Analogies draw comparisons between ideas or objects that share certain aspects or characteristics, but are dissimilar in other areas.
Define analogies and how they can be used as a linguistic tool in public speaking
- Analogies compare something new and different (the main topic of a speech) to people, places, objects, and ideas familiar to audience members.
- Public speakers often use analogies to strengthen political and philosophical arguments, even when the semantic similarity is weak or non-existent.
- Analogies that begin with phrases including “like”, “so on,” and “as if” rely on an analogical understanding by the receiver of a message that includes such phrases.
- Considering audience demographics, and constructing similar rather than extreme analogies, are tactics public speakers use to create effective analogies.
- homomorphism: A similar appearance of two unrelated organisms or structures.
- iconicity: The state of being iconic (in all meanings).
- isomorphism: A one-to-one correspondence.
Analogies draw comparisons between ideas or objects that share certain aspects or characteristics, but are dissimilar in other areas. This cognitive process transfers information or meaning from one particular subject (the analogue or source) to another particular subject (the target) to infer meaning or prove an argument. In public speaking, analogy can be a powerful linguistic tool to help speakers guide and influence the perception and emotions of the audience.
Analogies in Public Speaking
Linguistically, an analogy can be a spoken or textual comparison between two words (or sets of words) to highlight some form of semantic similarity between them. Thus, public speakers often use analogies to strengthen political and philosophical arguments, even when the semantic similarity is weak or non-existent (if crafted carefully for the audience).
Often presenters speak about topics, concepts, or places that may seem alien or abstract for audiences. To build trust and credibility on stage, speakers repeatedly link their main topic or argument to the values, beliefs, and knowledge of their audience. Demonstrating how the relationship between one set of ideas is comparable or similar to a different set ideas helps bridge this gap in understanding for listeners unable to formulate the relationship on their own. Likewise, analogies are sometimes used to persuade those that cannot detect the flawed or non-existent arguments within the speech.
The Construction and Role of Analogies in Language
Analogies that begin with phrases including “like,” “so on,” and “as if” rely on an analogical understanding by the receiver of a message that includes such phrases. Analogy is important not only in ordinary language and common sense (where proverbs and idioms give many examples of its application ), but also in science, philosophy, and the humanities. Presenters and writers also use analogies to enhance and enliven descriptions, and to express thoughts and ideas more clearly and precisely.
The concepts of association, comparison, correspondence, mathematical and morphological homology, homomorphism, iconicity, isomorphism, metaphor, resemblance, and similarity are closely related to analogy. In cognitive linguistics, the notion of conceptual metaphor may be equivalent to that of analogy.
Tips for Using Analogies
- Think about audience demographics. What are their interests, beliefs, and values? Choose a suitable analogy that the audience will be able to connect with and relate to.
- Keep analogies short and simple. Extreme analogies can weaken rather than strengthen an argument.
- Use analogies as a springboard rather than as the main focus of the presentation.
- Use analogies from personal experiences to create authenticity and credibility with the audience.
It is easier to support your ideas when you provide definitions ensuring that you and your audience are working with the same meaning.
State how defining key terms creates credibility for public speakers
- Providing the definition of the key terms also works as a signal to your audience that you know what you’re talking about.
- In order to define the key terms, you first have to bluntly state what they are.
- Very often, you’ll use the work of somebody else to help you define the key terms.
- concept: An understanding retained in the mind, from experience, reasoning and/or imagination; a generalization (generic, basic form), or abstraction (mental impression), of a particular set of instances or occurrences (specific, though different, recorded manifestations of the concept).
During the introduction to your speech or presentation, you’ve given your audience a promise. You’ve told them that in exchange for their attention, you are going to deliver some information that answers the question which spawned the presentation in the first place.
Now you are giving the main part of your speech, and your audience expects you to deliver as promised.
There’s just one problem. Even though you’ve already decided what to include in the answer, you realize that there are times when the listeners may lose focus because they aren’t following you.
One way to make sure that your answer is focused is to tell your audience what you are talking about. In other words, define your key terms. In doing this, you do two things: First, you show that you know what you are speaking about. Second, you avoid misunderstandings by settling on a single understanding of the key terms. It might be that your audience understands power in a Marxist way, and you want to approach the presentation from a feminist point of view. By providing a brief definition, there will be no misunderstanding. Your audience may not agree with you, but that is not necessary to get your point across.
A definition makes sure you and your audience are talking about the same things.
For example, you can define fruit salad as consisting of bananas, pineapples, and yellow apples (ideally you would have a reason for this, too). Having done so, your audience will not object when you later state that fruit salad lacks the vital bits of red. Your definition of a fruit salad has supported this idea.
In order to define the key terms, you first have to bluntly state what they are. Always include the key words included in the question. These have been identified as central concepts for you, and by excluding them, you’ll be very likely answering a different question from the one set.
There are often other key terms you want to include, and it’s usually worth spending some time thinking about which ones are the key concept. The number of definitions you include will depend on the length of your speech. Sometimes it takes a bit of time to think which terms are the central ones. This is time worth spending, because you can later use the concepts without giving any further qualifications or comments. For this reason, you should also define the terms carefully.
Having defined “power” in a particular way, every time you use the term in the presentation, it will have the meaning you desire.
Providing the definition of the key terms also works as a signal to your audience that you know what you’re talking about. By defining “power” in a certain way, you demonstrate that you’re aware of other interpretations. In fact, it will usually not be necessary to state what the other interpretations are, unless the distinction is a key aspect of the argument.
