefer speakers

You should dress nicely when you present your speech as a

sign of respect for your listeners and your assignment.

Ethics Alert! 3.1

The Ethics of Ethos

Speakers can create false impressions of themselves to further their ends. When these

deceptions are discovered, the speakers lose the trust of listeners. To build your ethos in ethical

ways, follow these guidelines:

those that some of your listeners may


6. Show how these differences might be


7. Demonstrate that you are willing to

follow your own advice.

8. Trust your listeners if you would have

them trust you.

Select a prominent public figure

and analyze his or her ethos.

Focus on how that person promotes

identification in public


1. Do enough research to speak responsibly.

2. Be sensitive to the impact of your words

on others.

3. Present all sides of an issue fairly before

explaining your position.

4. Be honest about where you stand on

your topic.

5. Acknowledge differences between your

own beliefs, values, and attitudes and

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 3 Your First Speech: An Overview of Speech Preparation 61

who use gestures, language, and facial expressions that are natural and unaffected.

However, you should speak a little more formally than you might in everyday

conversation. Similarly, you should dress nicely but not extravagantly for

your speech.


James Norton, who introduced his classmate Rosamond Wolford, confessed that he

was nervous before he gave his speech. He was not sure how it would be received,

and he worried that he might make a mistake. But when James stood to speak, he

seemed confident, decisive, and enthusiastic. In short, he exhibited dynamism the

perception that a person is energetic, enthusiastic, and in control of the situation.

Whatever he might have secretly felt, his audience responded only to what they

saw his commanding presence.

At first you may not feel confident about public speaking, but you should act as

though you are. If you appear self-assured, listeners will respond as though you are,

and you may find yourself becoming what you seem to be. In other words, you can

trick yourself into developing a very desirable trait! When you appear to be in control,

you also put listeners at ease. This feeling comes back to you as positive feedback

and further reinforces your confidence.

One of our students, John Scipio, was at first intimidated by the public speaking

situation, but John was blessed with two natural virtues: he was a large, imposing

person and he had a powerful voice. And then he found a subject he truly

believed in. When John presented his classroom tribute to the final speech of

Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., he radiated dynamism, in addition to competence,

goodwill, and integrity:

When I asked him during a telephone interview why he thought Dr. King

was such an effective leader, Ralph Abernathy said, He possessed a power

never before seen in a man of color. What was this power that he spoke

of? It was the power to persuade audiences and change opinions with his

words. It was the power of speech. In his speech, Dr. King had to give his

people hope and motivate them to go on. He spoke to all of us, but especially

to those of us in the Black community, when he said, Only when it is

dark enough can you see the stars. And when he talked of standing up to

the fire hoses in Birmingham, he said, There s a certain kind of fire that no

water can put out.

And on the last night of his life, with less than twenty-four hours to live,

he was still thinking not of himself, but of our nation: Let us move on, he

said, in these powerful days, these days of challenge, to make America what

it ought to be.

To appear dynamic, you must also be decisive. In persuasive speeches, you

should cover the important options available to your audience, but by the end of the

speech there should be no doubt as to where you stand and why. Your commitment

to your position must be strong.

Finally, you gain dynamism from the enthusiasm you bring to your speech.

Your face, voice, and gestures should indicate that you care about your subject

and about the audience. Your enthusiasm endorses your message. We discuss

more specific ways of projecting confidence, decisiveness, and enthusiasm in

Chapter 13.

dynamism The perception of a speaker as

confident, decisive, and enthusiastic.

Show a videotape of Dr. Martin

Luther King speaking. To demonstrate

how nonverbal language

contributes to the perception of

dynamism, play a portion of the

tape with the sound off. Ask students

to observe facial expressions

and gestures to analyze

their effectiveness.

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

62 Part One The Foundations of Public Speaking

Introducing Yourself or a Classmate:

An Application

One frequently used first speech assignment is to introduce yourself or a classmate.

The speech of introduction helps warm the classroom atmosphere, creates a sense

of community, and provides an opportunity for the speaker to build ethos.

