Public Speaking Assignments

 

Dr. Kathleen Torrens

Assistant Professor                              

Communication Studies            

University of Rhode Island                   

Independence 308A                            

Kingston, RI  02881                            

 (401)874-4809                                  

kmtorrens@uri.edu                              

 

 

1.  Grading of Speeches

2.  The Speech Plan: General Information

3.  Autobiographical Speech

4.  Informative Speech:  Cultural Perspective

5.  Speech Plan: Cultural Perspective

6.  Informative Speech:  Multiculturalism

7.  Speech Plan: Multiculturalism

8.  Persuasive Speech:  Policy

9.  Speech Plan: Persuasive Speech

 

Grading of speeches:

 

An "A" speech:

* is an excellent speech.

* demonstrates investments of time and energy in organization, preparation and practice.

* is delivered smoothly.

* cites sources of information in the body of the speech.

* engages the audience with eye contact, techniques of audience adaptation, and consideration of the audience's experiences, knowledge, and interests.

* makes its specific purpose known.

* is clearly informative or persuasive, according to the assignment.

* fulfills all of the requirements of the assignment, as detailed on the assignment sheet.

 

A "B" speech:

            * is above average.

            * is well-organized.

            * makes its specific purpose known.

            * is clearly informative or persuasive, according to the assignment.

            * demonstrates efforts at smooth delivery (demonstrates some practice).

            * demonstrates some consideration of the audience.

* fulfills most of the requirements of the assignment, as detailed on the assignment sheet.

 

A "C" speech:

            * is average.

            * must demonstrate some thought and preparation, including organization.

            * must attempt to fulfill the assignment.

 

A "D" speech:

            * does not fulfill the requirements of the assignment.

            * is not organized.

            * has not been practiced.

 

An "F" speech:

            * should be avoided. Do not waste our time.

 


 

The Speech Plan: General information

 

The speech plan is an organizational preparation tool that will help you make appropriate choices for effective presentations.  Used properly, this tool will not only make your experience as a communicator in this class better, it will improve your grades. 

 

You will prepare and turn in a speech plan for all presentations in this class.  In order to receive credit for your speech plan, it must:

                       

                        a)         include ALL the required elements;

                        b)         be typed, proofread, and grammatically correct;

                        c)         be turned in before you make your presentation.

 

Speech plans that do not fulfill these requirements will earn zero points.

 

Basically, the speech plan is an opportunity for you to work through and explain the decisions that you make as you prepare each presentation.  As we will discuss, any strategic interaction requires a speaker to make many choices that will affect the outcome of the conversation.  These are the choices that I want you to articulate in each speech plan.


 

Autobiographical Speech  (25 points)                      

Speech Plan (15 points)                                                                        Time limit:      3-4 minutes

 

The primary purpose of this assignment is to get you in front of the class, talking about something with which you are familiar and comfortable—yourself.  This speech will also help the class members get to know each other better.

 

Select (and bring to class when you give your speech) an artifact or object that symbolizes something important to you.  This can be something that relates to your heritage, your family, your goals, your hobbies, your past, your future…. anything (other than illegal items).  Choose this item according to what you want us to know about you and what you think is interesting and unique about yourself. 

 

Use the artifact as a springboard to introduce yourself.  Talk about what the item is and how it relates to you and your life.  Strive for the following basic elements in this speech:

 

1.  Develop one theme that is symbolized in the object you have brought to class.  Avoid tangents.

 

2.  Create an introduction that a) gets the audience’s attention, b) clearly introduces your artifact, and c) clearly details what you are going to talk about.

 

3.  Speak extemporaneously.  Do not memorize your speech, do not read your speech.  You may use 1 note card.

 

4.  Do not exceed the 4 minute time limit.  You must practice your speech.  You may bring your own stop watch, use your watch, ask someone in the class to signal you when time is short, or any other (subtle) means of keeping track of your time.  I will signal you when you are OUT of time.

 

When you give your speech, you must turn in a typed (and proofread) speech plan that includes the following:

 

1) one page outline of your main points and supporting material;

2) identification of at least two goals that you have for this speech;

3) identification of at least one major challenge that you face in accomplishing this speech;

4) specific ideas about how you will overcome that challenge.

