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should I give to defining my topic, demonstrating it, describing it, or explaining its meaning?”DefinitionSome informative topics clearly require more definition than others. When you defineinformation, you identify the essential qualities and meaning of some-thing. Consider, for example, these speech topics: What is cholesterol? What is a fractal? What is the Americans with Disabilities Act? When your topic is new to the audience or is a complex concept (“What is a fractal?”),pay particular attention to providing clear definitions. Definition can also be necessary when clarifying a controversial idea or issue. For example, TABLE 23.1 Types of Informative Speeches and Sample TopicsSubject MatterSample TopicsObjects or phenomenaDefine and describe object or phenomenonDemonstrate properties and functions•MRI-based lie detectors•e-book readers•Liquid-filled eyeglasses•El Niño wind patterns in the western United StatesPeopleVividly describe person’s compelling characteristics and explain person’s significanceOffer stories about overcoming obstacles and lessons to be drawn from person’s actions•Athletes•Authors•Inventors•Political leaders•Soldiers•War or hurricane refugeesCurrent or historical eventsUse description to paint a vivid pictureUse reporting and analysisTell the backstory•The Affordable Care Act •National College Cheerleading Finals•Battle of Britain•Violence along U.S./Mexico borderSpeeches about processesIf physically showing a process, rely on demonstrationUse presentation aids•Isolation of DNA in cells•Visualization in sports•Production of algae-based biofuels•Power Yoga routineSpeeches about issuesFocus on explanationAvoid advocating for one position versus another•Impact of long-term unemployment•Managing your reputation on social networking sites•Legalizing and taxing nonmedical marijuanaSpeeches about conceptsOffer multiple definitionsUse analogiesDiscuss underlying processes/causes•Chaos theory•Free speech•Responsible knowledge•Nanotechnology
CHAPTER 23The Informative Speech328many of us are aware that affirmative action is a strategy to provide special opportunities for underrepresented groups, but how many people know about the Fisher decision that ruled it unlawful for colleges to use affirmative action as an admissions criteria?Defining information may sound straightforward, but there are in fact a number of ways to define something, including the following:• Defining the topic by explaining what it does (operational definition); for example, A computer is something that processes information.• Defining the topic by describing what it is not (definition by negation); for example, Courage is not the absence of fear.