Speaking to inform: Discussing complex ideas with clear explanations and dynamic slides


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.

What you will learn

Week 1: Targeting your presentation

Welcome. This is a big week. Here’s what we’ll be doing. We’ll start with an overview of the course. This course is about developing interesting and informative speeches. The way we’ll work on these skills is through the informative speech assignment. Next, we’ll focus on the key challenge in informative speaking. remaining audience-oriented. This requires us to assess what the audience knows and how our speech can be of the most value. We need to design our goals for the speech. Too often, speakers simply just dump their information on the audience. We need to be precise about what we want our speech to accomplish to protect against being boring. After we think about audience and our goals, we can start planning out our speech. A good outline is the foundation for a good talk. We want to adhere to the principles of simplicity, balance, and order. In this module, we’ll work through a case study of a TED talk. Once we have a sense for informative speaking, you’ll perform a short introductory speech. It’s a fun and easy speech that allows you to get to know some of your classmates.

Week 2: Designing informative speeches

Last week, we worked on developing the basic outline for of our speech. This week, we’ll take that structure and build a speech around it. We’ll begin with discussing ideas clearly. This is the big challenge in informative speaking. With the body of the speech taken care of, we can now turn our attention to writing a full draft. This means thinking about the iterative process of good speech preparation. We also look at how to open and close the speech. Each speech will be arranged differently, but there are some broad genres. We’ll talk about the various goals and arrangement models that might work for different types of informative speaking. Having discussed invention and arrangement, we’ll watch and evaluate a sample speech. You’ll watch a speech, write up some feedback, and read how others analyzed the speech.

Week 3: Clarity through support and slides

This week is all about 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.

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. Having discussed invention and arrangement, we’ll watch and evaluate a sample speech. You’ll watch a speech, write up some feedback, and read how others analyzed the speech.

What’s included

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