It is easy to support your ideas once you’ve created credibility.
Very often, you’ll use the work of somebody else to help you define the key terms. The following two paragraphs define the concepts “social disadvantage” and “siblings. ” The definitions are taken from a range of sources, and referenced accordingly. In the context of another speech or presentation, these definitions may be too long or too short.
Social disadvantage, to start with, refers to a range of difficulties a person can be exposed to. According to McLanahan and Sandefur, social disadvantages include a lower expectancy in educational attainment, lower prospects at work, or lower status in society. Steinberg demonstrated that social and economic disadvantages in society often come together, leading some sociologists talking about underclasses. Social disadvantage, however, does not necessarily have to be as extreme as that: it describes a relative difficulty in reaching a similar position in society than people not disadvantaged.
Siblings, finally, in the context of this presentation, refer to brothers and sisters of the same birth family. This means that siblings are biologically related, as well as living in the same family.
Visual aids are often used to help audiences of informative and persuasive speeches understand the topic being presented.
List the different ways visual aids add impact to a presentation
- Visual aids are often used to help audiences of informative and persuasive speeches understand the topic being presented.
- The use of objects as visual aids involves bringing the actual object to demonstrate on during the speech.
- Models are representations of another object that serve to demonstrate that object when use of the real object is ineffective for some reason (e.g., the solar system).
- Maps show geographic areas that are of interest to the speech. They often are used as aids when speaking of differences between geographical areas or showing the location of something.
- Drawings or diagrams can be used when photographs do not show exactly what the speaker wants to show or explain.
Visual aids are often used to help audiences of informative and persuasive speeches understand the topic being presented. Visual aids can play a large role in how the audience understands and takes in information that is presented. There are many different types of visual aids that range from handouts to PowerPoints. The type of visual aid a speaker uses depends on their preference and the information they are trying to present. Each type of visual aid has pros and cons that must be evaluated to ensure it will be beneficial to the overall presentation. Before incorporating visual aids into speeches, the speaker should understand that if used incorrectly, the visual will not be an aid, but a distraction.
Planning ahead is important when using visual aids. It is necessary to choose a visual aid that is appropriate for the material and audience. The purpose of the visual aid is to enhance the presentation.
The use of objects as visual aids involves bringing the actual object to demonstrate on during the speech. For example, a speech about tying knots would be more effective by bringing in a rope.
- Pro: the use of the actual object is often necessary when demonstrating how to do something so that the audience can fully understand procedure.
- Con: some objects are too large or unavailable for a speaker to bring with them.
Models are representations of another object that serve to demonstrate that object when use of the real object is ineffective for some reason. Examples include human skeletal systems, the solar system, or architecture.
- Pros: models can serve as substitutes that provide a better example of the real thing to the audience when the object being spoken about is of an awkward size or composure for use in the demonstration.
- Cons: sometimes a model may take away from the reality of what is being spoken about. For example, the vast size of the solar system cannot be seen from a model, and the actual composure of a human body cannot be seen from a dummy.
Graphs are used to visualize relationships between different quantities. Various types are used as visual aids, including bar graphs, line graphs, pie graphs, and scatter plots.
- Pros: graphs help the audience to visualize statistics so that they make a greater impact than just listing them verbally would.
- Cons: graphs can easily become cluttered during use in a speech by including too much detail, overwhelming the audience and making the graph ineffective.
Maps show geographic areas that are of interest to the speech. They often are used as aids when speaking of differences between geographical areas or showing the location of something.
- Pros: when maps are simple and clear, they can be used to effectively make points about certain areas. For example, a map showing the building site for a new hospital could show its close location to key neighborhoods, or a map could show the differences in distribution of AIDS victims in North American and African countries.
- Cons: inclusion of too much detail on a map can cause the audience to lose focus on the key point being made. Also, if the map is disproportional or unrealistic, it may prove ineffective for the point being made.
Tables are columns and rows that organize words, symbols, and/or data.
- Pros: Good tables are easy to understand. They are a good way to compare facts and to gain a better overall understanding of the topic being discussed. For example, a table is a good choice to use when comparing the amount of rainfall in 3 counties each month.
- Cons: Tables are not very interesting or pleasing to the eye. They can be overwhelming if too much information is in a small space or the information is not organized in a convenient way. A table is not a good choice to use if the person viewing it has to take a lot of time to be able to understand it. Tables can be visual distractions if it is hard to read because the font is too small or the writing is too close together. It can also be a visual distraction if the table is not drawn evenly.
- Pros: Photographs are good tools to make or emphasize a point or to explain a topic. For example, when explaining the shanty-towns in a third word country it would be beneficial to show a picture of one so the reader can have a better understanding of how those people live. A photograph is also good to use when the actual object cannot be viewed. For example, in a health class learning about cocaine, the teacher cannot bring in cocaine to show the class because that would be illegal, but the teacher could show a picture of cocaine to the class. Using local photos can also help emphasize how your topic is important in the audience’s area.
- Cons: If the photograph is too small it just becomes a distraction. Enlarging photographs can be expensive if not using a power point or other viewing device.
Drawings or diagrams
- Pros: Drawings or diagrams can be used when photographs do not show exactly what the speaker wants to show or explain. It could also be used when a photograph is too detailed. For example, a drawing or diagram of the circulatory system throughout the body is a lot more effective than a picture of a cadaver showing the circulatory system.
- Cons: If not drawn correctly a drawing can look sloppy and be ineffective. This type of drawing will appear unprofessional.