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Now that we are done with the basics of communication as it applies to public speaking, this week we are getting into all the fine details … structure, outlining, delivery, presentation skills, word choices, language, etc. that can separate an okay speech from a great speech.

We refine our public speaking abilities through a mixture of instruction, practice, and imitation. As such, critically examining other speeches provides you another venue for thinking about how to adapt to different rhetorical situations. When we get into the persuasive and advocacy rounds, you will be required (and graded on) evaluating each other’s speeches (on paper and/or in a verbal critique after the speech – the ability to articulate a point in just a few seconds can be vital to surviving in the current employment market). So now is a great time to start practicing those evaluation skills.

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For this assignment, we are going to start critically evaluating speeches. This will require 2 posts on your part (and watching at least 1 new TED talk).

  • #1 Your initial post (1.25pts): Since you’ve already watched the speech you posted, that one should be easy. Go back to the TEDtalk you posted in last week (if you missed last week’s homework, you will have to go back and read it to know what we did). In your post for this week, re-post the link to the TEDtalk you posted last week but this week, rather than summarize, you need to evaluate the speaker’s delivery/performance (evaluate the speech, not the message!). Remember to provide the title and a WORKING LINK to the talk you evaluate in your post. For evaluation criteria see below.
  • #2 Respond to one peer (0.75pts): Respond to one other person’s post, evaluating their posted TEDtalk (yes, you will need to watch their TEDtalk as well, you cannot evaluate the same speech that you responded to last week). Did you see things differently than they did in their evaluation? Do you agree or disagree with with their assessment of the speaker’s performance? Why or why not?


Criteria for evaluating speeches:

For this week, we are going to keep it really open-ended…. in your responses, discuss the following (350-500 words total)

What the speaker did well:

Most of these speeches have been practiced and refined over and over and over. What do you think the speaker did well? Did you learn anything by watching this speech (not about the topic, but about giving speeches)? Any tips or tricks that you may want to emulate in your own speeches?

What the speaker could still work on:

Every individual audience member will see/hear/interpret a speech in their own way. And, there is almost always room for improvement. If you were hired to give the speaker tips, is there anything you would tell him/her to do differently? Did you find anything distracting about the speech and/or delivery that you felt distracted from the message?

Things you may want to consider during your evaluations (which we will be covering in class all week). You can’t possibly talk about all of this in 350-500 words, these are just some suggestions for things you may want to look for, think about, and/or evaluate:


Gained attention & interest

Introduced topic clearly

Related topic directly to audience

Established credibility & goodwill

Previewed main points


Main points clear & fully supported

Organization well-planned

Language clear & audience-focused

Language vivid

Effective connectives


Prepared audience for ending

Reinforced central idea

Vivid ending (closure/finality)


Maintained strong eye contact

Effective posture, movement & gestures

Avoided distracting mannerisms

Articulated words clearly

Used pauses effectively

Effective vocal variation

Communicated enthusiasm for topic

Ended speech without rushing

Visual Aids

Prepared visual aids well

Smoothly integrated aids

Overall Evaluation

Topic challenging

Specific purpose well-chosen

Clear audience adaptation


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