Christopher Swift, Professional Track Faculty, Department of Communication

Why are so many of us afraid to speak in public? Why don’t we trust people who are too good at it? Why don’t we listen to people who are too bad at it? Why do we rely on stereotypes and clichés to describe ourselves and others when we are all different?  How can we overcome our fears about speaking? How can we speak well and inspire trust? How can we express our individuality in a way that strangers can understand and appreciate?

Rhetoric is one of the oldest subjects in the history of formal education, and it always has involved a strong practical element. In this course, we will study verbal artists, philosophers, and other public intellectuals to learn about their answers to these questions. We will also devote a large portion of our time to the practice public speaking in order to develop answers of our own. This will be a laboratory course as much as a seminar, and we will be experimenting with our own abilities to speak to others and to listen to them.

This course is designed to meet the general education requirement in oral communication. Seminar assignments will include: at least three formal presentations (two individual, one group), regular informal presentations, short papers, and in-class activities.

On completion of an Oral Communication course, students will be able to:

  • Demonstrate effectiveness in using verbal and nonverbal language appropriate to the goal and the context of the communication.
  • Demonstrate an ability to listen carefully.
  • Demonstrate an enhanced awareness of one’s own communication style and choices.
  • Demonstrate competency in planning, preparing, and presenting effective oral presentations.
  • Use effective presentation techniques including presentation graphics.
  • Demonstrate awareness of communication ethics in a global society.