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0896 Preparing a Speech

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Welcome to English as a Second Language Podcast number 896: Preparing a Speech.

This is English as a Second Language Podcast episode 896. I'm your host, Dr. Jeff McQuillan, coming to you from the Center for Educational Development in beautiful Los Angeles, California.

Go to our website at ESLPod.com and support this podcast by becoming a member. When you do, you'll be able to download the Learning Guide for each episode.

Our dialogue today is between Lourdes and Valerie, about giving a speech – talking to a large group of people. Let’s get started.

[start of dialog]

Lourdes: I need help.

Valery: Sure, what’s up?

Lourdes: I’m supposed to give a speech at the start of the conference next month and I don’t know what to do.

Valery: It’s not that hard to plan out a speech. You start with an attention getter using humor or telling a personal story.

Lourdes: Okay, I guess I can do that.

Valery: After that, in your introduction, you should tell the audience what your speech is about in a thesis statement. Along the way, you should establish your credibility by mentioning why you’re qualified to talk about this topic.

Lourdes: All right.

Valery: Then, in the body of your speech, you want to state your main points, using supporting ideas, giving examples, and maybe using visuals.

Lourdes: Okay.

Valery: And finally, in the conclusion, you restate your main points and make some closing remarks. Simple, right?

Lourdes: Yeah, simple. One last question.

Valery: Shoot.

Lourdes: What are you doing the morning of June 20th, and how do you feel about standing in for a coworker who plans to be deathly ill?

[end of dialog]

Lourdes begins by saying to Valerie, “I need help.” Valerie says, “Sure, what's up?” What’s going on? What's happening? Lourdes says, “I'm supposed to give a speech at the start of the conference next month, and I don't know what to do.” A “speech” is a formal presentation, a spoken presentation in front of a group of people. Valerie says, “It's not that hard to plan out a speech.” “To plan out” is a two-word phrasal verb meaning to plan all of the details of something, to prepare for it completely, to have a very good idea about everything you're going to do. Valerie says, “It's not hard” – it's not difficult – “to plan out a speech.” “You start with an attention getter using humor or telling a personal story.” “To get someone's attention” means to get them to listen to you, to get them to listen to the things you are saying. An “attention getter” would be something at the beginning of your speech that will make everyone stop and listen to you. Sometimes you can tell a story, sometimes you can use humor. “Humor” (humor) just means a joke, something funny, something that will make people laugh.

Lourdes says, “Okay. I guess I can do that.” She's not too sure. Valerie says, “After that” – after the attention getter – “in your introduction, you should tell the audience what your speech is about in a thesis statement.” Your “introduction” is the opening of your speech, the first part of your speech. There's an old rule that when you give a speech, when you give a formal talk, first, you tell people what you're going to tell them. Say, “I’m going to talk about this and this and this.” Then you tell them those things in the same order – this and this and this – and then at the end, you tell them what you just told them, you summarize.

That's what Valerie is suggesting here. Lourdes should tell the audience – the people listening to her – what the speech is going to be about in a “thesis statement.” A “thesis (thesis) statement” is usually associated with formal writing, an essay. Valerie is using this idea to help Lourdes understand what she's supposed to do. Your thesis statement in an essay, in a written essay, is a short statement, usually one sentence, that gives the main idea of what you are going to talk about.

Valerie says, “Along the way, you should establish your credibility by mentioning why you are qualified to talk about this topic.” “Along the way” is an expression we use to mean “as you are doing something.” This expression is often used when we are talking about traveling. “I'm going to drive from Los Angeles to San Francisco, and along the way I'm going to stop at Fresno to visit my friend.” “Along the way” – as I am traveling from one place to another.

Valerie, when using this expression, is telling Lourdes that as she is giving her speech, she needs to establish her credibility. “To establish your credibility” (credibility) means to demonstrate that you are knowledgeable, that you are qualified, that you know something about this topic that gives you the authority, gives you the right, if you will, to talk about it. You know what you're talking about. If you're going to talk about the weather, you would want to know your audience will want to know why you are qualified to talk about the weather. Do you have a degree in the science of studying the weather, what’s called “meteorology”? That would help.

Valerie says that Lourdes should establish her credibility by mentioning why she's qualified to talk about this topic. “To be qualified” means to have the knowledge or experience to do something. Lourdes says, “Alright,” meaning okay.

Valerie says, “Then in the body of your speech, you want to state your main points using supporting ideas, giving examples, and maybe using visuals.” The “body (body)” of your speech is the main section, the main part, where you tell people with details, the things that you told them you were going to tell them about in your introduction. We call these your “main points.” Your main points are your most important points, the most important messages that you want to give to your audience about your topic.

