Week 5 Workbook Activity – Chapter 18: Interaction en Masse: Auidences and Speeches

In John Heritage and Steven Clayman’s paper titled “Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities, and Institutions1” the main topic of discussion was the interaction between the speaker and his/ her audience2. In speech writing it is important for me to not only convey an intended message but to also give it meaning so that I can successfully connect with my audience3. In terms of connection, I mean, laughing, nodding, crying or applauding. In order to become more successful with this I have outlined, below, some techniques by Heritage and Clayman that I could imply to my writing to make it more effective.

  1. I need to ensure that I make continuous eye contact with the audience when public speaking. This will make evident the audiences other interactions such as smiling, nodding and perhaps writing things down.
  2. Must remember that public speaking is a two-party interaction in which the first party is the speaker and the audience forms the second.
  3. This is common cense, however, become familiar with the audiences response to a speech. For example, clapping and booing are signs of disapproval.
  4. In some cases it is good to delay the appearance or sound of information as it gives the audience additional time to anticipate the announcement and prepare t respond.
  5. It is important to note that everyone has to start applauding at the same time for a ‘burst’ to begin and to minimize social isolation. This can only be achieved by creating slots for applause where audience members have sufficient time to anticipate and prepare for.
  6. There are several formats that can be implemented within speech writing that aim to invite applause these include contrast. Contrast is a rhetorical device where a negative statement is balanced with a positive one. Contrasts require emphasis on the idea embodied in the second half (positive). Contrasts can include: contradictions, comparisons, opposites and phrase reversals.
  7. Lists can also be added to show emphasis and projectability to permit audiences to react. These are more effective in getting a response from the audience when there is a brief delay before the final item. These can include: three identical words, three different words, three phrases and three sentences.
  8. The third format that can be used is puzzle-solution which embodies emphasis. This is when the speaker interests the audience by establishing a puzzle/ problem and them providing a solution. Although less frequent then lists, this technique has a higher success rate.
  9. If I wanted to get tricky with my speech writing I can always combine these formats to enhance emphasis and projectability, however, it can be extremely complex.
  10. It is important to remember that errors in construction and execution can cause any one of the rhetorical formats to fail. Despite this, is possible to give audiences a second chance at applauding.
  11. It is important to note all the little important techniques needed in the micro management of the audiences expectations towards the moment when applause a due. These consist of delaying and extending the final components of the speech, volume and intonation shifts, rhythmic patterns and eye gazes.
  12. In terms of structure there are three main levels if a speaker wants to successfully structure audiences’ expectations towards a slot for applause. This includes an argument structure where positions are staked out. Secondly, particular points are made which are rhetorically structured to build expectation. Lastly, a micro- structural level of intonation, rhythm, timing and gesture in which guides the audience.
  13. It is important to note that content is necessary too applaudability.

When writing a speech, of course a speaker wants a burst of applause in response to what they are saying but remember the audience most likely wants to show their support, however, is at risk of clapping alone1. Therefore these above techniques will enhance applaudability by lowering the perceived risk associated with applauding.

1James Heritage and Steven Clayman, Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities and Institutions (West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell, 2010), 263-287.

Heritage, James, and Steven Clayman, 2010, Talk in Action: Interactions, Identities and Institutions, West Sussex:wiley-Blackwell.


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