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(Alternate title: GET1008 – An Essay Read Aloud Does Not A Speech Make)
Not everyone is a born speaker, and many do experience stage fright or nervousness when speaking in front of a large group of people. Some try to improve themselves, and seek out modules that may help them overcome their fear of public speaking. This module is fairly popular among those that have this objective, so it can be somewhat difficult to get unless one has ample reserves of bidding points.
What I expected
Given that what I have heard about this module is mostly about public speaking, I didn’t expect much for the ‘critical reasoning’ portion. Aside from learning how to draft a speech and deliver one, I didn’t expect to learn anything else.
What I got
As expected, the main focus of the module was on public speaking, with critical reasoning being employed for the purpose of improving one’s effectiveness in public speaking. One is expected to draft up a speech outline which is graded, and deliver the speech based on the ideas within their speech outline without deviating too much. Visual aids in the form of slides or physical objects are also expected later on as the course progresses and one becomes more familiar with how they prefer to present their speech.
Some coursemates felt that it was unnecessary to draft a speech outline that would be graded, and likened the exercise to ‘reading an essay out loud.’ Rarely does one directly refer to the speech outline when they are speaking though, for it is often wordy/verbose and lacks the brevity required for one’s mind to latch on and expound upon an idea. Rather, the speech outline should be viewed as a way for the tutor to check, prior to one’s speech, that the topic chosen is appropriate and can be developed upon. One can then make their own speaking prompts in cue cards based on key words used within the speech outline.
If memory serves me right, not all lectures were webcasted, so do be prepared to attend them or download the slides after the lecture is over.
[Webcasted?] Partial, possibly not.
[Course Materials?] Textbook (optional but recommended), minor PDF readings, slides.
Assessment & Workload
One is assessed as follows:
- 4 speeches (out of 6 in total that one will make, speeches are listed in chronological order, bolded titles are graded)
- Introductory Speech
- Commemorative Speech
- Informative Speech
- Persuasive Speech (may swap places with #5)
- Responder Critique to a coursemate’s Persuasive Speech (may swap places with #4)
- Impromptu Speech
- A group project where an essay is written to critique a televised speech, with the word limit being between 1000 and 1200 words.
- MCQ quiz as finals
The introductory speech is a good way for one to get used to writing their PO (Preparation Outline, aka the speech outline referenced above) before the graded speeches come. And as one continues, various speech types help to give one a basic competency in delivering different types of speeches as well as giving a prepared response (see speech #5) to another person’s speech.
The group project itself is not too difficult if everyone pulls their weight. Perhaps the most difficult part will be finding and deciding which speech to critique.
Finally, the MCQ quiz can be tricky at times, and relies not only upon content delivered within lectures, but also during guest lectures and parts of the textbook that few people bother to look up. Guest lectures are often skipped, while few read the textbook before going for the lecture. Indeed, the normal lecture attendance itself declines over time. If not for one’s attendance during the guest lectures being graded as well, one would probably have seen a smaller turnout.
Which is a pity, for some of the guest lectures are quite riveting, and can be of help for those studying body language or tackling speech nervousness. Still, given that the questions pertaining to the guest lecture do not constitute a major portion of the MCQ quiz, perhaps one could rely on notes from friends who attended said lecture.
Interestingly, I do not recall tutorial participation being part of the assessment methods, for tutorials are when one delivers their speech. Depending on the tutor, a speech may involve no questions being posed to the speaker while they are delivering their speech (there is a minimum time that one has to be speaking for, while a maximum time that one should not exceed), or it may include a Q&A section at the end of each speech.
With regards to the workload, one can expect to draft and deliver a speech every two weeks. Little preparatory reading is required for the lectures, so most would find the module to be easily managed if they have an idea of what they want to next speak about.
I had done somewhat well for my first three graded speeches, and thought that it would be sufficient to get an A-.
Unfortunately, I performed poorly for my last graded speech (which was the responder critique). I have no idea how the group project or MCQ quiz went, but I ended up with a B+.
Conclusion & Tips
Over the course of the module, it would be safe to say that most (if not all) who took the course within my tutorial improved in their ability to speak publicly. Although some were really shy or nervous at the beginning, they later grew more accustomed to hearing their own voice and relying less on what they had written in their PO and more of how they wanted the speech to flow. Those that put in more effort into something they weren’t too good in naturally improved more than those that did the bare minimum, which led to some remarkable moments in their final speeches. But overall, the module does force one think in a systematic manner and draft a proper speaking outline as well as face their fears of public speaking. All this, while having a light workload.
- Practice, practice, practice. It does wonders for your confidence in delivering a speech, and only takes 10 minutes to go through a five minute speech twice the night (or couple of nights) before. It also prevents you from looking like the person who is talking about something they have read for the first time. Once one starts panicking, it all goes downhill. Add in the fact that one is working within time constraints for their speech, and it becomes very easy to screw up one’s speech in either clarity or timing if the first time they are delivering the speech is on the day they are being graded itself.
- Learn to use visual aids early. They are not required for the commemorative speech, but are required for the informative and persuasive speeches. Incorporating them into your speech and getting used to talking while clicking the next slide gives you a great advantage when you lose your train of thought (refer to slide – oh, that’s what I was talking about) or you want to emphasize a point with statistics (using easily understood diagrams).
- One should be able to do decently well for the MCQ quiz by going through the practice quiz given and finding the answers within the textbook. There is not much course material after all, so focus more on the speech delivery and group project as well as other modules if one is short on time.