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Public Speaking 101: In 90 Minutes Or Less

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1996 Annual Conference


Washington, District of Columbia

Publication Date

June 23, 1996

Start Date

June 23, 1996

End Date

June 26, 1996



Page Count


Page Numbers

1.367.1 - 1.367.4

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Pamela A. Hayward

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NOTE: The first page of text has been automatically extracted and included below in lieu of an abstract

Session 1161

Public Speaking 101: In 90 Minutes or Less

Pamela A. Hayward Lake Superior State University

The Challenge

Having adequate communication skills is becoming more important than ever in the technical workforce. Recently, employers of entry level engineers were asked to prioritize the need for further instruction. Over 60% of these employers identified communication skills as the primary curricular element needing increased emphasis. 1

When ranking the top 30 types of communication, by importance, to engineering practice; two of 2 the top 10 required skills relate to making oral presentations. However, despite this increasing need for engineers to demonstrate proficiency in oral presentations, public speaking instruction is not always required at the university level for these students. Although some students may have already taken a speech class prior to entering the university, additional training in public speaking is necessary because speechmaking in college and the real world differs markedly from what most students learn in high school.3

Students, unskilled in public speaking, find themselves in a difficult position when asked to make an oral presentation in an engineering course. Although the project that the student is presenting may be well- designed, pmr presentational skills can detract from his/her engineering expertise and hurt his/her credibility in the course. The student is placed in a no-win situation. His/her project grade hinges on his/her ability to make an effective oral presentation, however the student has been given no formal instruction in the necessary skills.

In an attempt to rectify this no-win situation for students in a senior-level electrical engineering course at a Midwestern university, a team of instructors in the speech communication department was approached to develop a public speaking workshop. The challenge for this workshop team was to condense what would normally be an entire semester’s worth of speech instruction into a 90-minute, evening workshop for the engineering students.

The Assessment

The key to any successful training program is an assessment of the situation prior to implementing a workshop. In order to get a better feel for the problem at hand, a member of the workshop team met with the course professor to find out what difficulties students had with their presentations in the past. The presentation requires the seniors to give a half-hour group presentation of the project that they have been working on all semester. During the presentation, students are expected to act as if they are a “design team” showing their project to senior members of “the firm. ” Each group presentation also requires the

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Hayward, P. A. (1996, June), Public Speaking 101: In 90 Minutes Or Less Paper presented at 1996 Annual Conference, Washington, District of Columbia.

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