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Video for ethics or audience adaptation

The Simpsons: Season 20, episode 8

Link to episode description

Audience adaptation involves adjusting your message to reach your audience, but is not the same thing as telling an audience what it wants to hear. In this episode of “The Simpsons” is a scene where Lisa and Mr. Burns both make a persuasive appeal to the Springfield audience. Lisa’s impassioned plea to save the bees falls short when Mr. Burns manipulates the audience to achieve his goal.

Follow-up questions include: What more could Lisa have done to appeal to the audience? Did Mr. Burns break any ethical rules with his approach?


Tact is the art of making a point without making an enemy.

Howard Newton (via Michele Cushatt)

In-class activity for ethics, ethos, or research

This is a simple activity but I’ve found it to be very helpful with students who are less prepared to do research and unsure about giving source citations.

Bring in a bunch of newspaper pages. I would separate a Sunday newspaper into pages. Have them work alone or with a partner and scan the articles to find a first-reference source citation. Go over HOW the source is cited. What information is given about the source besides their name? Do you get a sense of their credibility? How? Did it take very long to do so? This is how sources should be cited in a speech as well…

Videoclip for ethics

Link to episode description

Simpsons: Season 9, episode 22

This episode has Homer doing a speech while running for town trash commissioner. It is a nice example of ethics violations in public speaking as he makes many promises that are clearly impossible to keep.

Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki

It is not enough to know …

It is not enough to know how to research and organize a speech and deliver it without passing out from fright; you must possess an attitude or heart that communicates a positive message to the minds and hearts of your listeners.

Randy Fujishin, author of “The Natural Speaker”

What this country needs …

What this country needs is more free speech worth listening to.

Hansell B. Duckett (this one may be apocryphal as I could not find out anything associated with this name except other quotes…)

Video for speech ethics

Video for speech ethics

What about Joan: Season 1, episode 5

This was a short-lived show (although I can’t imagine why a show about a speech teacher did not top the ratings!). If you can find it, there is a good clip in this episode that works for speech ethics and also for pathos.

Joan’s speech team has won a trip to a national competition but the school board has decided to cut funding for extracurricular activities and the team may not be able to go. In one scene, Joan and her assistant coach Alice practice speeches to give to the board in order to get the funding. Alice’s speech is an excellent example of why ethics matter in speech.

Video for speech ethics

Video for speech ethics

Simpsons: Season 13, episode 18

Early in this episode, a guest speaker comes to speak to the elementary students on Career Day. Geoff Jenkins is a cartoonist and gives a presentation that is completely inappropriate for the age of the students and the Career Day goals (however, there is nothing offensive in the clip). It nicely opens a discussion of what he does wrong and the ethical implications of such a presentation.

Photo courtesy of Simpsons Wiki