COM-2211 - Online Effective Public Speaking - FAQ

FAQs About Distance Learning Effective Public Speaking Classes

(Hybrid Courses: bullet 26)

1. If this class is a Distance Learning class why do we have to meet five times?

Answer: This course is designed to allow a person to compete the course objectives entirely at a distance although it places the responsibility on the student for gathering eight adults for an audience, recording the speech, and submitting the recording. A person can do it that way but it might be easier to meet to deliver speeches and provide feedback to classmates.  This approach allows you to be audience members for one another and your instructor will be able to assist with capturing and uploading the video recording.

By offering face-to-face meeting opportunities classmates can more easily fulfill the speaking requirements without having to worry about finding audience members or recording equipment. It is your choice as the student to decide which approach best meets your needs. Be sure to communicate with you instructor if you have any questions or concerns.

2. What do I need to do to be successful in this course?

Answer: As with almost everything else in life, you will have the most success with this course if you are committed to work and to learning. As a general rule of thumb, you should plan on logging into the course at least every other day. You will probably find that logging in every day makes the course even easier to manage. Failure to log on once in a two week period is grounds for an administrative withdrawal.  When you login, make it a habit to:
a.Check your Angel Course Mail for any new messages.
b.Go to the Angel Home Page and check the "Announcements" topic for any new messages.
c.Review the new messages in other areas of the Discussion Forum.
d.Go to the Lessons tab and proceed with your next assignment.
e.Submit your assignments before the posted deadline.

3. The syllabus suggests the online quizzes are worth only 8 percent of my grade, does that mean that we can skip them?
Answer: Only you can know how you best study or learn new material. The quizzes are a great way to learn new material and test your understanding of the chapter material you've read. They are not exactly like the Exam although there may be some similarities. Students who take the quizzes multiple times tend to earn a full letter-grade higher on the exam than those students that spend little time using the quizzes. So while the choice is yours the benefits are pretty clear.

4. The quizzes seem to have different questions every time I take them. What's up with that?

Answer: The quizzes include only 10 questions pulled randomly from a pool of 15-25 questions. Each time you take a particular quiz you will see some new questions. By taking the quiz 3 or more times you increase the chance of seeing all the questions and gaining the most benefit. You also give yourself a chance to learn what you don't know.

You will notice the quiz feedback includes information about what you got wrong and where you can find the right answer. This makes the quizzes a great way to become familiar with the course content.

5. What do we have to submit when we give our speech?
Answer: Each of the five required speeches is a little different although all require submission through the drop box of a draft and final preparation outline as described in your textbook in chapter 9- "Organizing and Outlining your Speech." You may also need to submit some sort of visual aid or PowerPoint presentation through the drop box. If you are video recording your own speech you will need to submit the digital video recording either through the drop box or by sending it to your instructor at the address provided by your instructor.

6. What's the difference between a preparation outline, speaking outline and manuscript? Which should we use?

Answer: This course emphasizes "extemporaneous" speaking. This means that you should never read your speech from a manuscript or write it out word for word. Instead, create a preparation outline using full sentences to plan out your speech. Then, as you begin practicing, create a speaking outline. The speaking outline goes on your note cards and is generally short phrases that will help keep your thoughts organized.

You might take a look at the material in your text on extemporaneous speaking in the delivery chapter of our textbook.

7. What type of speaking notes can I use and what should I NOT use?
Answer: Brief speaker notes as described in your text on page 221 are what I recommend. I don't want you to use a "manuscript" Don't use off-camera notes such as having a speech written out word-for-word on a flip chart. I've seen people use a teleprompter set up thinking I wouldn't notice. To me this is cheating as it certainly is not an opportunity that students meeting face-to-face would have! The reality is this is not a technique that will serve you well when asked by your employer to make a presentation to the corporate Board of Directors. I really can tell when off-camera notes are used.

8. Do you have to use visual aids in the informative speeches?
Answer: A visual aids is not required in the first informative speech. However the first speech is a good time to "practice" with visual aids. The second informative speech and the persuasive speech both require the use of a visual aid. 

