Public Speaking

Instructor:Varvara Danilina
Updated:4 August, 2014

Course Summary

The Public Speaking course teaches students how to analyze their audience and set an aim, how to formulate their key idea and develop it, how to use various rhetorical devices and nonverbal communication to promote products, technologies, and ideas. Students will analyze John Kennedy’s inaugural address as well as Bill Gates and Steve Jobs’ speeches in search for effective techniques. Each student will have three opportunities to practice public speaking skills: a short talk on speech delivery, a sales presentation, and a research presentation. All your talks will be video recorded and discussed in class.

Course Format

Hours of lecture Hours of discussion Hours of independent study Total numbers of hours
5 15 52 72

Please note that the time spent on independent study exceeds hours of lecture and discussion.

Course Content

The course will cover the following topics:

  1. Principles of public communication (2 hours)
    • speech situation
    • target audience
    • rhetorical analysis: adapting to the audience
  2. The speech purpose and the key idea (3 hours)
    • types of purposes
    • argumentation techniques
    • rhetorical analysis: setting the purpose and developing the key idea
  3. Arrangement and style (3 hours)
    • organizational patterns
    • stylistic devices
    • rhetorical analysis: using effective devices to influence the audience
  4. Speech delivery. Nonverbal communication (3 hours)
    • public speaking practice: talks on speech delivery
    • analysis and discussion of students’ talks
  5. Visual aids (1 hour)
    • types of visual aids
    • use and abuse of PowerPoint slides
    • chalk-and-talk method
  6. Presenting a product or technology (4 hours)
    • principles and peculiarities of a sales presentation
    • public speaking practice: product/ technology presentations
    • analysis and discussion of students’ talks
  7. Presenting research findings (3 hours)
    • public speaking practice: research presentations
    • analysis and discussion of students’ talks
  8. Colloquium (1 hour)

Reading List

Required reading: 1. Atkinson, M. (2005). Lend Me your Ears: All you need to know about making speeches and presentations. Oxford University Press. 2. Duarte, N. (2012). HBR Guide to Persuasive Presentations. Harvard Business Review Press.

Recommended reading:

  1. Detz, J. (2014). How to Write and Give a Speech: A Practical Guide for Anyone Who Has to Make Every Word Count). 3rd edition. St. Martin's Griffin.
  2. Dowis, R. (1999). The Lost Art of the Great Speech: How to Write One - How to Deliver It. Amacom (American Management Association).
  3. Humes, J. (2002). Speak Like Churchill, Stand Like Lincoln: 21 Powerful Secrets of History’s Greatest Speakers. Prima Publishing.
  4. Lazarev, D. (2010). Prodajushchaya prezentatsia. Moscow: Alpina Publishers. (in Russian).
  5. Pease, A. (2014). Body Language: How to read others’ thoughts by their gestures. Manjul Publishing House.
  6. Svyazi s obshchestvennost’u. Sostavlenie dokumentov: Teoriya i praktika. (2012). Ed. by L. Minaeva. 2nd edition. Moscow: Aspect Press (in Russian).

Online resources:

  1. Bill Gates’ speech at Harvard University (June 7, 2007)
  2. Steve Jobs’ speech at Stanford University (June 12, 2005)
  3. John Kennedy’s inaugural address (January 20, 1961)
  4. Steve Jobs’ iPad presentation (January 27, 2010)
  5. Richard Dawkins’ lecture at the University of Pennsylvania (March 12, 2013)

Homework Assignments

Homework will be assigned weekly. You will be expected to study the books from the reading list and to analyze various public speeches. You will also have to prepare three talks: a 3-minute talk on speech delivery, a 7-minute product/ technology presentation and a 7-minute research presentation.


It is a pass/fail course. To get a pass, you should complete all the assignments.