Ethics in Public Speaking

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ETHICS IN PUBLIC SPEAKING Public speaking possesses a great power in influencing and persuading audiences. If it is used unethically, some negative impacts will be caused. So, it is crucial to learn about the ethics in public speaking to be a more responsible speaker. Ethics, according to MacKinnon (2004), “asks basic questions about the good life, about what is better and worse, about whether there is any objective right or wrong, and how we know it if there is”. To learn about ethics in public speaking, there are a few aspects to be considered. Discussing on ethical speaking, Grice and Skinner (2007) outline six guidelines to help in speechmaking process. The first guideline is ethical public speakers choose only topics or issues they consider important. Keeping silence for something they think with no importance is just alright. The second guideline by Grice and Skinner is ethical speakers choose topics that promote positive values. To illustrate, speakers should bear in their mind that the topic they are going to present should be based on the audience’s importance. Speaking on topics like “five smart ways to skip a lecture” might be interesting, but it is totally unethical and might bring certain bad consequences. Speaking to benefit the audience is the third guideline. Public speakers must consider the audience needs prior than their personal needs. As the illustration of Jones quoted by Grice and Skinner, a speaker who presents a bad speech to an audience of 200 people will only waste half an hour of his own time, but meanwhile he will waste a total of 100 hours of his audience’s time and this is clearly unethical. So public speakers should make sure that their speeches will somehow benefit their audience or be useful for them. The fourth guideline by Grice and Skinner (2007) is that ethical speakers use truthful supporting material and valid
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