Monday, February 3, 2014

Giving Speeches: The Ethical Use of Source Materials

Cite your sources to prove you are an ethical person who cares enough about your topic to have studied it thoroughly!Are you currently working on a speech that includes source content?  Don't forget to give credit where credit is due!  

If you are asked to include source content in a speech, do not panic!

Citing your sources adds credibility to your speech content.  By using and citing your sources, you are proving to your listeners that you have their best interests at heart: You have researched your speech content.  Furthermore, citing your sources shows you are an ethical person who has used resources you are proud to cite.

What's a Source?  What's Source Content?  What's a Citation?

First and foremost, let's make sure you understand the lingo of source citation.

Source: A source is the article, the essay, the research report, the blog, the video, the map, or the other electronic or print material from which your borrowed information comes.  A source always has a writer, publisher or creator, and a source usually has a title and publication date.

Source Content: The source content is the information you have borrowed.  You might borrow information in the form of a quotation, summary or paraphrase.  Always remember that "content" doesn't just mean words: Content also means ideas.

Cite:  To cite a source is to let your audience know where your borrowed information originated.  When citing a source, you will give credit to the writer, publisher, or creator for having come up with the idea or words you have borrowed.  You will provide a date to prove your information is current.

Citation: A citation is the name we give the moment when you tell the audience where your information came from.  In a speech, that happens when you say something like, "According to Ms. Hess, I have to cite all of my sources," or "As stated in the 2012 text, Public Speaking: Finding Your Voice, written by Osborn, Osborn and Osborn, 'Citing your source on your presentation aid verifies the information presented and reminds you to mention the source in your oral presentation.'"

How Do I Cite Information on Visual Aids?

This bar chart has a citation in APA format on the bottom of the PowerPoint slide.When your speech includes visual aids, any source content included on the visual aid must also be cited.  For example, if you show your audience a PowerPoint slide that includes source content, the author, date, and source should appear on the slide. The example includes a citation in APA format at the bottom of the slide. 

 Be sure to ask if you are unsure about the format you are supposed to use for your citations.

While speaking, you should both incorporate your oral citation into your speech and show the complete written citation on your visual aid.    For example, our example speaker is both showing the bar chart with the citation at the bottom of the slide and mentioning the author of the chart in his speech.

This speaker is remembering to cite his source aloud while showing the slide and the APA citation to the audience.
 Even digital images count!  If you use an image photographed by someone else, that person should get credit for the photograph.

In conclusion, remember that citing your sources is more than just an assignment requirement in your speech class.  Citing your sources proves to your listeners that you care enough about your topic to have researched it, you are an ethical person who gives credit where credit is due, and you've used great sources you are proud to cite!


Osborn, M., Osborn, S., & Osborn, R. (2012). Public speaking: Finding your voice. Boston, MA: Allyn & Bacon.

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