Handbook for Public Speaking
This booklet is designed to help you prepare for your speaking assignments in Humanities. It contains background
material concerning public speaking, a description of the speaking situation, and some help for you when you put
your own speech together. Each of you will be expected to read and use this material when you do your assignment.
Naturally, there is much more to say about public speaking than we can cover here. That is why each student is
urged to consider signing up for —
Communication Studies 80.
Communication 80 is the Communications Lab course, where you learn more about various aspects of public
communication by completing three specially designed modules for one hour of credit. You can see your section
instructor for more details.
Even if you do not sign up for Communication Studies 80, you are invited to take advantage of the Lab, located in
Hugh Gillis Hall, room 231. (Hours will be posted by the room.) Here, you can receive advice from Communication
Studies majors on your speeches, or even have your speech video-taped for you to view. Feel free to take advantage
of this opportunity.
The speaking assignment is important because every student needs to have two things: first, an understanding
of different theories as to how communication works best (which will be covered in the lectures and readings); and
secondly, a working knowledge of how to apply these principles (which will be seen in your own speeches). With
both of these in place, it is hoped that you will be an effective communicator and also have a greater theoretical
understanding of human communication in public settings.
• The Assignment for Semester 1B:
This semester you will be asked to present a five minute “exegetical” speech. The exegetical speech
arises from the early church. It is the form used by
Augustine, and in Augustine’s time, there was a constant
level of concern that the presenter of a speech (whether a
bishop or church elder) do an adequate job explaining the
texts of the Bible to the audience. Since many in the
congregation had a limited knowledge of traditions from
the Hebrew Bible, and of how to apply the New Testament message to their everyday lives, the
speechmaker’s interpretation of what the biblical text “really meant” was very important to the average
Christian who wished to live a “biblical/ethical” lifestyle.
While this tradition quickly evolved into what we today call the “sermon,” you will not be asked to
“preach.” Instead, you are asked to “explain” a text — one that we are reading this semester — to your
This speech may bear a close relationship to the kind of papers you are writing, where you decide
upon a thesis and then communicate that thesis, backed with main points and supporting evidence, to your
audience. Therefore, this speech should include a thesis which you think helps
the text to the
audience. You may speak to how this reading can help us in our lives, or you may explain some particular