The self-introductory assignment also has practical applications beyond the

classroom. In later life, you may be called on to introduce yourself or an organization

to which you belong. Typically, this introduction will be part of a longer

speech. When he spoke to the Democratic National Convention in 2004, Barack

Obama, then candidate for the U.S. Senate from Illinois, introduced himself as a

skinny kid with a funny name who believes that America has a place for him, too. 5

In the process, he established his potential for future national leadership. When the

commandant of the Coast Guard spoke before the National Press Club, he introduced

that branch of the military in order to raise the visibility of . . . current and

future Coast Guard service to America. 6

A classroom speech of introduction is usually short. Since there is no way to tell

an entire life story in a brief speech, you have to be selective. However, you should

avoid simply reciting a few superficial facts, such as where you went to high school

or what your major is. Such information reveals little about a person and is usually

not very interesting. One tried-and-true way to introduce yourself or others is to

answer this question: What is the one thing that best describes me or the other person as

a unique individual? You can then develop around the answer an effective speech that

builds positive ethos.

To help stimulate your creativity, conduct a self-awareness inventory in which

you consider the following possibilities:

1. Is your cultural background the most important thing about you? How has it

shaped you? How can you explain this influence to others? In her self-introductory

speech, reprinted in Appendix B, Sandra Baltz described herself as a unique product

of three cultures. She felt that this rich cultural background had widened her

self-awareness inventory A series of

questions that a speaker can ask to

develop an approach to a speech of


ESL: The speech by Sandra Baltz

in Appendix B illustrates the use

of cultural background from the

self-awareness inventory.

Suggest to ESL students that this

could be a very rich source of

ideas for their speeches as well.


LearnMore 3.1


Ethos (Ethical Proofs)


Highly readable discussion of ethos as one of the three major sources of persuasion, prepared by Yasmin

Hussain of the Georgia Institute of Technology.

Online Lesson: Ethos (Credibility)


Interactive lecture on ethos in sales persuasion, prepared by Kurt Billmeyer of Northern Arizona University.

Establishing Ethos Online


An interesting article, Email Debate and the Importance of Ethos, on developing ethos in online interactions,

prepared by Professor Allison Warriner, Department of English, California State University,

Hayward, as part of the Electronic Democracy Project.

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 3 Your First Speech: An Overview of Speech Preparation 63

horizons. Note how she focused on food to represent the convergence of these

different ways of life:

In all, I must say that being exposed to three very different cultures Latin,

Arabic, American has been rewarding for me and has made a difference even

in the music I enjoy and the food I eat. It is not unusual in my house to sit

down to a meal made up of stuffed grape leaves and refried beans and all

topped off with apple pie for dessert.

2. Is the most important thing about you the environment in which you grew up? How

were you shaped by it? What stories or examples illustrate this influence? How do

you feel about its effect on your life? Are you pleased by it, or do you feel that it

limited you? If the latter, what new horizons would you like to explore? In his

self-introductory speech, My Life as a River Rat, Jimmy Green concluded by


To share my world, come up to the Tennessee River some fall afternoon. We ll

take a boat ride north to New Johnsonville, where Civil War gunboats still lie

on the bottom of the river, and you will see how the sun makes the water

sparkle. You will see the green hills sloping down to the river, and the rocky

walls, and I will tell you some Indian legends about them. Then, we ll bump

the bottom fishing for catfish, just drifting with the current. And if we re

lucky, we might see a doe and her fawn along the shoreline, or perhaps some

great blue herons or an eagle overhead.

Jimmy s words conveyed his feelings about his childhood home without his having

to tell us about them.

3. Was there some particular person a friend, relative, or childhood hero who had a

major impact on your life? Why do you think this person had such influence? Often

you will find that some particular person was a great inspiration to you. Here is a

chance to share that inspiration, honor that person, and in the process, tell us much

about you. In his speech before the Democratic Convention, Barack Obama paid

tribute to his unique family and to their faith in American values:

Tonight is a particular honor for me because, let s face it, my presence on this

stage is pretty unlikely. My father was a foreign student, born and raised in a

small village in Kenya. He grew up herding goats, went to school in a tin-roof

shack. His father, my grandfather, was a cook, a domestic servant.

But my grandfather had larger dreams for his son. Through hard work and

perseverance my father got a scholarship to study in a magical place, America,

which stood as a beacon of freedom and opportunity to so many who had

come before. While studying here, my father met my mother. She was born in

a town on the other side of the world, in Kansas. Her father worked on oil rigs

and farms through most of the Depression. The day after Pearl Harbor he

signed up for duty, joined Patton s army and marched across Europe. Back

home, my grandmother raised their baby and went to work on a bomber

assembly line. . . .

