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March 2010 - Supporting the Talk: Testimony

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John Kline, PhD, inspirational and motivational keynote and after-dinner speaker and corporate trainer.

March 2010

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.

With “expert testimony,” make sure the source is an expert. The person 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 subject.

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.

With paraphrased quotations, do these things. Tell the audience you are paraphrasing and do so without distorting the intent of the source.

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.

Next month we will talk about statistics.
John Kline
Montgomery, Alabama

December 2006 - Motivating Others: Communicate Clearly
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