Supporting the Talk: Testimony
The previous six columns discussed three kinds of clarifying support material:
definitions, examples and comparisons. Two other kinds of supporting
material—testimony and statistics—not only clarify points, but also add proof
support. Testimony may come from experts, or it may come from “ordinary people
just like us.” But in either case, here are some things to consider.
“expert testimony,” make sure the source is an expert.
should actually be an expert on the subject you are discussing and not
just be a well-known person, such as a stage personality, sports figure, popular
politician or respected person in the community who may not know much about the
The source must be trustworthy. Simply being an expert is not enough; experts
must be someone the audience trusts. Simply knowing about a subject does not
mean people will accept the source as a good one. When using either expert or
peer testimony, the source must be considered honest, believable and respected.
With a direct quotation, do these things. Quote it accurately, gave proper credit,
use only the part of the quotation necessary, don’t cut out words that would
change the intent of the source and signal where the quotation begins and ends.
paraphrased quotations, do these things.
audience you are paraphrasing and do so without distorting the intent of the
Here’s how to
determine whether to use the testimony. Testimony should only be
used if it is relevant, clear, interesting, aids understanding and supports the
point you wish to make.
month we will talk about statistics.