Basic Public Speaking

Basic Public Speaking

Room 851

Ahhhh…, like…. you know…uhm uhm… well….so ……. These are all the most common verbal fillers used on an everyday basis. Are you guilty of some of these.  You may think that speaking in public is a fate worse than death. You may hate standing in front of a crowd but you must be prepared because you will be called on to speak publically more often than you think. Learning to communicate well and speak with poise is among the most beneficial skills with which you can leave high school.  Now, I know you are thinking I’m not going to be a public speaker, or a comedian, or a politician, so why do I have to take speech?  Regardless of which career path you choose, you will have to interact with people.  In fact, to even get a job you will have to go through an interview and, irrespective of how knowledgeable and well-qualified you are for the position, you must be able to convince the interviewer(s) that you are the best candidate for the job. Unless you possess superhuman telepathic abilities, you will have to use speech. You will use speech to persuade, cajole, entertain, share, convey information and more so, open your mind, clear your throat, and get ready to overcome your fears and become a better orator.

Course Description

Basic Public Speaking is a half-year course aimed at introducing students to the basic concepts of communication. It aims to make students not only better communicators, but better rhetoricians; people capable of using sound and ethical rhetoric and of analyzing other forms of communication for subtle usage of logos, ethos, and pathos.

Instructional Materials

Other notable speeches and examples of interpersonal communication from films and websites.

Course Outline Speeches

(Subject to Change)

Elements of Speech

  1. Couples Dialogue:  Many times we try to communicate with one another and our message is not received properly.  Often when listening to someone’s speech we become distracted by trying to respond to our own feelings rather than listening to the overall message. You will work with a partner to understand the true meaning of their speech.

  2. Reading: Many of us have enjoyed story time, either as children or at reading at the local book store. There readings are dramatic, involve making faces and voices based on the genre of the work. You will pull a genre from a bowl and you will be expected to read an excerpt from a book of choice to the class using these specific techniques.

  3. Silent Movie:  Students will create a short silent-movie scene to demonstrate non-verbal communication.  No vocal utterances (talking or otherwise) or use of text will be permitted.  Therefore, facial expressions, hand gestures, and body movements are required to convey meaning.  Use of a “silent movie soundtrack” (ie. music without lyrics) is okay.  This assignment may be performed live or video recorded.

  4. Active Listening:  Rather than speaking, students will listen to a speech which will be paused periodically, at which time they will be asked to respond to a question relating to the content of the previous section.  This assignment is designed to make students aware of the integral value of active listening.

  5. Poetry Out Loud:  Students will select a piece of poetry (long enough that it takes at least 45 seconds to recite) to memorize and perform for the class.  It will be graded on memorization, poise, and vocal dynamics.

Informative Speech

  1. Introduction Speech: A short “who I am” speech (1-2 minutes) to help break the ice and foster community.  It will be an all-or-nothing grade.  In other words, everyone who presents gets full credit for speaking!

  2. Group Presentation:  In groups of 3 or 4, students will choose from a list of topics about which to prepare a presentation.  Students will be graded on how well they interact with their groups and their involvement in the actual presentation.  As in professional presentations, groups will be required to use technology and visual aids to help convey information.

Persuasive Speech

  1. Persuasive Speech:  Students will individually present a 2-3 minute persuasive speech, about a current controversial topic. This is about convincing your audience and the art of argumentation.

  2. Advertisement: Students will prepare and present a 3-5 minute persuasive speech in the form of a long advertisement or infomercial.  It may be for a product, issue, or political campaign.  

  3. Rant: Students will be prepared to be angry but precise about a topic about which they feel especially passionate. Students will be expected to display proper tone and volume for this assignment.

Special Occasion Speech

  1. “Who’s on First?”:  Using Abbot and Costello’s famous sketch as a model, students will develop a short sketch in pairs demonstrating a conversation in which one party is continually misunderstood by the other.

  2. Impromptu Speech:  Students will present a 1 minute speech on any given topic.  Students will not know their topic in advance and must use prior knowledge and improv to present their speech.  Students may use any of the types of speeches to convey their topic to the audience.

  3. Know Your Audience:  In pairs, students will present two 1-minute conversations on the same topic, first as high school peers and then as a high school student with a grandparent, to demonstrate how we alter our speech depending on our audience.

  4. Job Interview:  In pairs, students will prepare and present an interview for a summer job.  With one as the interviewer and the other as the interviewee, students will illustrate the steps in the interview process.  Afterward, each interview will be discussed by the class to increase awareness of best interview practices and responses.  


  1. Final Paper and Speech:  Students will compose a speech/paper  of 7-9 minutes based on a current hot topic. Students should cite at least 3 reputable sources and include multimedia in the presentation.  More info to come...

Class Expectations

The class will be challenging, but if you follow these basic expectations, you WILL succeed:

  1. BE HERE. ON TIME. (Four lates and you are written up)

  2. When you come in be prepared to learn.  

  3. ABSOLUTELY no cell phones unless told otherwise.  Taking out your cell phone (even to check something) will deduct points from your speech grade.

  4. Respect yourself, your classmates, and the teacher.

  5. Participate.

  6. Be Brave. Have fun.

  7. Be positive.


Grading Policy

Classwork and Participation 10%

Quizzes and Assignments   20%

Speeches   50%

Final Paper and Speech   20%

Late Assignments

Late Assignments will be penalized 10% per day late.  In cases of planned absences, missed assignments are due BEFORE you leave.