COM380: Study Guide Questions



1. What is ethos?

2. What aspects of a speech and its speaker can reflect ethos?

3. What is signalled ethos?

4. What kind of words alert the audience to signalled ethos?

5. What are five types of signalled ethos and an example of each?

6. What are the ethical concerns over the use of signalled ethos?

My turn: Select a corporate speech from your collection and find three or four examples of signalled ethos. Be prepared to speak about them in terms of type and their contribution to the speaker's credibility.



1. What is rhetorical discourse?

2. What is a rhetorical situation?

3. What is the relationship between a rhetorical situation and rhetorical discourse?

4. What is an exigence?

5. What is a rhetorical exigence?

6. Besides rhetorical discourse, what else arises from a rhetorical situation?

7. What are the three constituents of a rhetorical situation?

8. What is meant by "a fitting response" to a rhetorical situation?

9. What does it mean to say that a rhetorical situation is objective?

My turn: Select a corporate speech from your collection and describe its rhetorical situation. In your description use the terms speaker, audience, rhetorical discourse, exigence, and fitting response.


Campbell, K., Saroya I. Follener, and Guy Shane, (1998) "Preferred Strategies for responding to hostile questions in environmental public hearings," Management Communication Quarterly, 11, 3, 401-421.

1. Describe the type of discourse that Campbell analyzes.

2. Why is Campbell critical of the current discussion about this discourse?

3. Describe Campbell's theoretical base.

4. Why does Campbell think that speech act theory is appropriate for analyzing public meeting discussions?

5. What are the five strategies that speech act theory recommends for responding to hostile questions?

6. What conclusions does Campbell reach regarding these strategies?

My turn: Try to find a corporate speech that includes a question-and-answer session. Try to identify one or more of the strategies that Campbell recommends for responding to hostile questions.


David, Carol and Margaret Baker Graham; "Conflicting Values: Team Management Portrayed in Epic Metaphors," Journal of Business and Technical Communication, vol. 11, no. 1, January 1997, pp. 24-48.

1. Why do David and Graham prefer written texts over oral stories as their objects of study?

2. What is inherent in metaphorical language according to David and Graham?

3. What are epic metaphors?

4. What do David and Graham mean by the phrase "clusters of metaphors?"

5. What do David and Graham mean when they say, "we use a sociolinguistic view of metaphor?"

6. Why is David and Graham's object of analysis (i.e., Walsh's speech) especially apt for sociolinguistic metaphorical analysis?

7. In David and Graham's case study what broader genre do they place Walsh's speech in?

8. What are intertexts and what do David and Graham offer as examples of them?

9. What is metonomy and what are some examples of it?

10. What are two general families of metaphors (what Lakoff and Johnson call conceptual metaphors) do David and Graham discover in Walsh's speech?

11. What contradiction do David and Graham find from their analysis of Walsh's speech?

My turn: Select a speech that seems to contain lots of metaphors. Try to isolate on specific cluster of metaphor and conduct your own analysis as David and Graham did.



1. What issues does story-telling address?

2. What functions do stories serve?

3. What two aspects of human beings do stories appeal to?

4. What is it about corporate vision that makes stories especially useful?

5. What kind of leaders show particular ability at telling stories?

6. How can stories reframe reality?

7. What does it mean to say that stories are social maps?

8. What company has some of the most notable examples of stories?

My turn: Select a speech that seems to contain one or more extended stories. Try to identify how the story frames reality, teaches morals, sets acceptable standard of behavior, and creates a vision.


Friedman, Milton, (1970). "Social Responsibility of Business," The New York Times Magazine Section, September 13, 1970.

1. What is the difference between a "principal" and an "agent?" Why is this difference important to Friedman?

2. Under the traditional free-enterprise system what is the primary responsibility of a corporate agent?

3. What are some social responsibilities that have been imputed to corporate agents?

4. What conflicts arise, according to Friedman, between fiduciary and social responsibilities?

5. What does Friedman mean by the phrase "cloak of social responsibility?"

My turn: Start now to collect speeches that are part of "the traditional free-enterprise system." Try to find examples that reflect your interests and major field of study. One place to start is to do a key word search of the speeches published in Vital Speeches of the Day or Executive Speeches, both available electronically at Hagerty Library. Ideally you will find some speeches in video format on the internet; look for such files on your favorite corporate website. For example, here is a large collection of Bill Gates's speeches:


Galbraith, John Kenneth, (1973). "On the Economic Image of Corporate Enterprise," in Corporate Power in America, eds., Ralph Nader and Mark J. Green, New York: Grossman Publishers, pp. 3-9.

