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Public Speaking: Citing References in Your Speech

Resources for assignments, including researching topics, speaking techniques and presentation skills.

Citing During Your Speech

You may be asked to verbally "cite your sources" during your speech. Because your listeners will not have access to your written reference or works cited list, it is important to take the time to acknowledge your information sources for them. Attributing your sources will enhance your speech by providing credibility. It may also help you demonstrate the quality of your research.

This type of citation is commonly called oral citation.

What to Include

Typically you will want to include at least two basic elements when verbally citing your source, and sometimes three.

  1. WHO
  2. WHAT
  3. WHEN (include for APA citation style; optional but recommended for MLA citation style)

Who = Author

Who wrote or created the information? What is their expertise or authority? What gives them credibility?

What = Title of source

Where specifically did you find this information? It might be the title of an article, a book, a website or a video.

When = Date

When was the source published? Giving the year may be sufficient. For a timely topic, you might indicate the information was recently published, such as "last month" or "last week." If your source has no date, such as a website, indicate when you accessed it. 

Example: "Note-Taking by Hand: A Powerful Tool to Support Memory," an August 2020 article by Professor of Education Hetty Roessingh, argues that taking handwritten notes helps students learn better.
Example 2: Hetty Roessingh, an education professor at University of Calgary, suggests in an August 2020 article, "Note-Taking by Hand," that taking handwritten notes helps students learn better.
Example 3: Taking handwritten notes helps students learn better according to education professor Hetty Roessingh in their August 2020 article, "Note-Taking by Hand: A Powerful Tool to Support Memory."


Quoting vs. Paraphrasing

It is important to distinguish between directly quoting a source and paraphrasing information from it.

Quoting reuses the author's exact words and phrasing. Indicate this to your audience in some way, such as by using the phrase, "I quote..."

Example: As Hamlet famously asked, and I quote, "To be or not to be? That is the question."
Example 2: Shakespeare's Hamlet put it bluntly, "To be or not to be? That is the question."


Paraphrasing puts the source into your own words. Make sure to refer to the WHO, WHAT and possibly WHEN as you paraphrase.


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