Northern Virginia Community College Cybersecurity Explanatory Speech

The purpose of your explanatory speech is teach your audience something about a topic that is related to your major or intended career. In this speech, you are not trying to change your audience’s attitudes, actions, or beliefs— you will do that in your group persuasive speech a little bit later this semester as part of the Deliberative Dialogue assignment. For this speech, you should teach your audience something that is a specialized concept, about a key historic figure, or an important historic development related to your major or intended career. For example, an agronomist might talk about how Norman Borlaugh developed hybrids of wheat and rice that would later keep entire nations from dying of starvation, a biologist might explain how unchecked cell growth leads to cancer, a communication student might teach about how the Theory of Reasoned Action explains how people make decisions, a musician might explain the difference between analog and digital music recordings, a pre-med student might teach the audience how to do CPR, and a computer scientist might explain how computer security algorithms work and teach the audience how to create more secure passwords. All of these speeches would describe, or teach, complexities of their respective topics without trying to convince the audience to accept a certain position on the topic.

When brainstorming ideas and selecting a topic for your explanatory speech, you should begin by asking yourself a series of questions about each topic that you consider:

  1. Is this topic about something related to my major or career?
  2. Is this an appropriate topic for an explanatory speech in a scholarly setting? In other words, is there a lot of published research on the topic that is credible and I can call on to build my description of the topic?
  3. Is this a topic in which I am interested? Is this topic important to me?
  4. Do I have expertise in this area or want to learn more about this subject?
  5. Will my audience be interested in this topic?
  6. How much does my audience already know about this topic? Will this teach them something new?
  7. Is learning about this topic beneficial to my audience in some way? Can I frame this topic so that I can relate it to all members of my audience?
  8. What three new things do I want my audience to walk away from my speech knowing?

After selecting a topic, you should develop a specific purpose and thesis statement for your explanatory speech. Decide which pattern of organization (chronological, spatial, topical, etc.) is best for presenting your main points, and incorporate support materials as you develop your speech outline. Review the textbook for more information on drafting explanatory purpose and thesis statements and important details about organizational patterns and support materials. Use the Explanatory Speech Plan and the Explanatory Speech Outline template in the following section to help plan and organize your speech. Make sure that you also incorporate at least one of the strategies to help audiences understand (repetition, show and tell, build on the known, humor, checking for understanding) and at least one of the three strategies for explaining difficult concepts (elucidating explanation, transformative explanation, quasi-scientific explanation). You will be evaluated on how effectively you incorporate your strategies and explain difficult concepts!

Research: For this speech, you will need to conduct additional research. You will consult a variety of sources, such as newspaper articles, magazines, peer-reviewed academic journals, books, and websites. You will need to include an APA formatted References page with your outline (note that this is a separate list of references from the Annotated Bibliography). During your speech, you should orally cite at least three different types of sources and use at least three different types of support materials. You may cite a source multiple times, but that will count as only one source. Label each of your types of sources and support materials in your final full-sentence preparation outline using the “Add Comment” feature. Please follow the template and example attached.


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