Week 5 – Read the Course Resource Online

Workbook Activity 3: Read and then reflect on the key points of the Course Resource Online. 

The Heritage and Clayman (2010) reading we were assigned this week was full of useful tips and tricks to help increase the potential effectiveness of a political speech.

As I read through the chapter, a lot of the techniques were recognisable, but to have someone actually put them into words is extremely beneficial for professional communications students.

A number of the key points that Heritage and Clayman (2010) made will be extremely helpful to me when it comes to writing my Assessment 2 speech and justification.

One such key point was to ensure that a speech has recognisable ‘slots’ for applause that audience members can see up ahead, and subsequently prepare for (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 266).

There are several different formats that a speaker can employ to invite applause (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 267).

Once such format is the contrast, which in its most basic form involves giving a negative statement, then offsetting it with a positive one (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 267).

The most common forms of the contrast include contradictions, comparisons, opposites, and phrase reversals (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 268).

Another format speakers can use is lists. Lists tend to be in three parts and they combine emphasis with repetition and projectability, which enhances the predictability of the list’s third part (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 269).

Lists are most effective when the speaker pauses briefly before listing the final item, or “when the final item is longer than the other three” (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 270).

Again, there are several common forms of the list, including three identical words, three different words, three phrases, and three sentences (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 270).

There is also the puzzle-solution format, in which the speaker aims to “[arouse] the interest of the audience” by beginning a section of their speech with a problem or a puzzle (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 271).

The speaker then highlights the point of that section by using it as the answer to said puzzle, which serves to emphasise the point and to provide a ‘slot’ for the audience’s applause (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 271).

This kind of format also gives political speakers in particular the chance to inject humour into their speech (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, p. 271).

Speakers can also use combination formats, such as puzzles and contrasts, and contrasts and lists (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, pp. 271-272).

Other than using formats, speakers can also use a variety of delivery methods to help drive a point home and elicit applause (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, pp. 274). These include volume and inflection shifts, rhythmic patterns, and eye contact (Heritage & Clayman, 2010, pp. 274).

This reading (Heritage and Clayman, 2010) has helped give me a clearer idea of the key methods that political media advisers use to compose their speeches, and I believe it will make completing Assessment 2 much easier.


Heritage, J., & Clayman, S. (2010). Chapter 18: Interaction en masse: Audience and speeches in heritage. In J. Heritage and S. Clayman (Eds.), Talk in action: Interactions, identities, and institutions (pp. 263-287). Chichester, West Sussex: Wiley-Blackwell.


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