Speech 25: Persuasive Public Speaking

This course explores persuasive public speaking and helps students learn to craft messages of influence. Approaching persuasive public speaking as transactional, students will engage in audience analysis during speech invention, organization, language choices, and delivery. Assignments include formal speeches (to convince and to actuate), brief extemporaneous speeches, speech and argument analyses, and peer speech evaluations. Peer group work will facilitate speech preparation and provide a forum to audition arguments and ideas. No prerequisites. Limited enrollment. 

To view the full ORC description, which indicates terms the course is scheduled to be offered, follow this link: Speech 25

We start the course with a basic question: How can we craft and deliver messages that influence and engage audiences?

In this course, we will consider the process of persuasive public speaking from the origination of an idea through post-speech analysis and evaluation. We’ll draw on advice of ancient rhetoricians as well as contemporary scholars, including empirical social scientific investigations of affect, source credibility, and literary techniques. 

As part of our exploration of persuasive public speaking, we’ll consider persuasion in multiple domains, including marketing, law, and health campaigns. We’ll consider which challenges and opportunities are unique to public speaking venues while examining persuasion in mass- and computer-mediated messages. 

There will be two major formal speeches in the course, several brief speeches, written activities, peer evaluations, and class discussions. The online Blackboard (Bb) course site will be used often in the course for blog postings, discussions, document distribution, evaluations, pre- and post-speech analysis, Wikis, and other purposes. 

How do we transform our arguments into clear, convincing, compelling and credible speeches? How do we craft and deliver public messages that persuade? Discovering answers to these questions and many others will be a challenging and rewarding goal of this course.

Course Goals

The overriding goal of the course is for you to become a more persuasive and informed public speaker, with improved skills in researching, organizing, developing, and delivering persuasive messages. Ethics of persuasive speaking will be considered at each stage of the process.

To achieve this goal, we will aim for the following primary learning objectives:

  •  to become better persuasive public speakers through the practice of persuasive public speaking;
  •  to help others become better persuasive speakers through observation, collaboration, and constructive criticism. (A more nuanced idea of what we what we mean by “better” is another goal of this course.)

To meet these primary objectives, I will help you to:

  • offer a thoughtful definition of what it means to persuade;
  • gain insight into contemporary persuasive speaking from ancient and contemporary rhetorical principles;
  • read and explain persuasion scholarship;
  • survey persuasion, social influence, and compliance-gaining theories to craft more persuasive messages;
  • incorporate understandings of dissonance into speeches;
  • discover effective methods of choosing and refining persuasive speech topics and theses;
  • demonstrate ways of incorporating ethos, pathos, and logos appeals into speeches;
  • use speech organizational strategies that best articulate your persuasive arguments;
  • select wording that is clear, concise, accurate, and impacting;
  • practice persuasive delivery techniques, including nonverbal, vocal, and paralinguistic factors;
  • ponder ethical challenges of persuasive public speaking;
  • develop and assess counter-positions of arguments;
  • summarize, analyze, and apply contemporary persuasion research findings;
  • survey persuasive messages strategies in health, law, and marketing contexts;
  • increase confidence in your public speaking aptitude;
  • improve critical listening skills; and
  • adapt persuasive approaches to changing contexts.