At a minimum this means one PowerPoint (or similar) slide incorporated appropriately into the speech.  Certainly more than one slide and more than one type of visual aid would be acceptable. 

9. What kinds of visual aids are acceptable?
Answer: You can use any type of presentational aids you wish in your speeches although at least one PowerPoint (or similar) slide is required. Remember the advice shared in your text regarding the use of electronic presentation graphics. They should be prepared and practiced in advance, explained clearly, used only while being discussed and should not become a crutch for the speaker. Visual aids should help audience members recall and understand information presented. The visual aid should never distract audience members from the speaker's message.  The visual aid you do choose must be visible to your audience members.  This will present a challenge for folks wishing to record their own speeches since some of us may have digital video cameras, few us us have projection equipment needed to make visual aids visible to the whole audience.  Think carefully about how you will accomplish this objective.

10. If I use PowerPoint as a presentational aid, what should I consider?
Answer: Students do PowerPoint in a couple of different ways. Most place their PowerPoint or similar file in the Angel drop box. Some will bring a USB "flash drive" on presentation day. Many do both as it is always wise to have a backup plan when relying on technology. allows students to save presenations online and access them from an internet connected computer.

This is not a PowerPoint course. PowerPoint should never be the message of a speech. Good speakers use technology and other aids to support their message not to be the message. I recommend students spend twice as much time practicing with their visual aid as they spend creating/gathering them. This means that students should never spend hours and hours creating a PowerPoint slide. Rather spend 20 minutes creating a basic slide that reinforces a basic message of your speech and then practice using that visual aid for 40 minutes.

11. I would like to use an audio track or video in my speech.  Can I do that?

Answer: Students should not attempt to incorporate video into a speech less than 10 minutes in length.  Sometimes there are situations where a short audio track can enhance a speech and the audience's understanding of that speech.  It is not acceptable however to use the audio segment in place of the speaker.  A short clip of no more than 20 seconds should be the maximum a speaker would use in a 5 - 7 minute speech.  Numerous problems are inherent with efforts to incorporate audio and visual aids into a speech.  Your text book addresses many of those issues in chapter thirteen.   Do not attempt to use audio or video in your speech without your instructor's prior knowledge and agreement.

12. Where can we go to record our speech if we decide not to join classmates at a campus location?
Answer:You can record your speech in a variety of locations although this may be less convenient than meeting classmates at a campus location. You might record your speech at work, or in a community room available at your local library or church. Panera Bread and some other companies have established community rooms for area organizations wishing to use common meeting space. You would need to coordinate the use of this space in advance and be sure to bring your own audience members and recording equipment. Some students have had success giving a speech to fellow classmates before or after other courses they are taking.  It is up to you the student to coordinate the technology, computer, room, and audience issues if you decide not to meet with your fellow COM-2211 students.

13 . What formats can speeches be recorded in?
Answer:Digital technology is preferred. Acceptable video formats include MOV (Apple/Mac) and WMV (Windows) formats.  Additional details are available on the Video Directions page. Many families have purchased a digital video camera in the last couple years.  Hopefully someone in your family owns one. Many of these record to a digital tape, a video DVD disc or a video card. It is also possible to connect a digital camera to a laptop or other computer through a "firewire" connection and record directly onto the computer's hard drive. Instructions for using Windows Movie Maker to digitally record your speech are available here.

VHS is no longer adequately supported. We are willing to experiment with other formats, but please check with your instructor and test your equipment prior to making your recording.  Make no assumptions.

14. I have to give a presentation at work or in the community, can I use it for credit?
Answer:Yes, credit for speaking in the community, a conference, etc. is acceptable. Remember though that your speech is graded against the criteria required for the speech class not based on the criteria of your audience or situation. If you decide to use a speaking event at work or in the community be sure your speaking event allows you to achieve all of the objectives requires for the speaking assignment.