 

 

 

 


INFORMATIVE SPEECH:  Cultural Perspective  

Speech:  50 points                  Speech plan: 25 points                                   Time limit: 5-6 minutes

 

1.  The purpose of this speech is twofold: a) you are asked to research an area that is of interest to you and to your audience; and b) you are asked to examine this research and decide what information would be of particular benefit for your audience.  As you prepare your speech, remind yourself of the distinction we have discussed between informative and persuasive presentations.  Be aware of your intentions, which should be reflected in your specific purpose and central idea/thesis statement.

           

2.  You are expected to define, explain, describe, or demonstrate a specific aspect of your cultural experience as a human being. This speech should examine a person, an idea, a belief, a tradition or ritual, a practice, a skill, an event, an object, a symbol, or any other unique aspect of your life from an ethnic or sociological sub-group experience.

The cultural perspectives speech is a specific variety of the informative speech. Therefore, you are encouraged to emphasize conveying information to your audience rather than persuading your audience to change action or attitude. Rather your purpose should be to share information about who you are and how your heritage contributes to your identity.

Some examples of such a speech might include one of the following:

Describe the roots of your family heritage, exploring the reasons why or the ways in which your family ended up in the Northeast (or wherever they live);

Define the meaning of an abstract value (e.g. freedom, family, individualism, community, justice, strength) from the perspective of your unique cultural experience;

Describe and discuss a historical event of significance to your culture (e.g. a U.S. war or conflict, Cinco de Mayo, Holocaust);

Demonstrate and explain a specific skill, tradition, object, symbol, or ritual relating to your cultural heritage (e.g. Passover seder, Ramadan, couscous). Explain the significance of this item from a personal and cultural perspective.

 

3.  Be sure to provide appropriate, accurate, credible support for your information.  Cite the sources of your information in the body of your speech. 

 

4.  Give the speech extemporaneously.  Use note cards, do NOT read from a piece of paper.

 

5.  You are required to use a visual aid in this speech.  Give some thought to this component.  Ask me if you are not sure what to use.  It can be an overhead, a poster, or other form of visual aid as described in your book. Be sure that it illustrates a key point of your speech. The images and text must be large enough to read at the back of the room. A transparency made from normal 12 pt type is not acceptable. You may use handouts, but they do not count as visual aids. Your visual aid must be integrated into your speech. It is insufficient to hold it up at the end and say, "Oh yeah, here's my visual aid." Refer to your book for details about visual aids.

 


Speech Plan: Cultural Perspective

 

Required Elements  (All elements MUST be included or your speech plan will earn no credit!)

 

1.  General Purpose

 

2.  Specific Purpose

 

3.  Thesis Statement/Central Idea

 

4.  Audience:  To whom are you speaking?  What characteristics of your audience are significant to your topic?  What attitudes, values, or beliefs are important?  Finally, how will you accommodate or adjust to your audience?

 

5.  Setting:

                        a.  Describe the physical location in which you are speaking.  What “noise” exists in the setting, and how will you adjust to or minimize it?

 

6.  Outline of major ideas: (This should be the most significant portion of your speech plan.)

                        a.  Remember to limit the number of main ideas that you attempt to share.  This is a matter of quality, not quantity.  You must leave time for providing evidence, giving direction, etc.

                        b.  List the major ideas you will include in your presentation.  List the ideas and evidence that will support your main points.  Be clear, concise, and complete. 

                        c.  Assessment questions (Do not answer these questions in your plan. They are for your guidance.) Is there sufficient evidence?  Is there balance between each major idea?  Is the logic of your presentation evident?  Have you made your ideas accessible to your audience (will they understand them)?  Will you audience understand what you expect them to learn from your presentation?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you still have work to do.

                        d.  Cite all sources of information used in the body of your outline. 

 

7.  Annotated Bibliography of at least 4 sources (only one of which may be a WWW site. You may use .edu and .org sites as well as online journal and newspaper articles).  Use correct APA or MLA format.  Describe each source in a couple of sentences, demonstrating its applicability to your speech.

