Class Updates 9/3: Impromptu Speaking & The SUPPORTS System

Today we discussed the “SUPPORTS” system (yes, I checked to see if you did the homework) and we practiced using different supports in small groups. Each group received the same central idea, which appeared in NYU-trained pop journalist Dayna Evans’ piece entitled “Tinder is Dead,” which was published by Gawker earlier this year (

By making the process so casual and disconnected, [Tinder} recognizes that nontraditional relationships and sexual encounters are the norm today. But by allowing us to play into our desire for a simple, no-frills path to hookups and dating, the swipe-right culture makes you start to feel like everyone looks and is the same. Tinder gives us what we think we want, but without the spark or intrigue, or any of the human effort that normally goes into sex and dating.

Groups were asked to re-interpret the central idea to be more concise (but no less interesting). Then they were assigned 2 of the 8 categories of SUPPORTS (we’re not working with proofs yet – we’ll get to those later) and asked to create specific versions of those categories to support their central idea. Then we delivered. Here is one of my favorite examples:

Central Idea: Tinder teaches us to approach relationships as consumers—not producers—so that each person is only as good as their quick-view brand.

Analogy: It’s similar to seeing a new advertisement for the Burger King Double Cheese Jalapeno Burger or whatever. The burger on the screen is hot, and juicy, and you see fresh jalapenos being cut and cheese slowly melting. So you impulsively—after just 30 seconds—drive to pick one up. The product you get on the other end is lukewarm with a skinny, soggy bun, half melted cheese, and maybe one, very sad, very wilted jalapeno on top, if you’re lucky. This is what Tinder teaches us – to not expect much because inevitably we will get disappointed.

Universal: It’s like the old saying, “you can’t judge a book by it’s cover.” But with Tinder you DO judge a book by the cover, and you’re okay with that. And that cover had better be good. Because you know you’re never going to read the book, so all you’ve got is a bunch of covers to look at.

This is as close to “prep” for the impromptu speech as you can get. I will see you Tuesday for the impromptu speech (remember to bring some note cards) and if you have good ideas for topics you can email me at or post them in the comments below!


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I am a rhetorical scholar, public speaker, and teacher at the State University of New York at Geneseo. I study speech and contemporary U.S. political culture and teach courses in public speaking, interpersonal and visual communication, speech and media, and rhetorical theory and criticism. I have been featured on RabbitBox Storytelling and TEDx.

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