Public Speaking

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Required Materials
: Notebook/folder or binder with a section for note taking

Suggested Materials : Note cards

Course Description and Objectives: 

This course is an introduction to speech communication that emphasizes the practical use of public speaking, including techniques to lessen common anxieties known as “stage fright” and strategies for improvisational speech. Students will learn to utilize visual aids for the enhancement of their presentations and construct appropriate communication plans for both special and mundane occasions. Civility and ethical speech-making are he foundations of this course. Its goal is to prepare students for success in public speech situations and to equip them with the tools to organize effective, expressive speeches. 

In an information-based society, we are often bombarded with modes of “communication” that are self-referential; we find that we’re always expected to listen to or say something, regardless of whether our words reflect truth or emanate artistry. In the words of Robert Frost, our dilemma reaches a troublesome conclusion, wherein “half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it.”

This course aims to prove that we, as a community, have something to say. What’s more, we’re going to discover the most powerful, world-changing ways to say it. 

Expected Student Learning Outcomes: 

Tests and speaking assignments in this course are designed to assess student learning in the areas listed below. After completing this course, you should be able to:

Prepare speeches that inform, persuade, or fulfill the needs of a special occasion

Use creative aids to enhance the depth and effect of your speeches

Outline speeches so that they follow a logical flow with maximum clarity

Research topics with academic discretion

Analyze audience types for anticipated reception types

Provide constructive critique for others’ speeches

Listen effectively and with a respectful demeanor, regardless of subject matter

Understand and explain multiple modes of communication and interpersonal skills


As with all English Electives, quarterly grades will be composed of assessments as follows:

Major Assessments (Major Speeches or Planned Activities) – 45%

Minor Assessments (Prep work, Quizzes, Worksheets) – 20%

Homework – 20% 

Participation – 15%

This is a performance-based course, with the primary emphasis on the ability to deliver an effective speech. Students are therefore required to choose a venue to deliver a speech in a public setting by the end of the semester for completion. Common choices include community events, board meetings, church/youth group services, school clubs/activities, homeroom announcements, and other meetings outside of our class period. There is no time requirement for these speeches, though the context must be approved by the instructor. 

Additionally, students need to complete a speech critique analyzing live examples of public speaking outside of the class. 

Public Speech (each semester): 50 pt. project (completion, proof and reflection provided)

Live Speech Critique (each semester): 50 pt. essay analyzing content, strengths, and weaknesses of the speech (min. 500 words)

Other projects are assigned based on class progress with posted due dates. The instructor will use a variety of methods in this course including in-class activities, written reflections, presentations, monologues/dialogues, content quizzes, and peer evaluations. All course assignments and requirements must be completed to earn a passing grade. 

Late or unprepared Work

Late work will lose 10% of its possible points if not turned on time, with an additional 10% subtracted for every additional school day the work is not performed or turned in. 

An additional 10 point detraction will be incurred if no notice is given before a class where a speech is planned. Alerts should be sent via email before the beginning of class where a speech day is assigned.

Extra Credit

Students may earn one Major and two Minor assessments at 100% for any of the following:

Online Speech Observation (in the style of a live speech critique): 15 pts

Additional Live Speech Critique: 15 pts

Additional Public Speech: 25 pts 

Course requirements also include self-evaluations and peer-evaluations for all formal speeches. 

Classroom Presentations & Civility: On speech days, your attentive listening is an absolute requirement. Your speech grade may be nullified if you interfere with the quality of another student’s presentation.