This course teaches the value of public speaking and trains students in the practical skills of speech writing, various speech methods, and the presentational skills needed to be an effective communicator and a participant in public discourse, as well as in the professional world.
Public speaking skills are key to professional development, but practice is often intimidating and infrequent, and for students it mostly takes place in a non-professional context. This class is specifically designed to strengthen students’ public speaking and presentation skills in organizational settings and to build their confidence. Students will be trained in speech researching and writing, delivery styles, establishing rapport with an audience, all while practicing and delivering different types of presentations in a supportive environment with professional feedback.
The course begins by asking students to research and write a factual speech on a topic of their choice. Once they have mastered effective information research and selection, and speech structuring and writing, we use the same research materials but switch our aim from information transmission to persuasion. This switch in focus not only means a change in content and delivery, but also demands an engagement with ethical considerations. Audience analysis will help speakers focus both their writing and delivery styles. Next, we shift from the abstract to the personal in the elevator pitch. This will extend presentation proficiencies and hone timekeeping. Finally, students will blend the research, writing and delivery skills they have studied to compose their final mediated speech.
To position students’ own speaking practices, we will critically analyse historic and contemporary examples of oration. Site visits outside the classroom may include Speakers’ Corner, the House of Commons, Conway Hall, or a ‘Salon for the City’ event, either in person or online.
The skills students develop during this course will prepare them for a variety of public speaking and organizational contexts that can include conferences, election campaigns, lecturing, management talks/board meetings, oral exams, as well as the fast-growing context of online, virtual events.
Department: Communications and Rhetorical Studies
Semesters: Fall, Spring