Valerie suggests using supporting ideas when talking about your main points. “Supporting” means helping. “Supporting ideas” would be ideas that help people understand what your main point is. It could be evidence. It could be proof of what you are saying. You could also give them examples of what you are talking about to help them understand. “Maybe,” Valerie says, “you could use visuals.” “Visual” (visual) is something you can see. Visuals are things that you use, often in a presentation or a speech, that shows people what it is you are trying to tell them about. It gives them something to look at. If you're talking about geography, about where things are, a visual would be a map that would show people what you're talking about.

Lourdes says, “Okay.” Valerie then says, “And finally, in the conclusion, you restate your main points and make some closing remarks.” Your “conclusion” is at the end of your speech. “At the end of your speech,” Valerie says, “you should restate your main points.” “To restate” (restate) means to say again. The prefix “re-“ in English, is typically used to mean “again,” to do something again. A “replay” is to play something one more time. Valerie says, “You should restate,” or say again, “your main points and make some closing remarks.” “Closing remarks” are things you say at the very end of your presentation – the “close” of your presentation.

Valerie says, “Simple, right?” Lourdes says, “Yeah, simple. One last question.” Valerie says, “Shoot.” “Shoot” (shoot) is a phrase we use informally to tell the other person to continue asking the question. Usually, it's in response to another person who has said that he wants to ask you a question. You may have someone come up to you and say, “Can I ask you a favor?” Can I ask you to do something for me? And you say, “Shoot.” You mean, “Okay, ask me your favor. Tell me what you want me to do.” Lourdes wants to ask Valerie a question, so Valerie says, “Shoot.” “Go ahead.”

Lourdes says, “What are you doing the morning of June 20th, and how do you feel about standing in for a coworker who plans to be deathly ill?” Lourdes is asking Valerie what he's going to do on a certain day – June 20th – and how he feels about, what is his opinion, about “standing in for a coworker.” “To stand in for someone” is to take the place of another person when that person isn't available, to do what they're supposed to do, especially in a work environment. Lourdes is joking, of course. She's asking Valerie if he would like to give this speech, if he would like to “stand in” for his coworker. His coworker is the person he works with, in this case, Lourdes.

Lourdes plans to be “deathly ill” that day. “To be ill” means to be sick. “To be deathly ill” means to be so sick, you could die. Once again Lourdes is making a joke here. She's hoping that Valerie will agree to do this speech since he seems to know everything about giving speeches.

Being a teacher and former professor, I've given lots of speeches. I like giving speeches. I don't think I’m very good at giving speeches, but I like to give speeches. So, if your organization wants me to give a speech, send me an email. I might not know what I'm talking about, but I'm happy to give a speech!

Now let’s listen to the dialogue, this time at a normal speed

[start of dialog]

Lourdes: I need help.

Valery: Sure, what’s up?

Lourdes: I’m supposed to give a speech at the start of the conference next month and I don’t know what to do.

Valery: It’s not that hard to plan out a speech. You start with an attention getter using humor or telling a personal story.

Lourdes: Okay, I guess I can do that.

Valery: After that, in your introduction, you should tell the audience what your speech is about in a thesis statement. Along the way, you should establish your credibility by mentioning why you’re qualified to talk about this topic.

Lourdes: All right.

Valery: Then, in the body of your speech, you want to state your main points, using supporting ideas, giving examples, and maybe using visuals.

Lourdes: Okay.

Valery: And finally, in the conclusion, you restate your main points and make some closing remarks. Simple, right?

Lourdes: Yeah, simple. One last question.

Valery: Shoot.

Lourdes: What are you doing the morning of June 20th, and how do you feel about standing in for a coworker who plans to be deathly ill?

[end of dialog]

Our scriptwriter has established her credibility over the years as being very qualified for this job. I speak of course, of our own Dr. Lucy Tse. Thank you, Lucy.

From Los Angeles, California, I'm Jeff McQuillan. Thank you for listening. Come back and listen to us again right here on ESL Podcast.

English as a Second Language Podcast is written and produced by Dr. Lucy Tse, hosted by Dr. Jeff McQuillan. Copyright 2013 by the Center for Educational Development.

Glossary
speech – a spoken presentation; a period of time when one person speaks to share information with an audience

* The groom’s best friend usually makes a speech at the wedding reception.

to plan out – to plan all the details of something and fully prepare for it; to develop a detailed idea for how something will be

* The military officers are planning out the next battle.

attention getter – something that is humorous, interesting, shocking, or unexpected, and makes people focus on the speaker and not pay attention to other things

* The man said, “I’ll pay you $200 if you can answer my next question correctly.” That was a great attention getter!

humor – the use of stories or actions that are funny and make other people laugh or at least smile

* Patients who have a good sense of humor often have a faster recovery than patients who take everything too seriously.

introduction – the beginning part of a report or presentation, designed to get the audience’s attention and let the audience know what to expect in the next part of the speech

* If the introduction is boring, nobody will want to hear the rest of your speech.

thesis statement – a short statement (usually one sentence) that summarizes the main idea of a report, article, or presentation

* Everything in the report should support your thesis statement.

