Critical Listening Paper Essay
Critical Listening Paper
Social psychologist Amy Cuddy presents a formal demonstrative speech on body language. The general purpose of the speech was to inform. Cuddy’s attire was formal. She was dressed in black high heels, black stockings, a black skirt, a long thin black cover-up, and jewelry—a heavy necklace and hoop earrings. The speaker’s introduction definitely captured my attention. She started her speech by stating that she would offer a “free no-tech life hack” additional to a request that she made to the audience; this definitely draws the audience into what she is about to say. The speaker engages with her audience by asking them to perform a certain act, while also enticing them with a free life-hack. It sure did enhance the speaker’s credibility because she is offering some kind of valuable advice to her audience. The audience is generally older in age (late 20’s & up), there is a mix of males and females, and there seems to be a good diversity in races.
Most are dressed semi-formally if not formally. The speaker definitely adapts her remarks to the audience by catering to the characteristics of their demographics ex. Relating her topic to job interviews. The speaker establishes rapport with her audience through constant eye contact, communicative conversational tone, fluency, hand/arm gestures, and personal stories. Cuddy’s speech was about body language and how we see ourselves. The speaker’s thesis statement was the following: Fake it until you become it. The main points for this speech are the following: our non-verbals govern how we think and feel about ourselves (Power-posing), our bodies change our minds (Testosterone/cortisol levels), and our bodies change our behavior and our behavior changes our outcomes. The speaker uses the topical organizational pattern to deliver her speech. It is definitely appropriate for the topic and speaking situation.
Her organization makes it easier for the audience to logically interpret and understand the important points that she is trying to make. Additionally, the speaker uses language to improve the effectiveness of her speech. She is very conversational which exerts the audience to be more alert, responsive, and empathetic to her. The speaker’s speaking voice is not monotone and she definitely uses effective vocabulary in her speech as well—not too difficult, but not too plain. Additionally, the Cuddy uses the right amount of vocal expressions. Amy Cuddy mainly used images to support her material. Her short clip and images worked extremely well in supporting her main points/argument. Besides the effective images on her slideshow, the speaker’s use of her personal experiences and stories definitely supported her points. She establishes her credibility by telling a story that ultimately establishes her educational level; Cuddy is a professor at Harvard University.
Cuddy concludes her speech by reiterating her thesis statement and reinforcing the speech’s general and specific purpose. She ends her speech with a call to action. The conclusion that she makes calls the audience to 1.) try power-posing and 2.) to share the science. The speaker provides closure to show the audience that her speech was finished with her call to action and thanking the audience. The speaker’s use of non-verbal elements of delivery was outstanding. Her arm and hand gestures were appropriate, she maintained meaningful eye contact/engagement throughout her entire speech, and her overall body language to her audience was one that really entices the audience to pay attention and be engaged. The speaker used presentation aids, and in my opinion, they were extremely effective and engaging.
Moreover, it is clear to see that the speaker’s presentation aids were adequate supporting material through the audience’s reactions ex. Laughter, applause. In my opinion, the strongest part of the speech was the speaker’s story about her personal experience. This was part of the body of her speech and it was her supporting evidence for one of her main points. She used emotion to appeal to her audience about her tragic accident and her journey to recovery and “faking it until you become it”. This was the strongest part of the speech because it is memorable and got a strong reaction out of the audience. Not only that, but it was great supporting material for the speaker’s thesis. On the other hand, there weren’t any weaknesses to Cuddy’s speech necessarily.
If I had to choose one weak point however, it would be the transition from the body to the conclusion. This was the weakest part of the speech because it was difficult to concretely establish the concluding paragraph of the speech. I could not tell whether the ending was part of the speech’s body and the conclusion was just extremely short, or whether the conclusion of the speech was very long. A better transition into the conclusion would make the speech better. The setting of this speech was extremely formal. The size of the room was fairly large—it appeared like a theatre. Cuddy is atop a large stage and the spotlight is on her. The room is darker where the audience is. This kind of setting impacts the speech in a way that makes the speaker the center of attention. The audience gives supportive feedback to the speaker.
They laugh at all the right times, and the Cuddy responds to this feedback by really engaging with the audience through her questions and affirmations in a non-overdoing way. At the end of her speech, the members of the audience stand up from their seats while giving her a big applause. On a scale of 1-10, I would rate this speaker a 10. This is because this speaker encompassed every characteristic that an effective speaker should portray. She obviously knows what she is doing and has had sufficient practice and experience. I would definitely enjoy listening to Cuddy again because not only was her topic very interesting and enjoyable to listen to and learn about, but she was a great speaker in general.
I especially liked the way that she catered her speech to her audience. In my opinion, there weren’t issues that the speaker should have addressed but did not. The speech was succinct and effective. The conclusion of the speech, however, was either too long or too short. I could not tell whether the ending was part of the body and the conclusion was just extremely short, or whether the conclusion was just very long.
Cuddy, A. (2012, October). Your body language shapes who you are. Retrieved July 30, 2014, from TED: http://www.ted.com/playlists/171/the_20_most_popular_talks_of_a