And they, too, had big dreams for their daughter, a common dream, born of

two continents. My parents shared not only an improbable love; they shared an

abiding faith in the possibilities of this nation. They would give me an African

name, Barack, or blessed, believing that in a tolerant America your name is no

barrier to success. . . . They are both passed away now. Yet, I know that, on this

night, they look down on me with pride.

Caution students to avoid talkshow

or tabloid-like revelations.

You might wish to discuss the

idea of propriety in communication

at this time.

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

64 Part One The Foundations of Public Speaking

I stand here today, grateful for the diversity of my heritage. . . . I stand

here knowing that my story is part of the larger American story, that I owe a

debt to all of those who came before me, and that, in no other country on

earth, is my story even possible.7

4. Have you been marked by some unusual experience? What was it? Why was it important?

How did it affect you? What does this experience tell us about you as a person?

The speech at the end of this chapter emphasizes the power of personal experience

in shaping lives. Sabrina Karic tells how she survived the brutal ordeal of ethnic

cleansing as a child. Her experiences have made her appreciate the small things in

life that many of us may take for granted things like a chocolate bar.

Ashley Smith, whose speech appears in Appendix B, decided to speak on her

experiences as an exchange student in Costa Rica and Botswana. After she told stories

to illustrate how peoples lives were controlled and limited in those countries, Ashley

confided that her travel experiences had made her want to return as an educator:

I want to teach people to succeed on their merits despite the social and economic

inequalities that they re faced with. And I want to learn from them as

well. I want to teach the boy who never mastered welding that he could own

the factory. And I want him to teach me how to use a rice cooker. I want to

teach the girl who is exhausted each afternoon after walking to the river with

a jar on her head to gather water that she could design an irrigation system.

But I also want her to teach me how to weave a thatched roof. I want to travel

and teach and learn.

5. Are you best characterized by an activity that brings meaning to your life? Remember,

what is important is not the activity itself but how and why it affects you. The person

being introduced must remain the focus of the speech. When you finish, the

audience should have an interesting picture of you. When she conducted her selfawareness

inventory, Laura Haskins realized that her entire life was best described as

one frenetic activity. As she considered what it took to meet the demands of her family,

home, work, and her university classes, she discovered a very apt image that

became the central theme of her self-introductory speech:

Come one, come all, see the great juggler! See her juggle family, home, work,

college, whatever comes her way. I wasn t always this good. My juggling act

began when I enrolled in nursing school. My children were preschoolers then,

and I had to learn fast. . . .

Experience has taught me to plan, prioritize, adapt, and pass off to my

assistant, my husband, without missing a beat. Right now the International

Jugglers Association is reviewing my application for membership. I m a shoo-in,

because I m a magnificent juggler.

6. Is the work you do a major factor in making you who you are? If you select this

approach, focus on how your job has shaped you rather than simply describing

what you do. What have you learned from your work that has changed you or made

you feel differently about others? Richard Bushart was quite a spectacle as he stood

to present his self-introductory speech, wearing a big red nose, a coat with a floppy

bow tie, and a yellow wig that spiked in all directions. Actually, it was his work outfit

Richard was a clown! But those who were expecting a trivial or lighthearted

speech were in for a surprise: Richard wanted to talk about how being a clown had

admitted him into the wise and wonderful world of children.

An adult will think I m foolish, weird, or just insane. But to a child I m funny,

caring, and a friend. Children have taught me so much. . . . They have inspired

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 3 Your First Speech: An Overview of Speech Preparation 65

me to dream again and be creative. A child playing in the backyard can take a

broom and turn it one way and it s a horse waiting to ride. Turn it another way,

and it s a hockey stick. Turn it still another, and it becomes a telescope that can

see the universe.

Richard s work had taught him never to lose that childlike heart no matter how

old I get.

7. Are you best characterized by your goals or purpose in life? Listeners are usually fascinated

by those whose lives are dedicated to some purpose. If you choose to describe

some personal goal, be sure to emphasize why you have it and how it affects you.

