The Information Speech
The assignment is to deliver an informational speech no shorter than two minutes and no longer than three minutes. For this assignment, you are required to use notes but not permitted to use visual aids or props. At the beginning of the first day of the speech round, I will collect an outline and a note card from each student. See this page for instructions regarding your outline. Your note card must be a white index card, four inches by six inches, and it must have your name tag name on it. Any other color or size will be unacceptable, you must use an index card (not a piece of paper cut to size), you must have one and only one card, and your name tag name must appear on the card. See this page for further recommendations regarding your note card. If you don't have an outline and one 4" x 6" white index card with your name on it at the beginning of the first day of the speech round, you will not be permitted to do the speech, your grade for the speech will be zero, and there will be no opportunity to make it up.
In order for language to have information value, it must meet all three of the following criteria: it must be TRUE, it must be NEW to the audience, and it must be either interesting enough or relevant enough (or, preferably, both) to be GLUE. We'll talk about these criteria in more detail in class.
To avoid plagiarism, you should be careful to cite the sources of your facts. The ins and outs of speech citation are explained here. Your speech should include a minimum of two citations of different types (book, newspaper, magazine, website, pamphlet/brochure, or interview you conducted yourself), but you may well need to use more than two. If there are fewer than two correct citations from two different types of source in your speech, the speech's quality grade will be lower than an A and you will lose the protection of the "70% cushion." In order to earn an A on this speech, one requirement (not the only one!) is that you must have at least two legitimate oral citations in your speech.
The speech is worth a possible total of 30 points. Your grade will be based on the following three criteria:
a. Organization (10 points): Is your outline correctly prepared? Does the speech you deliver follow your outline? Does your introduction draw audience attention, provide an orientation to the topic, and/or present a thesis? Is your thesis clear and memorable? Has your topic been effectively narrowed? Do you include transitions (e.g. forecasts, restatements) which help your listeners follow and remember key points? Does your presentation follow a logical pattern? Does your conclusion summarize, let listeners know where to get more information, and/or provide a clincher?
b. Content (10 points): How much information value is contained in the body of your speech? Are you meeting the criteria of "TRUE/NEW/GLUE"? Do you include sufficient effective evidence (e.g., examples and statistics) to support and/or explain your ideas? Does your evidence reflect an understanding of your audience? Is your evidence presented in appropriate language (diction, usage, grammar)? Do you include a minimum of two citations from two of the six acceptable types (book, newspaper article, magazine article, pamphlet or brochure, website, interview you conducted yourself)? Do your sources provide recognizable authority? Are your sources correctly identified with oral citations during the speech? (Reminder: If you don't meet the citation requirement, you lose the "70% cushion" from your quality grade, and your quality grade can not be an A. Make sure you get the citations right!)
c. Presentation (10 points): Here, I'll be looking at such items as your rate, pitch, intensity and animation, your articulation and pronunciation. Is your volume appropriate? Are you speaking slowly and distinctly enough to be understood? Are there vocal disfluencies in your speech? Are you dressed for public speaking success? Where is your eye contact? Do your attitude, posture and movement, and use of gestures make it easier or harder for your audience to focus on the content of your presentation? Are you following the Do's and Don'ts presented in class and using the feedback given to you after your impromptu speech.
You will receive one grade referred to as your "quality" grade which takes into account all three of the criteria discussed above. If your speech meets the time requirements for the assignment, this grade will also be your "official" grade, which is the grade which will be recorded in my grade book. If your speech is shorter than the minimum required time, your "quality" grade will be prorated against the percentage of the minimum time requirement you used. (In other words, if you speak for one minute, which is exactly half of the required minimum of two minutes, you will receive exactly half of your "quality" grade, and so on.) If you are still speaking at the end of three minutes, I will stop you and subtract 3 points (10% of the total value of the assignment) from your "quality" grade. For a more detailed explanation of the impact timing can have on your grade, see the Grading of Speeches handout.
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