One of the best ways to improve your effectiveness as a speaker is to learn how to select and use supporting materials. Supporting materials are necessary to make your ideas clear or more persuasive to your listener. Although there are different lists of supporting materials, most experts in the speech field agree on these six: examples, explanation, statistics, testimony, comparison and contrast, and visual aids. You have most likely used each of these during your lifetime, perhaps without being aware that there was a specific name for each. Suppose, for example, that you want to convince your parents that your new boyfriend is the ideal male. You might use any of the six supporting devices to support your assertion:

Example: “Mom and Dad, you're going to love Chris. He's one of the kindest people I've ever met. He puts in eight hours of volunteer work a week at the Mayville Nursing Home, he's a big brother to an 11-year-old boy from the inner city, and he supports a little Cambodian child through the Christian Children's Fund.”

Explanation: “I see Chris as the perfect male. The consideration with which he treats me makes me feel special and loved, and his sensitivity to music, art, literature, and nature makes him a fascinating person to be with.”

Statistics: “Chris is six feet tall, he weighs 180 pounds, and he makes over $60,000 a year.”

Testimony: “Rabbi Silberg, who is on the board of directors of Mayville Nursing Home, says Chris is one of the hardest-working and best-liked volunteers they have.”

Comparison and contrast: “Chris isn't like any man I've ever met. The others have been interested in doing only what they want and in satisfying their own egos. Chris believes that love is a sharing, and that's the way he acts.”

Visual aids: “Here are some snapshots of Chris. Doesn't he have a pleasant, open face? And did you notice how neatly he dresses?”