A great speech touches hearts and minds – and lights up the whole brain.  

I love to talk about stories and their power to captivate and engage your audience. That’s because they really are powerful. And yet, if we want to activate our audience, motivate them to take positive action, we will likely need what I call the “magic mix of content.” You may remember this from speech class in college: logos (logic), pathos (emotion), and ethos (credibility).

Stories largely meet the emotion element (compelling images do this, too). Depending on their content, stories might also meet some of the credibility element as well.  For example, the story may reflect your deep experience in the field. But nothing meets the logic element like some awesome, highly relevant academic research.

Credible research or data is the perfect complement to captivating stories, experiences and/or examples – and is often essential to real influence and especially moving your audience to action.

What makes research credible is a whole post in itself – one I’ve got on my list to write. For now, I’ll just say that credible research is research conducted and/or gathered by experts in their field who abide by specific academic research guidelines. This kind of research is usually originally published in peer-reviewed academic journals (like the ones found in the tutorial video above) and often turned into secondary articles in respected industry magazines. The credibility of these magazines depend on the industry but some well-known examples are Time Magazine, The Atlantic and National Geographic. (We could go down a rabbit hole about bias in particular magazines, but we won’t for now.)

The video above walks you through how I get awesome academic research through my local library. Your library may or may not have this option, but be sure to ask! It’s very new in our system so it may be available in yours, too, and you just don’t know it yet. Whether it has this kind of academic database option or not, it very likely has excellent ways to gather credible research that you can use in your speech.

Other great places to find credible research:

  • Your Local Library – look under “research” either as a search term or as a tab on the library website. You can also call or stop by and talk with the librarian onsite. They are amazing resources for all kinds of research!
  • Your School libraries, especially colleges and universities – many colleges welcome community members to use their library, including online research, onsite.
  • Google Scholar – a great place to search on google for scholarly literature. It still needs to be assessed for credibility, but it’s much more focused than the greater world wide web.
  • Respected publications in your industry – for example, a great place for environmental and toxins research is ewg.org. And you can find excellent research on non-profit leadership at Boardsource.org. Search for “research articles on [your topic area]” in google to see what comes up.
  • TED.com – a great database of respected thought leadership speeches
  • Last but not least, I just found this very cool resource for great online research websites and tools. Check it out for sure!

Would you like a worksheet to help you with your research? Use it to put together key words and research questions that will guide your research. Get access to the Credible Research Worksheet here