THE HIERARCHY OF ILLUSTRATIONS
by Wallace T. Scherer
It is a well know fact among those involved in
public speaking that a relevant illustration helps to give life
to the subject being presented, making it more understandable and
interesting. Some teachers of public speaking say that every
major point of the speech should be accompanied by a pertinent
Illustrations involving the speaker himself, or someone known by
the audience are generally more relevant than those about someone
the audience never heard of. Likewise, an illustration concerning
a current event is much more relevant than one concerning an
event that occurred many centuries ago.
The relevancy of an illustration, and hence the
possibility of it aiding the presentation, is greater when it
falls under the categories with the higher numbers from this table. Multiply the
factor which applies from the "person" column by the factor which
applies from the "time" column to get the relevancy score. Thus an
illustration with a score of 100 is more likely to be relevant
than one with a score of only 25.
TABLE OF RELEVANCY FOR ILLUSTRATIONS
||"I". The person who is speaking.
||It happened today.
||A well known person in the audience.
||It happened in the past week.
||A leader in the organization or local celebrity.
||It happened in the last few weeks or months.
||A statewide or national celebrity.
||It happened a few years ago.
||An expert in the field being discussed.
||It happened a few decades ago.
||A lesser known person.
||It happened one or two centuries ago.
||A practically unknown person.
||It happened many centuries ago.
||A ficticious person.
||A hypothetical or ficticious event.
Example: An illustration which deals with a person present in the
audience that everyone knows (factor 9) and that happened a few
years ago (factor 7), would have a score of 63. (9 x 7) If I make
up a hypothetical situation (factor 3) about myself (factor 10),
the score would be 30.
Note: A high score is important, but a variety of illustrations
is also important. For this reason, don't worry too much if all
your illustrations don't have a score above 50, but most of them
Even though an illustration with a score of 9 (3 x 3) is
generally better than no illustration at all, a little more study
and investigation should make it possible to find one with a
relevancy score of at least 25. A good speaker would be expected
to never use an illustration with a relevancy score less than 36.
Back to Main Page
Search Engine Optimization and Free Submission