About this course

In the professional realm, most speeches and presentations we give are informative in scope. A scientist needs to explain her recent research findings. A financial officer needs to report on quarterly earnings to his company’s board. A technology professional needs to educate a consumer about a new product. Any time you need to convey ideas or demonstrate a process, you’re dealing with informative speaking.

Informative speaking is a fun puzzle. You need to think from the perspective of your audience to identify what they need to hear in order to understand the key ideas. How much does the audience already know? What are the most important elements to convey? How should one convey these ideas with appropriate breadth and depth given the time constraints of the speech? This demands a strategic approach to speech design that we’ll undertake in this class.

By the end of the course, you should be able to explain complex ideas vividly and accessibly, design clear and compelling presentation slides, convey your passion for a topic while maintaining your professional credibility, and speak dynamically from notes and/or a manuscript. Learners will record speeches, providing and receiving peer feedback.


Week 1: Targeting your presentation
This week, we’ll focus on essential strategies for designing informative speeches. The key issue is: what does the audience need? This process of identifying constraints and opportunities will allow you to zero in on a set of achievable goals, not trying to do too much nor too little. By the end of the week, you will have some tactics for thinking strategically about your goals in any speech. If you want some feedback, you’ll be able to upload an introductory speech for peer review.

Week 2: Designing informative speeches
In this module, we’ll move an informative speech from idea through to completed outline. Arrangement is always important. It’s doubly important in informative speaking. We have to be clear and that starts with good speech design. By the end of the week, you should have a storehouse of arrangement strategies to organize almost any informative speech. If you want some feedback, you’ll be able to upload an informative speech outline for peer review and engage in some speech analysis.

Week 3: Clarity through support and slides
This week is all about helping the audience see what we’re talking about. We’ll begin by talking about how to explain details in a vibrant way, working in tandem with how an audience will hear this information. This ability to explain details and evidence well is essential to scientific speaking, business presentations, and any situation when you need to walk an audience through a new set of ideas. Then we turn to slides! They can make or break a speech. We’ll talk about how to design slides so that they support you as a speaker (not replace you). By the end of the week, you should have skills and experience explaining ideas richly and designing and using clear presentation slides. If you want some feedback, you’ll be able to upload a draft slide deck for peer review.

Week 4: Delivering informative speeches
Now for some delivery work. We start with the concept of ethos. It is that performance of credibility that all great informative speakers have. We’ll dive deep into how you can refine your ethos as a speaker. We’ll finish this course by focusing on the unique delivery demands of informative speaking: using notes, mics, and podiums effectively. Interacting with the audience well. By the end of the week, you’ll have some strategies for speaking more smoothly and with greater credibility. If you want some feedback, you’ll be able to upload a practice informative speech for peer review.

Week 5: Review and assessment
Thank you for time in this course! I hope that the material has proven helpful to you. We concluded our discussion of the speech last week. This week, I would like to spend a bit of time reflecting on the course and talking about other exercises and activities that you can use to continue improving your public speaking abilities. We will end this week with your final informative speech.


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