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1: The Basics of Public Speaking

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    Learning Objectives

    After reading this chapter, the student will be able to:

    • Define public speaking, channel, feedback, noise, encode, decode, symbol, denotative, and connotative;
    • Explain what distinguishes public speaking from other modes of communication;
    • List the elements of the communication process;
    • Explain the origins of anxiety in public speaking;
    • Apply some strategies for dealing with personal anxiety about public speaking;
    • Discuss why public speaking is part of the curriculum at this college and important in personal and professional life.

    • 1.1: What is Public Speaking?
      What do we mean by “public speaking?” The most obvious answer is “talking in front of a group of people.” For the purposes of this class and this book, public speaking is more formal than that. Public speaking is an organized, face-to-face, prepared, intentional (purposeful) attempt to inform, entertain, or persuade a group of people (usually five or more) through words, physical delivery, and (at times) visual or audio aids. In almost all cases, the speaker is the focus of attention for a speci
    • 1.2: Anxiety and Public Speaking
      Why are so many people afraid of public speaking? This is a complex question, and the answer is tied to many personal and psychological factors such as self-efficacy, self-confidence, past experience, training, culture, and context.
    • 1.3: Understanding the Process of Public Speaking
      With all these elements working together, the act of communication can be very complex. The famous German philosopher Johann Goethe said that if we understood how complex communication really is, we probably would not attempt it! Perhaps here we can demystify some of it. Communication is a process, not a singular event. Later we will look at models of communication, which can be helpful for understanding communication but are basically snapshots.
    • 1.4: The Value of Public Speaking in Your Life
      The USAToday College website states, a public speaking course can help you be a better, more informed and critical listener; it can “encourage you to voice your ideas and take advantage of the influence you have;” and it gives you an opportunity to face a major fear you might have in a controlled environment. Finally, the course can attune you to the power of public speaking to change the world. Presentations that lead to changes in laws, policies, leadership, and culture happen every day.
    • 1.5: Getting Started in Public Speaking
      To finish this first chapter, let’s close with some foundational principles about public speaking, which apply no matter the context, audience, topic, or purpose.

    1: The Basics of Public Speaking is shared under a CC BY-NC-SA license and was authored, remixed, and/or curated by Kris Barton & Barbara G. Tucker.

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