15. If an assignment is due on Friday  or  Tuesday.  When is it actually due and why two assignment dates each week?

Answer: Due dates for assignments are identified in the "When things are Due" page in the "First Day: Everything That is Important" under the "Lessons" tab. The time for things to be completed is 11:30 p.m. This time was chosen as it allows students plenty of time into the evening hours to make submissions but still during the time that the Sinclair IT department staffs the Help Desk.  

To effectively learn and internalize infomation we must be reflecting on that information and responding to it regularly.  Requiring a mid-week and end of week reflection helps improve student comprehension and retention.

16. What do I do if I need IT help? What sorts of help can I expect from the Help Desk?

Answer: The IT Help Desk is available from 6:00 a.m. until 12:00 midnight seven days a week except for holidays or if the campus is closed for any other reason. The Help Desk can assist students with questions about accessing their Sinclair email accounts, using the online Angel course enhancements, accessing the resources of the library, and even answer some questions about software supported by the IT department. You can contact the IT Help Desk at 937 512-HELP. 

If you encounter problems while completing an online exam you are advised to contact the HELP desk and inform them of the problem.  If you do not you have no evidence of a problem and likely will not be allowed to complete the exam.

17. Should I use a podium?
Answer:You may use a podium but by the time you complete the course many of you should be able to speak without one. A podium creates a physical barrier between the speaker and audience. It limits the gestures and other body language audience members can read and creates a psychological distance between speaker and audience. A speaker should reduce the distance both physical and psychological between audience and speaker.

18. I sometimes have questions.  What should I do if don't understand something?

Answer: If you ever have a course related question, please feel free to post your question in the "Help" discussion forum area. It has been my experience that other students appreciate the opportunity to assist their fellow classmates directly. As your instructor,

I will monitor these questions, and will provide clarification in the event that the question is not answered. Posting in the Help Discussion Forums is not mandatory and will not be graded. If you don't have any problems, try to help other students by responding to their posts. 

Of course you can also ask me a question directly.  The easiest way is probably through the course email system.  You can also leave me a voice mail message at the office.  All my contact information is available at the top of the syllabus. 

19. I can't see what my classmates have posted to the Midweek discussion forum. How am I supposed to respond to their postings and create any kind of discussion?

Answer: You won't be able to read other students' responses until you post your original response to the prompt. When you first access this discussion topic you'll get a message "Sorry. You do not have access to read this discussion forum." Click the New Post link and post your response in the Message area. It will help if you copy the question you are responding to into the Subject line. Submit your response.

After making your own submission you will now be able to see your classmates' postings. To read a posting, click on the topic under Subject. The description of the posting will appear at the bottom. To reply to a posting click on Reply at the bottom.

Full attendance requires that you make at least one original post to the Midweek discussion forum and respond to any two of your classmates postings. You should also be making at least one contribution of substance to the reflection blog in each module.

20. Do you grade on quality of the recording? What taping elements should I consider?
Answer:This is NOT a broadcasting class, so you are NOT evaluated on the quality of the recording of your speech. HOWEVER, that there are elements of the recording that will certainly impact the grading. The Video Directions page provides information on creating your video recording.  Here are several guidelines:

  • I want to be able to see and hear a number of things. It is important that prior to speaking you "pan" (show) the audience members, hopefully rapt in interest to your speech.
  • I want to see your body language and your facial expression. Most of the time the camera should focus on a shot that captures the speaker from the waist up including any arm movement or hand gestures. That means that facial expression and gestures must be visible.  A poorly lit recording won't be adequate. Think carefully about how you will provide adequate lighting prior to recording the speech.  A common mistake is to place the speaker in front their projected PowerPoint slides.  If the slides have a white background the speaker will appear dark (perhaps only a silhouette).  If I can't see the speaker's facial expression and eye contact the video recording will not suffice.
  • I do not want to see the ceiling, floor or walls. I certainly don't want to see only the visual aids and not the speaker. 
  • Don't be afraid to move while on camera. While nervous movement is bad, some movement is good! This will require the help of a friend. to run the video camera.
  • Consider using multiple light sources to reduce shadows. Turn the lights up full when taping indoors and avoid standing in front of a bright window or doorway. Avoid using bright visual aids instead opt for cool colors as recommended in chapter 13. Learn how to adjust your "white balance" prior to recording video.
  • Consider your background. Simple is best. Speaking in front of bare walls or curtains works well. Wear a color that contrasts rather than blends with your background.
  • This won't be easy and likely requires that you have a friend from the audience pan the room to capture the audience, zoom the camera on your body language, gestures, and facial expression for much of the speech and perhaps use a wider shot if you are using a visual aid.

