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If you present yourself a…

If you present yourself as perfect – we will not believe you and we will hate you. We like you when we see that you are imperfect like we are.

George Torok, executive speech coach


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…

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”

Kindness has influenced m…

Kindness has influenced more people than eloquence.


There is nothing greater …

There is nothing greater than enthusiasm.

Henry Moore, sculptor

If I get you to laugh wit…

If I get you to laugh with me, you like me better, which makes you more open to my ideas. And if I can persuade you to laugh at the particular point I make, by laughing at it you acknowledge its truth.

John Cleese, actor and comedian

Video for supporting materials

Video for supporting materials

The Simpsons: Season 4, episode 12

This episode has a clip with a town meeting to discuss how to spend a large amount of money. The meeting is hijacked by a figure named Lyle Lanley, who promises the town a boon with a new monorail. In this parody of “The Music Man” it is apparent to all except the Springfield residents that he is a con artist. There are several follow-up questions for the students:

  • What are some of the warning signs that show us he is not trustworthy?
  • Is he backing up any of the claims he is making about the monorail?
  • What types of questions should the audience be asking before giving him the money?
  • What do you think happens?

It is a nice lead-in to discussing the importance of having good supporting materials to back up claims when speaking.

Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki.

Videoclip for teaching ethos

Videoclip for teaching ethos

The Simpsons: Season 5, episode 22

Homer is asked to teach a class on secrets of a successful marriage. Despite being very excited about the job (and buying a new jacket) he comes to class on the first day unprepared. The second day of class, he reads the wrong definition of “wedding” from the dictionary. A brief clip of these two scenes invites several questions for discussion:

  • If you were in this class, would you believe that you are going to learn a lot of interesting and useful material?
  • Why or why not?
  • Which elements of ethos is Homer failing? Competence, dynamism, trustworthiness, similarity, etc.
  • What specifically is he doing to fail them?
  • How could he improve his approach to the class?

Photo courtesy Simpsons Wiki

“They may forget what …

They may forget what you said, but they will never forget how you made them feel.

Carl W. Buechner, Novelist/Theologian