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What Public Speaking Has to Offer You

W elcome to public speaking! And welcome to the many benefits this course

can offer you. As much as anything else, the ability you cultivate here to

communicate in public settings will distinguish you as a competent and

well-educated person. What s more, learning to present yourself and your ideas effectively

can help prepare you for some of the more important moments in your life:

times when you need to speak to protect your family s interests, when your values are

threatened by the action or inaction of others, or when you need approval to undertake

some important project. Finally, the principles you learn in this class will make

you a more astute consumer of public messages. They will help you sort through the

barrage of information and misinformation that bombards us on a daily basis.

Beyond these vital considerations, the public speaking course offers practical,

personal growth and knowledge benefits that can have profound importance

throughout your life.

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 1 Public Speaking and You 5

Practical Benefits

The public speaking course offers three practical benefits of fundamental importance.

You will develop an array of basic skills. You will become a more successful

person. And you will become a better citizen.

You Will Develop an Array of Basic Skills. The chapter titles in this

book reflect this extensive range of skills:

I Learning how to control your communication anxiety in public settings.

I Learning how to present your best side in the impressions you make on others.

I Learning how to listen effectively and constructively.

I Learning how to read an audience and to adapt your messages accordingly.

I Learning how to develop ethical sensitivity for what speeches can do both for

and to listeners.

I Learning how to select subjects that listeners will find vital and fascinating.

I Learning how to conduct research that produces responsible knowledge.

I Learning how to design, structure, and outline messages that accomplish the

goals of communication.

I Learning how to support your points with well-selected data, testimony,

examples, and stories.

I Learning how to use presentation aids that make your speeches clear and


I Learning how to manage language so that your words work for rather than

against your message.

I Learning how to express your ideas before audiences with power, confidence,

and conviction.

I Learning the special skills of informative, persuasive, and ceremonial speaking.

Will you become an expert in all thirteen of these fundamental skills over the course

of a semester? Probably not. But if you take this course seriously and invest your

time and energy in it, you should advance in your knowledge of many of them,

perhaps strikingly in some of them. And in the process, you will be growing as a person

as well as developing abilities that will serve you throughout your life.

You Will Become a More Successful Person. Developing the kinds

of basic skills we have just described will help you succeed both in school and in

your later professional life. Each year, the National Association of Colleges and

Employers (NACE) surveys hundreds of corporate recruiting specialists. According

to the organization,

Employers responding to NACE s Job Outlook 2007 survey named communication

skills and honesty/integrity as a job seeker s most important skills and

qualities. Communication skills have topped the list for eight years. NACE

advises: Learn to speak clearly, confidently, and concisely. 1

Ask students to describe situations

in which they might exercise

public speaking skills. Have

them set at least three selfimprovement

goals that might

help them function more effectively

in these situations.

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

6 Part One The Foundations of Public Speaking

You Will Become a Better Citizen. As social creatures, all of us feel compelled

to speak out in defense of our vital interests and core values from time to

time. Developing your public speaking skills will equip you to more effectively and

more ethically do just that. For instance, you might find yourself wanting to speak at

a school board meeting about a proposal to remove controversial books such as

The Catcher in the Rye, the Harry Potter series, or The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn

from your local school, or you may wish to speak for or against attempts to rezone

your neighborhood at a city council meeting. On campus, you might find yourself

speaking for or against attempts to alter your college s affirmative action policy, the

firing of a popular but unorthodox professor, or allowing religious groups to stage

protests and distribute literature on school grounds. In your class, you might speak

for or against stronger immigration laws, the policy of preemptive warfare as it

relates to the war on terror, allowing gay people to marry or serve openly in the

military, and even whether notorious hate groups such as the Ku Klux Klan should

be allowed to stage public rallies.

As you take part in such controversies, both speaking and listening, you will be

enacting the role envisioned for you as a citizen by those who framed the

Constitution of the United States:

Congress shall make no law...abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press;

or the right of people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government

for a redress of grievances. (First Amendment to the Bill of Rights)

The political system of the United States is built on faith in open and robust

public communication. If we citizens are the repositories of political power,

then our understanding must be nourished constantly by a full and free flow of

information and exchange of opinions so that we can make good and wise decisions

on such matters as who should lead us and which public policies we

should endorse.

ESL: Ask ESL students how they

would define success for themselves

in this course. Discuss how

their goals might differ from

those of native speakers in

the class.

Discuss what personal and social

benefits may be lost in societies

that do not encourage the free

and open exchange of ideas.

Have ESL students discuss this

topic in relation to their own


The skills you learn in your public speaking class can help you in many

ways. Learning to present yourself well can be an asset in job interviews.

Paul Baruda, who serves as an employment

expert for the jobs site Monster.com,

agrees that articulating thoughts clearly and

concisely will make a difference in both a job

interview and subsequent job performance.

The point is, you can be the best

physicist in the world, but if you

can t tell people what you do or

communicate it to your co-workers,

what good is all of that knowledge?

I can t think of an occupation, short

of living in a cave, where being able

to say what you think cogently at

some point in your life isn t going to

be important.2

So unless you plan to live in a cave, what you

learn in this course can be absolutely vital to

your success in life.

Public Speaking, Eighth Edition, by Michael Osborn, Suzanne Osborn and Randall Osborn. Published by Allyn & Bacon.

Copyright 2007 by Pearson Education, Inc.

Chapter 1 Public Speaking and You 7

Public speaking classes therefore become laboratories for the democratic

process.3 Crafting, presenting, and listening to speeches even classroom

speeches is a valuable way to develop your citizenship skills. Preparation for your

role as citizen is a benefit that serves not just you but the society in which you live.

Personal Growth Benefits

Some benefits of this course are invisible but nevertheless can be vital to the quality

of your life. Such benefits include learning more about yourself, becoming

acquainted with the intellectual tradition of public speaking, and expanding your

cultural horizons.

Learning More about Yourself. In a very real sense, we are the sum of our

communication experiences with other people. As you put together speeches on topics

that you care about, you will explore your own interests and values, expand your base

of knowledge, and develop your skills of creative expression. In short, you will develop

your own voice as a unique individual.

Speaker s Notes 1.1

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