For those of you who are yet to speak, here are a few hints guaranteed to make your speech a success:
1. Present an idea in your thesis. Remember, an idea relates two values to help listeners clarify or prioritize their values. Some examples of thesis statements in this morning's speeches that presented ideas were—
"Steroids (drugs) are ruining baseball (sports)."
"Criticism is necessary to growth."
"Enough sleep makes us healthy, wealthy, and wise."
"Honest marriages (relationships) last longer."
"Making right decisions results in greater happiness."
"Ambition is the best gift we can give our kids."
"It is better to be wise than to be smart."
2. Tighten your thesis. Simple sentences are more powerful and memorable. Since criticism is necessary to growth, let me show you how a few of this morning's thesis sentences could be strengthened—
"An honest, healthy marriage will last longer in years than will a plain and lackadaisical marriage," could be tightened to, "Honest marriages last longer."
"Through overcoming our trials and challenges in life, we can learn and become better people," could be tightened to, "Overcoming trials makes us stronger."
"It is important for us to make the right decisions in our lives so that we can have happiness and joy," could be tightened to, "Right decisions result in greater happiness."
"All our dreams can come true, if we have the courage to pursue them (quote)," could be tightened to, "Dreams can come true."
3. Give ample outside support. Though this assignment allows you to use personal stories and examples as one kind of support, be sure to give plenty of outside support. Outside means support from others, not your personal thoughts, experiences, or opinions.
Remember that every claim you make about your topic must be supported. If you say, "Families are important," that is just your opinion. However, if you say, "A 2005 survey from CDC.com reports that 88% of Americans think families are more important than friends," that is no longer just your opinion. It is now a supported claim. Listeners who do not agree must argue with 88% of Americans, not just your personal opinion. This kind of support gives your claims greater credibility.
4. Cite your sources. When you give us that great support you have found for your idea, tell us where you got it. Also tell us who said it and when it was said. The formula for support is who-where-when.
Again, congratulations to everyone who spoke. If you haven't spoken yet, use these hints to strengthen your speech. Have fun.