 

8.  Visual aid(s):

                        a.  Identify and justify each audio/visual aid you have chosen.

                                                1.  What point(s) will this aid help to explain? 

                                                2.  What is the purpose of your aid?

 

9.  Improvement plan:

                        a.  Based on your previous presentation experience (in this class and otherwise), what elements of presentational speaking do you want to improve?  What challenge(s) does this speech present for you, and how (specifically) do you plan to address them?

 

INFORMATIVE SPEECH: MULTICULTURALISM

Speech: 75 points  Speech plan: 50 points                                        Time limit:  6-7 minutes

 

For this speech, choose a topic that deals explicitly and informatively with some element of American multiculturalism.  You may start with any broad area that interests you, i.e., gender, economic status, race/ethnicity, religion.  From there, focus your topic carefully around a much more narrow issue or question, remembering that your job is to enlighten and teach your audience.

 

Examples include: Korean war brides, poverty in the U.S./Northeast, the minimum wage issue, racial profiling, the gay marriage or adoption debates, hungry children in your community, illiteracy rates in your community, Hinduism, the high holy days of any religion, Japanese internment camps during World War II.

 

Speech plan: Multiculturalism

 

Required elements:

 

1.  General Purpose

 

2.  Specific Purpose

 

3.  Thesis Statement/Central Idea

 

4.  Outline of major ideas: (This should be the most significant portion of your speech plan.)

                        a.  Remember to limit the number of main ideas that you attempt to share. 

                        b.  List the major ideas you will include in your presentation.  List the ideas and evidence that will support your main points.  Be clear, concise, and complete. 

                        c.  Assessment questions (Again, these are for your guidance):  Is there enough evidence?  Is there balance between each major idea?  Is the logic of your presentation evident?  Have you made your ideas accessible to your audience (will they understand them)?  Will you audience understand what you expect them to learn from your presentation?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you still have work to do.

                        d.  Cite all sources of information used in the body of your outline. 

 

5.  Annotated Bibliography of at least 4 sources (only one of which may be a WWW site. You may use .edu, .org, and online news and scholarly sources).  Use correct APA or MLA format.  Describe each source in a couple of sentences, demonstrating its applicability to your speech.

 

6.  Visual aid(s):

                        a.  Identify and justify each audio/visual aid you have chosen.

                                                1.  What point(s) will this aid help to explain? 

                                                2.  What is the purpose of your aid?

 

7.  Improvement plan:

                        a.  Based on your previous presentation experience (in this class and otherwise), what elements of presentational speaking do you plan to improve?  Specifically, what do you plan to do, in order to improve?  Be specific and clear.


PERSUASIVE SPEECH: Policy

Speech: 100 points                 Speech Plan: 75                      Time limit: 8-9 minutes

 

1.  Choose a contemporary social problem facing the United States.  This topic may be related to your second informative presentation relating to multiculturalism.  If you choose this route, your presentation must go beyond your earlier presentation with substantive research and claims.  Otherwise, check the newspaper and relevant sources to find a problem that concerns you. Research the problem and its causes and effects, and develop a plan to address the problem.  The topic should be of interest to you and to your audience.  Your topic should be one with at least two clear sides, and one with which at least most of your audience is likely to disagree.  It will be easier to assert and defend a position if you actually know something about the topic and believe in your position.  Be sure you are comfortable taking a strong stand.  The purpose of this assignment is to give you the opportunity to defend a position important to you, as well as to learn how to construct sound, strong arguments for a particular audience and situation.

 

The goal of this speech is to change, by some degree, the thought or action of your audience in relation to your chosen subject. However, this is not a value speech. Thus, your presentation must center around an explicitly stated policy claim. In other words, "should" or "ought" are to be used in the thesis explicitly.

Please recognize that the power and passion of your presentation depends on the homework you do. Investigate the issue and relate it to your audience's interests and values. Be aware of issues and values that weigh on your audience's mind.

Additionally, remember to construct and deliver arguments. An argument is not simply a claim but a claim with support. Therefore, it is vital that you support your argument with evidence rather than simply providing the audience with your opinion on the topic.

