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Chapter 20. Informational Speeches > Listen Up: Describe an Object, Person, or ... - Pg. 168

Informational Speeches 168 Did I make my criticism helpful, saying things like, "Please proofread your typing," rather than, "You're a poor ad- ministrative assistant"? Did I listen closely to the person's defense? Did I understand the other person's point of view? Did I include praise by telling the person what parts of the job he or she does well? Class Act When testifying, tell the complete truth. Do not withhold facts that should be part of your response. (Recall that you promised to tell the "whole truth.") Can you take it as well as you dish it out? Constructive criticism can come from a superior, colleague, or subordinate. When you accept criticism, listen carefully. Be sure you understand what specific criticisms the person is making. Then think about whether the criticism is valid. Don't rush to defend yourself. Instead, ask for specific suggestions for improvement, and jot down these ideas. Then, correct your performance according to the other person's suggestions. Evaluate your pro- gress by politely running your work by that person again. (Keep in mind that wording such as, "Is this closer to what you had in mind?" is better than "Is this good enough for you now?") Speech of the Devil Remember: More trouble is caused in the world by indiscreet answers than by indiscreet questions. Listen Up: Describe an Object, Person, or Place The key to describing a person, place, or thing is organization. With these speeches, it's a good idea to select and arrange your points systematically, taking care to make your organization of ideas clear. The audience must be able to follow your description without any problems. The most common method of organizing these descriptive speeches is space sequence, using location or position as the basis for arrangement. For instance, you might arrange your details from top to bottom, bottom to top, inside to out, and so on. An outfit might be described from top to bottom, a building from bottom to top, and a home inside to out, for example. Define a Concept One of the most common informative speaking tasks falls under defining a concept. Why? Because it is often necessary to define an obscure term or establish a special meaning you wish to attach to a particular word or phrase before you can explain anything further. If you neglect to define key concepts, you'll fail to communicate your meaning adequately, no matter what else you may say down the line. Five main ways exist for clarifying a concept. Let's look at each one: