Public Speaking Online Single Semester

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Students are introduced to public speaking as an important component of their academic, work, and social lives. They study public speaking occasions and develop skills as fair and critical listeners, or consumers, of spoken information and persuasion. Students study types of speeches (informative, persuasive, dramatic, and special occasion), read and listen to models of speeches, and prepare and present their own speeches to diverse audiences. Students learn to choose speaking topics and adapt them for specific audiences, to research and support their ideas, and to benefit from listener feedback. They study how to incorporate well-designed visual and multimedia aids in presentations and how to maintain a credible presence in the digital world. Students also learn about the ethics of public speaking and about techniques for managing communication anxiety.

Unit 1: The What and Why of Public Speaking

Students view and analyze a speech of introduction; study active listening and effective feedback; and learn the fundamental presentation techniques: eye contact, volume, and pacing. They practice breathing and stretching exercises that help manage nervousness, then prepare and deliver a brief speech of introduction and give and respond to feedback.

  • Course Introduction
  • Public Speaking in Daily Life
  • The Elements of Public Speaking
  • Effective Listening
  • The Speaker–Listener Connection
  • Managing Nervousness
  • View, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 2: Powerful Stories: Using Narratives in Public Speaking

Students review the elements of narratives and explore their use in public speaking. They view and analyze a narrative speech, then adapt a narrative of their choice for retelling. They explore appropriate tone and diction, audience analysis, and ethical use of narratives. They learn and practice techniques for managing nervousness, then retell a narrative, giving and reflecting on feedback.

  • What Is a Narrative?
  • Public Speaking, Not Public Writing
  • Stories That Resonate
  • Know Your Audience
  • Narratives in Ads and Appeals
  • Managing Nerves
  • View, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 3: What Do You Think? Connecting to Listeners’ Lives

Students learn how speakers use personal narratives to inform, persuade, and move audiences. After viewing and analyzing a speech, they adapt and present a personal narrative from their own experience, with a special focus on creating effective introductions. They examine the importance of identifying and managing bias, practice presentation techniques, and present personal narratives, giving and receiving feedback.

  • The Impact of Personal Narratives
  • Effective Introductions
  • Developing Your Personal Narrative
  • Public Speaking and Self-Presentation
  • Managing Nerves: Helpful Distractions
  • View, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 4: Three Ways to Deliver a Speech

Students compare three types of delivery: scripted, extemporaneous, and impromptu. They describe appropriate uses of each type, view and analyze a scripted poetic reading, choose a published work to read, and mark up the script for delivery. They review primary and secondary source research, practice effective nonverbal communication as speakers and listeners, and practice effective pacing. They present dramatic readings, giving and receiving feedback.

  • Stick to the Script, or Speak Off-the-Cuff?
  • How to Read, When You Read
  • Research Your Scripted Speech
  • Acting and Speaking
  • Slow Down!
  • View, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 5: Public Speaking for School and Work

Students explore voice-only communications; analyze effective and ineffective voice-only communications; and practice pacing, clarity, preparation, and demeanor. They learn to groom their online personas, practice note-taking skills, and learn why and how to limit verbal clutter. They research career and academic opportunities, prepare and record messages, and give and receive feedback on their voice-only communications.

  • Your Voice Represents You
  • Volume and Pacing in Voice-Only Communications
  • Preparing for Voice-Only Communication
  • What's the Matter with Verbal Clutter?
  • View, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 6: Speech Roadmaps: Introductions, Transitions, and Conclusions

Students focus on the structural elements of speeches and learn to use introductions, transitions, and conclusions to guide listeners through a speech. They view and analyze an information oral report, exploring how simple visual aids help listeners comprehend speeches. They learn techniques for engaging audiences, research and draft an oral report or review, and develop a simple visual aid. They manage nerves by practicing with the aid and then present their oral report or review.

  • Introductions: Beyond the Basics
  • Guiding Listeners with Transitions
  • Effective Conclusions
  • Reliable Sources and the Speaker's Credibility
  • Simple Visual Aids
  • View, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 7: You’re the Expert: Informing Listeners

Students study four patterns of organization (spatial, causal, narrative, and process) often used in speeches. They view and analyze a brief speech that incorporates props, then apply what they know about audience analysis to research for a speech of demonstration or explanation. They draft the speech, practice techniques for using props to clarify and reinforce content, then present, give feedback on, and respond to peers' feedback.

  • Organization: Why Bother?
  • Spatial and Causal Patterns of Organization
  • Organization: Narratives and Process Speeches
  • What Your Audience Needs to Know
  • Using Props in a Speech
  • View, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 8: Making Your Point: Ways to Organize

Students study four patterns of organization (comparison-contrast, advantage-disadvantage, topical, and problem-solution) often used in speeches. They view and analyze a problem-solution speech that incorporates a slide presentation, explore basic design elements, and learn how to effectively integrate slide presentations into speeches. They learn techniques for interacting with live audiences, research and draft a problem-solution speech with slides, present a speech to a live audience, and reflect on audience feedback.

  • Topical and Problem-Solution Patterns of Organization
  • Organizational Patterns That Compare
  • Effective Slide Presentations
  • Live and In Person
  • Read, Reflect, and Plan

Unit 9: Speaking to Persuade

Students explore persuasive speaking, identifying basic fallacies in reasoning that may jeopardize a speaker's credibility. They practice presentation techniques that build speaker credibility and learn to handle audience questions. They view and analyze a speech, then begin to research and plan a persuasive speech incorporating a slide presentation, to be presented at the end of the next unit.

  • Speaking to Persuade
  • Persuading Ethically
  • Listening Critically
  • Researching a Persuasive Topic
  • Your Credibility as a Persuasive Speaker
  • Managing Nerves in High-Stakes Speeches

Unit 10: Methods of Persuasion

Students identify ethical and unethical uses of appeals to emotion and reason. They discuss a model speech and describe their own reactions to persuasive speech. They learn techniques for handling aggressive audience members, and continue drafting and creating the slide presentation for their speech. They develop long-term strategies for practicing public speaking and managing nervousness. They present their speeches and give and receive feedback. Finally, they reflect on what they have learned in the course.

  • Appeals to the Heart
  • Appeals to the Mind
  • Coordinating the Speech's Content and Goals
  • Handling Audience Interruptions
  • Managing Nerves in the Long Run
  • View, Reflect, and Look Ahead

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