Communication and Media Studies 114

COMS 114: Public Speaking

Credit Hours: (3) Three hours lecture/performance

Techniques and fundamentals of public speaking; methods for improving poise and confidence, delivery, construction of speeches and critical evaluation of speeches and speakers. For students who wish to improve their ability to communicate in public.


Detailed Description of Content of Course

This is an elective course within the university's general education requirements for the humanities. Many departments require students to take this course to graduate. Thus, the department teaches this course as a service to the university and offers approximately 22 sections each semester taught by a number of different instructors. The following content description indicates essential expectations for all sections.

Lecture material includes instruction on the following topics:

  • differences between written and spoken communication;
  • how to research, organize, and plan a speech;
  • how to develop and use speaking notes;
  • how to rehearse a speech;
  • effective verbal and nonverbal speaking strategies;
  • audience analysis;
  • differences between informative and persuasive purposes;
  • strategic differences in planning and presenting informative versus persuasive speeches;
  • how to be a critical listener and evaluator of public presentations.

Because this is also a performance course, much of the learning content of the course occurs in the classroom after each of the several speeches presented by each student. At that time both fellow students and the instructor evaluate each speech, and the speaker and the rest of the audience learn through the evaluation process.


Detailed Description of Conduct of Course

Lecture material is integrated with student written work, speech presentations, and written or oral evaluations. Each student presents at least three well planned and thoroughly rehearsed speeches for grade: one is an informative speech, one is a persuasive speech, and the remaining are to be designated by the instructor. Written work consists of (1) outlines or scripts that indicate organization and planning for each speech, and (2) written evaluations of presentations by fellow students or by speakers outside of class. Exams cover text readings, lectures, and handouts.


Goals and Objectives of the Course

Improve ability to speak effectively, and with ease and confidence in public situations. Increase capacity to listen critically and purposefully to a variety of publicly delivered messages. Develop a useful appreciation of the communication factors involved in the speaker-listener interaction of public speaking situations.


Assessment Measures

Written exams are employed to test comprehension of concepts and applications derived from text, lecture, and handout materials. Written and oral evaluations are provided by the instructor for speech presentations. Written materials indicating speech planning and organization are returned to students with instructor comments.


Other Course Information

Because of the performance nature of this course, student attendance is considered mandatory. Students who anticipate absences (for example due to leadership or sports activities) should plan to take this course when they know they can attend regularly. The performance nature of this course also dictates that lecture material and readings must be covered and examined early in the semester. For this reason, a final exam is not appropriate for this course. If necessary, instructors may use the final exam period to finish the last round of graded speeches.


Review and Approval

September, 2001 Bill Kennan, Chair