21. What should I expect with the online examination?

Answer: The exams involve 100 multiple choice questions that you must take online.  (We may break up the exam into three sets). You will have 100 minutes to complete the exam once you start.  The questions appear one at a time and you can not backtrack.  Do not allow yourself to be distracted (tell your family they'll have to wait until you've completed the exam.)  To prepare you should carefully read each chapter following the study guide provided. You are encouraged to complete the chapter self-tests (quizzes), which can be taken as many times as you like.  Students who complete the chapter self-test at least three times each tend to score one letter grade higher than student that do not review using the chapter self-tests.

22. I don't have much experience with Angel, what can I do?

Answer:  Visit this Angel overview link it will provide a basic introduction to the features available in Angel.

23. Where can I get information on how to properly cite sources in my Preparation Outline?

Answer: Students learn in high school English classes and in college English classes like ENG-1101 about source citation and proper documentation.  This course allows you to cite in either MLA or APA style but both require specific information about whatever source you either quote or paraphrase (borrow ideas from).  Speakers who fail to cite sources for material quoted or paraphrased can be accused of plagiarism.

Check with your instructor about specifics but in all cases it is important to provide the WHO, WHAT, WHERE and WHEN of each source.  In some cases no author will be attributed so the who will not be available. 

A great online resource to learn about proper source citation is available at

 24. My instructor has directed me to the Testing Center.  I've never taken an exam there.  What should I know.

Answer: The Testing Center is located on the 4th Floor of Buildling 10 in room 10-445.  You should plan to bring your Sinclair Tartan ID with you when you arrive to take the Exam.  Exams are administered on a walk in basis (first come first served).  You should confirm that your exam is available and the deadline for completion.  The phone number for the testing center is 512-3076.

 25. What should I do if the online class isn't working for me?

Answer:  Many Students are drawn to the flexibility of online classes.  Some students think online classes will be easier.  Many students realize that online classes require much more dedication, preparation and discipline than taking a class face-to-face where an instructor regularly reminds students about deadlines and offers frequent feedback regarding their course progress.  If you aren't certain that an online course is right for you speak to your instructor.  Students are allowed to drop any course within approximately one week of the first day of classes for a full refund.  Students are not allowed to add courses in any term after classes have met.  Review the expectations page carefully. Look at the assignments and review the schedule to know when things are due.

If you find you are not doing well after midterm there is still time to drop any course without a refund before the end of the term.  When it doubt, talk it out with your instructor or an academic counselor. 


26. What is a Hybrid course and what should I expect?

Answer: Hybrid courses replace in class "seat time" with out of class online learning.  In this course the Communication department faculty have decided to meet only once a week instead of the traditional two times per week, expecting students to complete the substantial work online outside of class time.  This approach will allow us to spend more time engaging students in active learning.

In order to show attendance/participation in this course, students are expected to login to the course multiple times every week, complete each week's activities by the stated deadlines and attend all face-to-face class sessions.  A hybrid course requires substantial self-discipline on the part of the learner to complete the course successfully.

27. How much time should I anticipate spending on this Hybrid course?

Answer: This is a three credit-hour college course requiring the same time commitment as any three hour course.  You should plan to spend approximately 8 to 10 hours per week on this course alone.  For this reason a student is considered "Full-time" when he or she takes 12-15 hours of classes because he or she should be spending about 40 hours per week preparing for class, meeting in class, or reviewing class material.

Because this is a Hybrid course, you will have to actively manage your time to ensure you are completing current work for class this week while at the same time looking ahead to prepare for coming class sessions.  For instance you may be preparing to speak on week, listening to classmates the following week while at the same time preparing materials for your next speech.