DSST Principles of Public Speaking Practice Questions Answer Key

1. E: Listening effectively requires the conscious use of a number of skills. First, the listener should focus on what’s being said. The listener can show the speaker she’s being heard by making eye contact or leaning forward. Forming an early opinion or judgment can cause a misinterpretation of the intended message, and becoming defensive shuts down an open mind. Paraphrasing and asking questions can help clarify the speaker’s intended meaning. Paying attention to tone of voice, inflection, mood, or emotion is also an effective listening technique because they contribute to the message. Tapping on the table (c) is not an effective listening technique.

2. A: In both writing and speaking, effective communication involves a sender who initiates the communication and a receiver (audience) for whom it’s intended. The message is the communication that is received, which may be different from what was intended. The channel is the medium by which the message travels. It might be an e-mail, a presentation, a commercial, or a verbal exchange. Feedback is how the receiver responds, and helps the sender know if the message arrived intact.

3. B: The environment in which a communication is initiated and received plays an important role in how that communication manifests, both because the environmental context contributes to meaning by offering reference, and because the environment can enhance or detract from the receiver’s ability to process the message. Personal space (about 1 1/2 – 4 feet) has a greater bearing on the formation or receipt of the message than does social space (about 4 – 12 feet). It’s important to recognize that both social and personal space vary from culture to culture; what is acceptable in one may not be in another.

4. B: Relational messages, as opposed to content messages, are concerned with the relationship between a speaker and a recipient rather than with the overt subject of the communication. They may convey belonging, respect, or disapproval, among other things. They are frequently largely or entirely nonverbal; because of this, they may be supported with verbal feedback to confirm them. The content of the message, “Should I come over after work?” is a logistical request. If a speaker leans forward to touch a recipient who is weeping, the relational message is “Do you need my support?” The recipient might respond with a nod and a grateful look, or might clarify the speaker’s offer by saying, “I won’t be good company, but you can come.”

5. D: Language comprehension doesn’t necessarily involve sounds or speaking. For example, sign language and written language use different materials to form words. It does, however, require identifying words, knowing their meanings, recognizing how they are being used in the context of a sentence, understanding abstractions such as idioms or references, and drawing a conclusion regarding the message’s meaning.

6. E: Listening is an essential communication skill. In any type of communication, participants spend a substantially greater amount of time listening than speaking. Listening is a learned skill as opposed to a natural, innate ability. Children learn to listen by modeling behaviors demonstrated by others and by practicing. They quickly learn that listening to tone, speed, and volume can offer important nonverbal clues about the overall meaning of a message.

7. E: Expressive language competency is the ability to express oneself orally. In order to use expressive language capably, the speaker must have control over nonverbal as well as verbal aspects of language. First, he or she must obviously know how to use oral language. Body language and gestures can add to or clarify the meaning of an oral message. For instance, turning away suggests dismissal, while leaning toward the recipient suggests inclusion. The tone in which a statement is made can indicate irony, satire, or enthusiasm. It can also introduce emotional or psychological overtones. The context in which a statement is made also affects meaning.

8. D: Before delivering a central point in a speech, the speaker should stop talking for a moment. During that moment of silence, however, it’s important not to disengage. Instead, the speaker should make eye contact, lean or step forward, take an audible deep breath, raise his or her eyebrows, or use other nonverbal methods to alert the audience that what follows is important.

9. B: Debate is a highly useful classroom technique in that it teaches the skills necessary for communication. Each participant must conduct research and consider what he or she knows about the subject; work collaboratively with other students to clarify beliefs and positions; present an argument that is logical, lucid, and on-point; listen to the response as well as to the other team’s message; and respond when appropriate.

10. B: Aristotle’s poetics, written around 335 B.C., is a philosophical text concerned with dramatic presentations and poetry. Poetic genres are categorized in terms of the vehicle of language (language, harmony, and rhythm); objects [agents (actors or symbolic objects) and actions]; and their representative modes, specifically tragedy, comedy, lyric poetry, epic poetry, and dithyramb, a hymn sung and danced by performers.


Last Updated: June 4, 2019