1. According to the traditional view of the corporation what is the difference between the public and the private sectors? Why does Galbraith think this is a specious distinction?

2. What laws are meant to preserve the distinction between public and private sectors? What is Galbraith's opinion of these laws?

3. What does Galbraith mean by the phrase "public character of the great corporation?"

4. What does Galbraith mean by the phrase "the cloak of corporate privacy?"

5. What does Galbraith mean by the phrase "the public view of the corporation?" What world view does he associate with this phrase?

My turn: Search business news archives for items about the corporations you have selected and look for evidence of their sensitivity to the notions of "the cloak of social responsibility," "the public character of the great corporation," "the cloak of corporate privacy," and "the public view of the corporation."



1. Why does Kallendorf think that corporate executives would find Aristotle's topoi attractive?

2. What are topoi?

3. What are Kallendorf's three categories of topoi and an example of each?

4. What is the difference between internal invention and external invention?

My turn: Find a corporate speech that contains the use of two or more topoi. Be prepared to explain how these examples of topoi advance the speaker's argument.

My turn:


Myers, Robert J., and Martha Stout Kessler, “Business speaks: A study of the themes in speeches by America's corporate leaders.” Journal of Business Communication, 17 (3, Spring, 1980), 5-18.

1. Why did Myers and Kessler feel compelled to tell us what corporate executives give speeches about?

2. Did Myers and Kessler's sampling of types of corporation seem representative of the setting that they are studying? Does this sampling seem representative today?

3. How did Myers and Kessler find the "themes in the speeches?"

4. What broad categories of theme did Myers and Kessler find in their sample?

5. What general corporate perspectives on the economy did Myers and Kessler find?

6. What typical theses did Myers and Kessler find in each category of theme?

7. Did Myers and Kessler accomplish their goal as stated in their conclusion?

My turn: Find a recent corporate speech whose theme fits one of Myers and Kessler's categories. How does the speaker's position compare to what Myers and Kessler found 30 years ago? Study the speaker's position and develop a counterargument.


Rogers, Priscilla S. “CEO Presentations in Conjunction with Earnings Announcements: Extending the Construct of Organizational Genre Through Competing Values Profiling and User-Needs Analysis,” Management Communication Quarterly, Volume 13, Issue 3, 2000, Pages: 426-485.

1. In your own words how would you define Rogers's notion of genre? Give a non-corporate example.

2. Use Bitzer's breakdown of rhetorical situation into exigence, audience, and constraints to describe the context of a CEO's earnings announcement.

3. What, says Rogers, do financial analysts look for in a CEO's earnings announcement?

4. What constituted Rogers's data?

5. Describe the four quadrants of the "competing values framework" that Rogers uses for her analysis?

6. How did Rogers use this framework?

7. How did Rogers analyze the content of the speeches?

8. How did Rogers analyze the timing of the speeches?

9. What conclusions does Rogers draw from her analysis?

10. How does she speculate about the effects of CEO earnings announcements?

My turn: Find a recent corporate speech in your collection and identify as narrowly as possible the genre that it exemplifies. Be prepared to explain your choice.



Schneider, Mary Jo, (1998). "The Wal-Mart Annual Meeting: From Small-Town America to a Global Corporate Culture," Human Organization, 57, 3, fall, 292-299.

1. What does Schneider mean by the phrase "the culture of Wal-Mart?"

2. What are communitas and liminal periods?

3. Identify and illustrate three values promoted in Wal-Mart's culture.

4. What is an example of an apparent contradiction between what Wal-Mart preaches and what it practices?

5. In what sense is the Wal-Mart annual meeting a "monologue?"

My turn: Find any information you can about your selected corporation's last annual shareholder meeting. Note any details about the meeting that might reflect the corporation's values.


Tyler, Lisa (1997). Liability means never being able to say you're sorry: Corporate guilt, legal constraints, and defensiveness in corporate communication. Management Communication Quarterly. 11 (1, August), 51-73.

1. What two ways do corporate managers have of defending themselves from public outrages?

2. Describe the example that Tyler uses to illustrate the failure of a defense against public outrage.

3. What dilemma does the prospect of apologizing force on a corporate wrongdoer?

4. What is an equivocal apology?

My turn:



1. How does Vatz's view of meaning differ from Bitzer's?

2. How does Vatz's view of the rhetorical situation differ from Bitzer's?

3. How do Vatz and Bitzer differ in regards to the relationship between rhetorical situation and rhetorical discourse?

4. What are differences in the ethical implications between Bitzer's view of the rhetorical situation and Vatz's?

My turn: Select another speech from your collection and derscribe its rhetorical situation. This time consider how the speaker may have constructed a part of all of this situation rather than merely discovered it.