along the way – as one does something else; as one travels from one place to another

* We’ll arrive in Yosemite in about an hour, but along the way, you can enjoy views of tall trees, impressive mountains, and waterfalls.

to establish (one’s) credibility – to demonstrate that one is knowledgeable and qualified to speak about a particular topic so that the audience will listen to and believe what one is saying

* You won’t be able to persuade anyone of anything until you have established your credibility as an expert on the subject.

body – the main substance of a report or presentation; the section that contains details and examples, not including the introduction or conclusion

* Shane’s presentation had a strong introduction, but the body was disorganized and difficult to understand.

main point – the main idea; the most important part of what one is saying, not an example or detail

* Julia’s main point was that we need a different system of retirement savings.

supporting – contributing to what one has already said, usually by providing an example or a statement from an expert

* If you make a statement like “sales are falling,” make sure you have some supporting data, too.

visual – visual aid; an object or graphic that illustrates what one is saying or describing and allows the audience to understand it more easily

* That graph was a great visual. It really helped everyone understand how use of our services has changed over time.

conclusion – the final, ending part of a presentation or report where the main idea is restated clearly

* The board has agreed to hear everyone’s ideas before reaching a conclusion.

to restate – to reiterate; to say something again

* In closing, let me restate our main goals for the new year.

closing remarks – a few statements or paragraphs at the end of a presentation

* Don’t forget to thank your team members in your closing remarks.

shoot – a phrase used to ask someone to continue, often used in response when another person has said that he or she wants to ask a question or make a request

* A: Can I ask you for a favor?
B: Shoot.

to stand in for – to take the place of another person when he or she is not available; to fill someone else’s role or responsibility

* Could you please stand in for me during the meeting on Tuesday?

deathly ill – very sick and in danger of dying

* Jun was deathly ill last year, but then he made a miraculous recovery.

Comprehension Questions
1. Where would you expect to hear supporting ideas in a speech?
a) In the introduction.
b) In the body.
c) In the conclusion.

2. What does Lourdes want Valery to do?
a) She wants him to give the speech for her.
b) She wants him to make her sick.
c) She wants him to know the speech in case she gets sick.

Answers at bottom.

What Else Does It Mean?
to plan out

The phrase “to plan out,” in this podcast, means to plan all the details of something and fully prepare for it, or to develop a detailed idea for how something will be: “They’re planning out emergency escape routes in case of a fire.” The phrase “to plan ahead” means to be prepared by making plans before they are needed, not waiting until the last minute: “People need to plan ahead for retirement and start saving when they are young.” The phrase “to stick to the plan” means to do what one has planned, without changing things if the situation changes: “Whatever happens, just stick to the plan!” Finally, “Plan B” describes a second option, or the plan for what one will do if one’s first plan fails: “Well, that was a disaster, so what’s our Plan B?”

to stand in for

In this podcast, the phrase “to stand in for” means to take the place of another person when he or she is not available, or to take someone else’s role or responsibility: “Who stood in for you at work last week when you were sick?” The phrase “to stand for (something)” means to have a strong belief and publicly support a cause or movement: “Do any of the candidates truly stand for justice for children?” The phrase “from where I stand” means that one is presenting one’s opinion, perspective, or viewpoint: “From where I stand, this seems like a really bad idea.” Finally, the phrase “to know where (one) stands” means to understand one’s position and/or how one is perceived by another person: “I’d like to know where I stand in the promotion process.”

Culture Note
Types of Speeches

People are expected to make many different kinds of speeches, both “professionally” (at work) and “personally” (in daily life). One of the most common types of speeches, especially at work, is an “informative” speech, which is designed to share information. Informative speeches are often used to report on a project or study. “Academics” (people who work in universities) make informative speeches at conferences when they present the results of their research.

Other speeches are “persuasive” and are intended to convince other people to do certain things, “adopt certain beliefs” (take certain beliefs as their own), or perform certain actions. Politicians often make persuasive speeches to try to get their “constituents” (the people who are represented by a politician) to support them in some effort, or to try to get their colleagues to “enact” (make into law) a particular law.

“Entertaining” speeches are designed to “entertain” (interest and amuse) the listeners. Entertaining speeches are made for the audience’s enjoyment. An “after-dinner speech” (a speech made at a formal event after everyone has eaten) might be an entertaining speech that helps people relax after a long conference.

Some speeches are expected on “special occasions” (holidays or other days filled with special meaning). For example, before a wedding, close friends and family members of the “bride and groom” (the woman and man getting married) are expected to speak at the “rehearsal dinner” (a meal for everyone who will play an official role in the wedding). The “best man” (the groom’s best friend) and the father of the bride typically give a speech during the “wedding reception” (a party held after the wedding ceremony). And at a funeral, people may be asked to give a “eulogy” (a speech that remembers and praises someone who has died).

Comprehension Answers
1 - b

2 - a