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10 - Critical Thinking Guides

As you go through the entire process of speechmaking—from the initial brainstorming of topics to the final presentation of your speech—you are involved in critical thinking. Each decision and choice you make should be based on some validating criteria.

At the University of Louisville we are involved in helping our students recognize and strengthen their use of critical thinking tools in order to improve their work and educational learning.

Dr. Richard Paul and Dr. Linda Elder have written a guide to help you understand the process of critical thinking and to incorporate these skills into every educational pursuit you undertake in college and life.

In The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools, Paul and Elder propose you ask yourself the following questions to guide you as critical thinkers. We have adapted their use focusing on the speechmaking process.


What is the purpose/goal I am trying to accomplish in my speech? What do I want the audience to know, think, feel, or do when I am done with my speech?


What question am I addressing? What are the needs of my listeners?


What information am I providing to support my goal and purpose? What experience do I bring to the topic, method, and goal?


What are the concepts I want my listeners to understand? Are they clear? Are they relevant? Do they make sense?


What assumptions have I made about my listeners, their knowledge level, their interests, their needs? Are my assumptions valid? Am I taking my listeners for granted? How can I answer the listeners’ questions or assumptions?


Have I reasoned out all aspects and lines of thinking in presenting my evidence? What is my support for the inferences and suggestions I am making in my speech? Have I evaluated the sources I will use for support?

Points of View

Do I acknowledge, allow, and respect other points of view from my listeners? In the speech-building stages, how do I incorporate these opposing views? How do I respond to the other points of view?


Do I understand the ramifications and results of the position and goal I am presenting in my speech? How can I incorporate these pieces of information as I progress as a speech writer and presenter?

Dr. Richard Paul, Dr. Linda Elder. The Miniature Guide to Critical Thinking: Concepts and Tools. The Foundation for Critical Thinking Press. 5th Edition. 2008. For more information on this model, go to: paul-elder-critical-thinking-model.

10 - Critical Thinking Guides
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