The Problem With Allowing Fake News Into Your Speech

Fake news can make your whole speech fake
Fake news can make your whole speech fakeImage Credit: Scott

The reason that an audience will come to listen to what you have to say in your next speech is that they understand the importance of public speaking and they hope to learn something new. The thinking is that you have had an experience, done some research, or experienced something that changed you in a way that you will now be able to share with your audience. It is through your words that your audience hopes to experience what you have experienced and by doing so change their lives. However, when you are pulling your speech together you will probably do some research. You’ll find facts and include them in your speech in order to lend more weight to what you’ll be telling your audience. What if the information that you add to your speech is fake news? What does this mean for your speech and your message?

The Problem With Fake News

The newspapers and television have been full of stores about fake news as of late. A speaker could be pardoned for thinking that this is a new concept that has just shown up. The reality is that fake news has been with us for a long time. Going all the way back to any war that you care to remember, the distribution of propaganda and incorrect information have always been a key part of the strategies of both sides. In the U.S., back in the 1700’s American politicians went to great lengths to spread rumors about each other when an election was getting ready to be held. The only thing that has changed these days is the speed with which fake news can be distributed.

The arrival of the internet has made it very easy to both create and distribute fake news. If the fake news is placed in the right place, then it will catch the eye of many different readers and has the ability to spread like wildfire. Key tools that the people who create fake news use to get their stories out include Facebook, Google, and Twitter. Facebook has realized that it is being used to spread fake news and so it is working harder to identify accounts that are being used to spread inaccurate or manipulated information. Google is in a bit of a tougher situation. Its automated search engine simply finds all of the information that is available and in the past has not tried to determine what information was legit and what was fake. This is changing as Google modifies its algorithms in order to give less credence to material that comes from less credible sources.

As speakers the availability of all of this fake news makes the job of creating a good speech that much harder. Sure, we can go out and do a simple search of the internet for material that will support our points, but what if that material is fake news? What will our audience think about us and our message then? What we need to do is to make sure that we are collecting our facts from sources that are considered to be reliable. What we are going to have to do is to educate ourselves on just exactly what makes something true.

How To Avoid Including Fake News

As speakers we are going to have to realize that we’ll always be living in a world that contains fake news. What this means for us is that we are going to have to sharpen our fact gathering skills and make sure that the information that we collect and add to our speech is accurate. As an example of doing this, we need to take care when we are reading an article and take the time to look into the organization that has put it out. Looking into who the author is also couldn’t hurt. Are there other articles where we found this one that talk about the same topic? If the article does not reference any supporting sources, then we should proceed with caution.

What often causes us to read an article in the first place is its headline. This is what grabs our attention. As speakers what we need to realize is that more often than not, the headline is often not written by the same person who wrote the article. What this means is that the headline may have very little to do with the content of the article. Keep in mind that sensationalism is what will capture people’s attention and so that is how headlines are generally written. We need to appreciate the headline but don’t assume that it has a lot to do with what the real content of the article is all about.

When we are researching a topic, we have to be very aware of how we feel about the topic. There are a number of topics that a lot of us feel very, very strongly about: gun control, abortion, immigration, etc. We need to keep in mind how we feel about a topic as we go looking for material that will either support or take away from our position. The people who create fake news want to capture your attention. They understand that you may care very deeply about a topic. What they will do in order to capture your attention is attempt to write an article that will make you very angry. The people who create fake news know that you have so-called “hot buttons” and they create their content so that it will trigger reactions in you. You can avoid having this happen to you by making sure that you examine what your own biases are. If you know this going in, then you should be well prepared to avoid being set off by fake news that is designed to get you riled up.

What All Of This Means For You

When we give a speech, we’d like to have the largest audience possible so that we can share the benefits of public speaking with them. The reason that more and more people will come to hear us speak is because they want to know what we have to tell them. However, if as we are pulling our speech together we make the mistake of including fake news in our speech, there is a very good chance that our audience is going to see this. If they see that we are sharing fake news with them, they may discount everything else that we are telling them.

The fake news that is being discussed in newspapers, on television, and online these days is not new. Fake news has been around for a long time. During wars and even during the early days of politics in the U.S. fake news has been used to influence how people think about various issues. In our modern times, it has become even easier to both create and distribute fake news. Online tools such as Facebook, Twitter, and Google make it very easy to get fake news out in front of a large number of people. Companies are starting to try to filter out news that is clearly not true. As speakers we need to be careful when we are gathering information for a speech. We need to carefully understand the organization that has published material that we are planning on using. We need to understand that headlines are designed to capture our attention and may not have a lot to do with the article that they are associated with. Finally, we need to understand that fake news writers want to make us angry so we need to carefully manage our own personal biases.

No, fake news is not going to go away. It is a truly powerful way for one group of people to attempt to influence how another group of people think. However, since including fake news in one of our speeches can have such a disastrous impact on how our audience views both our speech and us, we need to take steps to make sure that it never gets in. By carefully examining material before we add it to a speech, we can make sure that everything in our speech is rock solid and there is no fake news here!

– Dr. Jim Anderson
Blue Elephant Consulting –
Your Source For Real World Public Speaking Skills™

Question For You: If you find a piece of information, but the author has not written anything else, should you go ahead and include in in your speech?

Click here to get automatic updates when The Accidental Communicator Blog is updated.
P.S.: Free subscriptions to The Accidental Communicator Newsletter are now available. Subscribe now: Click Here!
Note: What we talked about are advanced speaking skills. If you are just starting out I highly recommend joining Toastmasters in order to get the benefits of public speaking. Look for a Toastmasters club to join in your home town by visiting the web site Toastmasters is dedicated to helping their members to understand the importance of public speaking by developing listening skills and getting presentation tips. Toastmasters is how I got started speaking and it can help you also!

What We’ll Be Talking About Next Time

So you are a speaker. Congratulations. What’s your next step now? Have you ever thought about writing speeches for somebody else? I mean, you can write a pretty good speech for yourself, why not do it for somebody else? You might decide to do this simply because you are a nice person and you want to help somebody out, or you might decide that this is a type of business that you want to go into. No matter your motivation, do you know how to go about writing speeches that another person will deliver?