Accents and Credibility

Here is an interesting article that provides some evidence suggesting that messages spoken with an accent are perceived as less credible than messages spoken without an accent. I'm wondering, however, if there are occasions when accents increase the perception of credibility. I'm thinking of a French accented message about food or a German accented message about automotive engineering. All in all an interesting area to explore.


Public Speaking Checklist

Here is a public speaking checklist that I prepared for the new edition of my Essential Elements of Public Speaking but I think it should be useful to just about any student preparing a speech--regardless of the textbook used. For those using the 3rd edition of EEPS, you'll note that the steps have been reorganized a bit--I think it makes better sense this way. The 4th edition follows the steps as noted here. I'd be very interested in hearing in you find this a useful aid.
Public Speaking Checklist
Step 1. Select your topic, general and specific purposes, and your thesis.
o Is the topic substantive, appropriate, and culturally sensitive?
o Is the topic limited so that you cover a small topic in some depth?
o Is your purpose worded as an infinitive, focused on the audience, limited to one idea, limited to what you can reasonably accomplish, and phrased with precise terms?
o Is the thesis limited to one central idea, stated as a complete declarative sentence, useful for generating main points and suggesting organizational patterns, and focuses audience's attention?
Step 2. Analyze your audience: Seek to discover what is unique about your listeners and how you might adapt your speech to them.
o Have you taken into consideration the age, gender, affectional orientation, educational levels, religion, and culture of the audience and have you adapted your speech in light of these characteristics?
o Have you taken into consideration additional audience and context characteristics?
o Have you taken into consideration the audience's willingness, favorableness, and knowledge of your subject and adapted to these factors?
Step 3. Research your topic so that you know as much as you possibly can.
o Is your speech adequately researched (is the research current, reliable, and appropriate to the topic)?
o Have you incorporated research citations into your speech?
Step 4. Collect your supporting materials.
o Are the supporting materials varied, interesting, and relevant to the topic?
o Are your presentation aids clear, well organized, and tested?
Step 5. Develop your main points.
o Do the main points support your thesis?
o Are the main points few in number, focused on your audience, and worded as separate and discrete?
Step 6. Organize your main points into an easily comprehended pattern.
o Is your speech organized into a logical pattern?
o Will the audience be able to understand the organizational pattern you use?
Step 7. Construct your introduction, conclusion, and transitions.
o Does the introduction gain attention, establish a speaker–audience–topic connection, and orient the audience?
o Does the conclusion summarize, motivate, and close?
o Do the transitions hold the parts together and make going from one part to another clear to your audience.
Step 8. Word your speech, focusing on being as clear as possible.
o Is the language clear, vivid, appropriate, and personal?
o Are the sentences powerful, short, direct, active, positive, and varied in type?
Step 9. Rehearse your speech until you feel confident and comfortable with the material and with your audience interaction.
o Have you rehearsed the speech from beginning to end sufficiently?
o Have you rehearsed the speech a sufficient number of times?
Step 10. Present your speech to your intended audience.
o Does your voice use appropriate volume, rate, pitch, pausing, articulation and pronunciation?
o Do your general appearance, eye contact, facial expressions, posture, dress, gestures, and movements contribute to your speech purpose?



One measure of an ailing society has to be the large gap between the salaries of normal people working in education, science, and government and television performers. For example, the median elementary school teacher salary is $50,590. A licensed practical nurse earns $39,772; a dentist, $136,303; a biostatistician, $143,392; a level 1 engineer, $54,948, a clinical psychologist, $63,000, and a firefighter in New York City, $37,426 to $81,313. These figures come from a variety of websites--for example, salary.com, payscale.com, careeroverview.com, about.com--which, admittedly, are somewhat dated. Even if we increase these salaries substantially to take inflation into consideration, the comparison wouldn't suffer. Added to this comparison should be the approximately 10 percent unemployment rate and the hundreds of thousands of people who are homeless.
Compare these salaries with that of Charlie Sheen (of Two and a Half Men) who earns $1,250,000 per episode--in a 23 episode season that comes to $28,750,000. The four Desperate Housewives each earn $400,000 per episode for a season salary of $9,200,000. David Caruso and Marge Helgenberger (of CSI) each earn $350,000 per episode for a neat annual salary of $8,625,000. Ryan Seacrest earns $15 million, Judge Judith Sheindlin, $45,000,000, and Oprah Winfrey, $315,000,000. All figures come from TV Guide, August 16-29, 2010.
So, what's wrong with this picture? These extreme salaries of our television stars--and the same kind of comparisons can be drawn with athletes--push up the cost of television production. This cost pushes up the cost for advertising. The high cost of advertising pushes up the price of the products the teacher, nurse, dentist, and all the others purchase. So, it is the people making well under $200,000 who are paying the bulk of these salaries. [Of course, people making over $200,000 also pay for these salaries; it's just that there are fewer in this group than in the under $200,000 group.]
But, more important than this, these salaries--and, unfortunately, these discrepancies--define our society's values. These salaries tell our children and our students what really counts and what counts not so much.
Why do we allow this to exist?


Interpersonal Communication throughout the World

Here again, in the second edition of an interpersonal communication text--the name of which I won't mention since my own books compete with this one--is the claim that the "formal study of interpersonal communication occurs almost exclusively in the United States." And then goes on to ask, "Why isn't interpersonal communication studied and taught in other cultures?"
This is simply not true. My evidence for this is the number of translations of my own interpersonal books (and hybrid books which are perhaps one-third devoted to interpersonal) There have been four Chinese editions (of which I'm aware; there may be others), for example, as well as translations into Indonesian, Greek, Czech, and French--and adaptations for Canadian and New Zealand audiences. Further, my interpersonal and hybrid books sell widely in Japan and, in fact, throughout Asia, Europe, and Australia. And my guess is that other textbook authors such as Adler, Beebe, the Gambles, Pearson and Nelson, the Verderbers, and Wood, for example--would have similar stories to tell that would refute this claim that interpersonal communication is only studied in the United States.
Further, consider the very existence of the Pacific and Asian Communication Association and its journal (Human Communication) which, in its call for paper, specifically mentions interpersonal communication. And the Communication Association of Japan has interpersonal communication as one of its major divisions. I could go on but I think the point is made: (as I mentioned in my first post on this bogus claim) the study of interpersonal communication is alive and well throughout the world and is certainly not limited to the United States.