Putting It Together: Ethical Speech

As you’ve just seen, the subject of ethics in public speaking covers a lot of ground! That’s because ethics are rarely obvious or self-evident. Instead, they require a lot of thought and a system of principles against which to judge a person’s words, behaviors, and actions. Here are some of the key concepts we discussed:

  • Ethics are a set of standards that govern the conduct of a person. Ethical behavior should not be confused with moral or legal behavior.
  • Within any public speaking scenario, ethical speech is of paramount importance.
  • Unconscious or implicit bias can interfere with fair and ethical communication. Conflicts of interest are an important ethical consideration in public speaking.
  • One of the most important parts of ethical communication is to avoid inadvertently excluding parts of the audience. Using inclusive language is a good way to make sure all listeners feel included in our message.
  • Hate speech of any kind is never acceptable in public communications.
  • Although free speech is Constitutionally protected in the U.S., free speech should not be confused with speech without consequences.
  • An important aspect of ethical communication is to give proper credit for other people’s words, ideas, and other intellectual work.