2.  Research your speech. The better speeches are those that are well-researched and offer quality supporting evidence to bolster the claims offered. The speaker is at an advantage by providing different types of supporting evidence. This implies that you will seek out current research on the topic, and that you refrain from using only one or two types of evidence. Remember also to cite your sources and emphasize your credibility. Find published and/or interview sources that will help you support your arguments and enhance your speaker credibility.   Avoid plagiarism. 

3.  Format:

 

a) Establish the NEED or the PROBLEM.

            - Define the problem and prove its existence and importance.

- Establish that the problem causes harm, describe to whom and how badly people are harmed.  How extensive is the problem?

            - Thoroughly analyze and discuss the harms and negative effects of this problem.  Consider harms not only to people, but to the environment, the economy, social ills, etc.

            - Determine why the problem exists.  What is its cause, or causes?  Can the cause be eradicated? This may affect how you go about solving the problem.

 

b)  Propose a plan or policy to solve or alleviate the problem.

- This should be a detailed solution to the problem.  In other words, ending homelessness is much more complicated than “my plan is to end homelessness.”  Give specific details of the plan, including organizations that need to be established, procedures to be implemented, and considering who will pay any bills.  How will your solution occur?  When? Who is in charge?

            - This does not need to be an original plan that you develop; you may use plans that have been proposed by others.  In any case, you must demonstrate that the plan or policy you advocate directly addresses the problem you have defined.

 

c)  Outcomes:

- Clearly discuss both the positive and negative outcomes likely from the implementation of your proposal.  Recognize that any major change to the social structure has its downside, regardless of how many problems it solves.  Be realistic.  However, if you wish your audience to be persuaded of the benefits of your plan, the positive outcomes should outweigh the negative.

 

4.  You are required to use a visual aid for this speech.

 

5.  As always, deliver your speech extemporaneously from note cards. Do NOT read or memorize your speech!

 

Examples:  gays and lesbians should be allowed to marry, Japanese-Americans who were interred in camps (and their heirs) should be compensated financially, college students should be required to volunteer in literacy clinics on their campuses, Northeastern University should establish a free lunch program for children in the surrounding neighborhoods.

 


Speech Plan: Persuasive Speech

 

Required Elements:

 

1.  General Purpose

 

2.  Specific Purpose

 

3.  Thesis Statement/Central Idea

 

4.  Audience:

                        a.  What characteristics of your audience are significant to your topic?  What attitudes, values, or beliefs are important?  What does your audience know and/or believe about your topic?  What is their position on the topic?  How strongly do they agree or disagree with you? 

                        b.  How will you accommodate or adjust to your audience’s values, beliefs, knowledge, values, etc.?  Be very specific as you illustrate to me how you have considered and accommodated the audience you seek to persuade.  What strategies did you consider, what strategies did you adopt and which did you discard, in deciding how to achieve persuasion?

 

5.  Outline of major ideas: (This should be the most significant portion of your speech plan.)

                        a.  Remember to limit the number of main ideas that you attempt to share. 

                        b.  List the major ideas you will include in your presentation.  List the ideas and evidence that will support your main points.  Be clear, concise, and complete. 

                        c.  Assessment questions (As usual, for your guidance.):  Is there enough evidence?  Is there balance between each major idea?  Is the logic of your presentation evident?  Have you made your ideas accessible to your audience (will they understand them)?  Will you audience understand what you expect them to learn from your presentation?  If the answer to any of these questions is “no,” you still have work to do.

                        d.  Cite all sources of information used in the body of your outline. 

 

6.  Annotated Bibliography of at least 5 sources (only one of which may be a WWW site. You may use .edu, .org and online news and journal sources.). 

 

7.  Visual aid(s):

                        a.  Identify and justify each audio/visual aid you have chosen.

                                                1.  What point(s) will this aid help to explain? 

                                                2.  What is the purpose of your aid?

 

8.  Improvement plan:

                        a.  Based on your previous presentation experience (in this class and otherwise), what elements of presentational speaking do you plan to improve?  Specifically, what do you plan to do, in order to improve?  Be specific and clear.