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FAQs: Communication

FAQs About Public Speaking

Q: Why do I need to learn how to speak publicly? What's the point in taking this class?
A: Have you ever seen a help wanted ad asking for applicants with "Excellent written and oral communication skills"? Well, public speaking is one of those excellent oral communication skills. In addition, a public speaking class will help you develop greater confidence for a variety of communication activities. Professional speaker Lenny Laskowski has compiled a wonderful list of Eight Ways Public Speaking Improves Every Area of Your Life.

Q: How many speeches will I be required to give?
A: Our classes require a minimum of five graded speaking assignments. The specific assignments will vary a little, depending upon the instructor. You can expect that some of the assignments will require research.

Q: What kinds of speeches will I be expected to make?
A: Specific speech assignments are determined by individual instructors, so the assignments will vary. In every class you can expect to give at least one informative and one persuasive speech that are research projects.

Q: Will I have to dress up to give my speeches?
A: Your instructor may expect you to come to class dressed appropriately for the type of speech you are presenting. Your instructor will let you know if there are any special expectations for attire before each speech presentation.

Q: How are speeches graded?
A: Speeches are graded on rubrics (evaluation forms) that suit the specific speech assignments. Grading includes meeting the assignment criteria, delivery aspects of speaking, and content aspects of the speech. Your particular instructor will provide you with much more detail on each speech assignment in class.

Q: How do I prepare a speech?
A: Here is a wonderful website that will give you an overview of the speech preparation process: http://www.hawaii.edu/mauispeech/html/preparing_speeches.html. Keep in mind that your textbook and instructor will also provide information to assist you in preparing your speeches.

Q: Writing is not one of my strong points--will I have to write my own speeches?
A: Speaking skills are similar to writing skills, but they are different, as well. Even people who are not terrific writers can learn to become terrific speakers. And yes, you will be "writing" your own speeches. In fact, you can expect that your writing skills will improve as a result of taking Public Speaking!  

Q: Are topics assigned?
A. In general, you will be selecting your own topics that suit the specific speech assignments. In some cases your instructor may have a list of topics for you to select from.

Q: Who will I give my speeches to? How many people will be in the audience?
A: Your audience will be your classmates and your instructor, so there will be approximately 20 people in your audience. This is true of all courses, including the hybrid SPE115 classes.

Q: Is attendance and participation really important for speech classes?
A: Yes! Public speaking is a performance art, and you must be present to "perform." You'll find that speaking requires experiential learning--you are a speaker, a listener, and often a small group member. You will contribute to your classmates' learning through your comments, and you will also find you learn a lot from hearing each other's speeches. Most (if not all) instructors at ACC have an attendance component for grading in their syllabi.

Q: Are there any competitive speaking opportunities at the college?
A: Every spring ACC has an intracollegiate speech competition for students in all speech classes for the year. There are significant prizes (including cash) for the top competitors. The students who wins ACC's competition will then compete against the winning speakers from other Metro Denver-area community colleges.

Q: Do you always have to give speeches in a speech class?
A: This depends on which class you take. If you take SPE115 Public Speaking, then you will definitely be presenting speeches. If you enroll in interpersonal, intercultural, or group communication you may have to present to the class although the presentations may not be as formal as a public speaking course.

Q: What if I am really nervous about giving speeches and working with other people?
A: Nervousness about public speaking (sometimes called "communication apprehension") is very normal! Our instructors are experts and have years of experience in helping students cope and overcome communication anxieties. They work hard to make the classroom setting a challenging but comfortable environment in which to study communication.

Q: My class is an online class or a hybrid. Do I need a textbook?
A: Yes. A textbook is required for all sections of SPE115 Public Speaking and SPE125 Interpersonal Communication ACC. There is also a textbook required for SPE220 Intercultural Communication. (There is no textbook required for SPE218 Group Communication.)

Q: How does an online Public Speaking class work?
A: In addition to traditional classroom courses, ACC offers Public Speaking in a Hybrid format, which means partly online and partly in the classroom. The Hybrid classes meet five or six times a semester for the purpose of presenting speeches. The remaining course work (lectures, discussions, assignment, quizzes, exams, etc.) are all accomplished online using Desire2Learn (D2L) course management system used at all Colorado community colleges. Hybrid classes are a little more challenging as students need to be self-motivated and disciplined about meeting course deadlines. If you are a busy person, you may find this format suits you well!

Q: What do previous students think about studying communication?
A. "I recently had a conversation with a student about to graduate this term about why communication classes (interpersonal communication and speech) aren't required for all degree plans/certificates. She talked about the importance of presenting yourself "out in the real world" to clients, peers, and reps, in a professional and confident manner. This doesn't include giving formal presentations, because not all careers deal with this element, but learning how to be a better listener, watching for nonverbal cues to redirect conversations, handling conflict, controlling emotions, etc. I've had this similar conversation for years with many students and many instructors, and they all believe that communication classes should be required to not only enhance students' skills but have them be marketable to future employers because they can communicate more effectively." Diana Hornick, ACC Speech Instructor

FAQs About Interpersonal Communication

Q: What is Interpersonal Communication? Why do I need to study it?
A: Interpersonal Communication focuses on how people create and share meaning within a variety of relationships. Friendships, romantic relationships, workplace relationships and family relationships are all studied in this course. Since relationships are such an important part of our lives and our work, interpersonal communication is required for many degree programs.

Q. What is studied in Interpersonal Communication?
A. The course goals or outcomes below will give you a good idea of what topics are studied in Interpersonal Communication:

  • Distinguish the interpersonal communication context from other communication contexts
  • Understand self-concept and its relationship to interpersonal communication
  • Demonstrate an awareness of the effect of perception on interpersonal communication
  • Evaluate and apply appropriate emotional expression in interpersonal interaction
  • Demonstrate an understanding of the impact of language on relationships
  • Develop and understanding of the impact of nonverbal communication on relationships
  • Model effective listening and response strategies
  • Recognize and describe appropriate strategies for self-disclosure
  • Analyze conflict situations and propose approaches for conflict management and resolution
  • Illustrate understanding of gender and cultural influences on interpersonal communication

Q: Will COM125 Interpersonal Communication transfer as a speech credit?
A: To get the best possible answer to this question, check with the advisors at the institution you want to transfer to. In most cases, this class would transfer as an elective.