Tom McDonald had returned to school after dropping out for eleven years. In his

self-introductory speech, he described his goal:

Finishing college means a lot to me now. The first time I enrolled, right out of

high school, I blew it. All I cared about was sports, girls, and partying. Even

though I have a responsible job that pays well, I feel bad about not having a

degree. My wife s diploma hangs on our den wall. All I have hanging there is a

stuffed duck!

As he spoke, many of the younger students began to identify with Tom; they saw a

similarity between what caused him to drop out of school and their own feelings

at times. Although he wasn t preachy, Toms description of the rigors of working

forty hours a week and carrying nine hours a semester in night school carried a

clear message.

8. Are you best described by a value that you hold dear? How did it come to have such

meaning for you? Why is it important to you? Values are abstract, so you must rely

on concrete applications to make them meaningful to others. As she described her

commitment to the value of justice, Valessa Johnson also established her goal, to

become an attorney, and paid tribute to her personal role model:

If you go down to 201 Poplar at nine o clock in the morning on any weekday,

you will find yourself faced with hundreds of individuals and their quest for

justice. Many of these will be convicted, and rightly so. Unfortunately, while

they re incarcerated, the illiterate and unlearned will remain so, as will the

unskilled and the uncrafted. Who s going to stand for these so that they have

an alternative to standing in the revolving doors of the criminal justice complex?

Or better yet, how about those who are truly innocent? Oh yes, that s

right, not everyone in the court system, not everyone institutionalized, is guilty.

Who is going to stand for these? I will.

You know, we were once blessed with a true advocate for justice, attorney

Barbara Jordan. She fought a long, hard battle to ensure that we all abided by

the constitutional creed All men are created equal and justice for all.

Someone has to continue to beat the path of justice for all men. That includes

black men, white men, yellow men, brown men, and women. Someone has

got to continue to fight the good fight. And I submit to you that I am that


When Valessa concluded, no one questioned the sincerity of her commitment to

justice and to her chosen career.

As you explore your own background or that of a classmate, we suggest that you

ask all the probe questions within the self-awareness inventory. Don t be satisfied

with the first idea that comes to you. You should find this thorough examination of

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

66 Part One The Foundations of Public Speaking

Many of us underrate our public speaking potential. As

you prepare your first speech, you can develop basic

skills in selecting and polishing speech topics, structuring

and outlining your speech, and practicing for presentation.

You can communicate favorable impressions

of yourself, useful for later speeches. You can contribute

to the transformation of the class into a learning community.

Preparing Your First Speech. Effective preparation

requires that you take a number of steps toward speech

success. First, select a topic that is appropriate to you,

your listeners, the assignment, and the time limits

assigned for your speech. Second, narrow and focus

your topic until you have a clear idea of your message

and of what you want to accomplish. Third, seek narratives,

examples, testimony, and facts and statistics that

will make your points interesting and credible. Fourth,

design your speech so that your ideas fit together in a

cohesive pattern. Often-used patterns for the first

speech are the categorical design, the cause-effect

design, and the narrative design. Develop an introduction,

body, and conclusion so that your speech forms a

satisfying whole. Provides transitions that link the various

parts of your speech. Fifth, outline your speech so

that you can check on the soundness of your design.

Sixth, practice your presentation. Develop an extemporaneous

presentation that avoids the faults of reading

and memorization. Keep the spotlight on your ideas,

and strive for a conversational presentation. Seventh,

step up and do it!

Managing the Impressions You Make. Listeners

acquire positive impressions of you on the basis of your

ability to convey competence, integrity, goodwill, and

dynamism. These qualities make up the ancient concept

of ethos. You can build your perceived competence by citing

examples from your own experience, by quoting

authorities, and by organizing and presenting your message

effectively. You can earn an image of integrity by

being accurate and complete in your presentation of

information. You can promote goodwill by being a warm

and likeable person who invites identification from listeners.

Dynamism arises from listeners perceptions of

you as a confident, enthusiastic, and decisive speaker.

Introducing Yourself or a Classmate. A speech of

introduction helps establish you or the person you

introduce as a unique person. Prompted by your selfawareness

inventory, it may focus on cultural background,

environmental influences, a person who

inspired you, an experience that affected you, an activity

that reveals your character, the work you do, your

purpose in life, or some value you cherish.

In Summary


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