The Final Exam
I've decided to give my Public Speaking class a two-part final: a take-home, written portion, and a practical portion - a short speech to be delivered in class.
The practical portion, which I've already assigned them and I hope to God/dess they're actually working on right now, will be a five minute speech about something that they'll likely encounter over the course of their career. A culinary student might make a presenation aimed at convincing a company to cater their holiday party with the student's restaurant; a business student might talk about the benefits of downsizing the production in a factory. I'm very interested to see not only what they choose to speak about, but also how they choose to deliver the speech itself. I'm hoping that at least ONE of them uses visual aids.
I've asked some trusted friends and colleagues to act as a panel for the practical exam. I feel that the students have gotten comfortable speaking in front of their peers and want to shake them up a little bit by giving them some new faces to talk to. The point of the class, after all, was to teach them to speak effectively in public and/or business situations, and I can 100% guarantee that most of those occasions will include someone with whom the students are not on a first-name basis. I plan on giving my friends rubrics to mark as they watch the speeches, and will take their impressions of the students' work into consideration as I determine grades. I've hinted that I won't be the only one grading the students' practical exams, though I'm not sure many of them have been listening closely enough to have picked up on that. It will be interesting to see their faces when they come to class on Monday.
Here, for your enjoyment, is the written portion of their final. I limited it to five questions in the hope that they would be able to really nail the answers. Some of them need to knock my socks off to pass this class, and I want to give them every opportunity to do just that. I'll give the exam to them tomorrow, so they have the entire week to work on it. Wish them luck - some of 'em need it!
Final Exam, Written Portion
Answer each question completely and on a separate sheet of paper. Your responses must be typed and grammatically clean and are due by 1:00 p.m. on Monday, December 11th. Late work will not be accepted and will result in a zero grade.
1. The issue of insulting and abusive speech - especially slurs directed against people on the basis of race, religion, gender, or sexual orientation - is extremely controversial. Do you believe society should punish such speech with criminal penalties? To what degree are colleges and universities justified in trying to discipline students who engage in such speech? Do you feel it is proper to place any boundaries on free expression in order to prohibit insulting and abusive speech? Why or why not?
2. Advertising is a form of public speaking. Choose an advertisement - either from the radio, television, or in print - and analyze it. Which demographics are the advertisers appealing to? What methods do they use to attract certain consumers? Do these tactics alienate other potential customers? In what ways do you feel the advertisement is effective? Please include a copy of a print ad., the transcript or a radio ad., or the transcript and description of a television ad.
3. Why must informative speakers be careful not to overestimate what the audience knows about the topic? What can a speaker do to make sure that his or her ideas don’t pass over the heads of the listeners?
4. What is the difference between an informative speech and a persuasive speech? Why is speaking to persuade more challenging than speaking to inform?
5. Divide a sheet of paper into two columns. Label one column “characteristics of an effective public speaker” and the other “characteristics of an ineffective public speaker.” List and briefly explain what you believe five characteristics of each to be. Oh the basis of that list, candidly evaluate your own strengths and weaknesses as a speaker. Identify where you’ve improved as a result of this course, and where you still feel you need practice.