YOU HAVE SOMETHING TO SAY.
WE CAN HELP YOU SAY IT
The Penn State Undergraduate Speaking Center was born of the belief and supporting evidence that speaking well matters. Our mission is to help Penn State students graduate as excellent orators. From individuals to groups, the Speaking Center’s trained Mentors are ready to assist with every phase of your presentations.
Appointments for Online Mentoring
Speaking Center mentors are available for Zoom appointments beginning Monday, September 7 through Friday, December 11, except for the week of Thanksgiving Break. Undergraduate students enrolled at University Park can check for available appointments on the Public Speaking Mentoring page on Starfish. When possible, please schedule your appointment at least 15 minutes in advance.
Guidelines for a successful online mentoring session:
- A link to a Zoom meeting will be provided when you book the appointment. Click on that link when it’s time for your appointment to begin.
- If you need to change your appointment time, please remember to cancel the first appointment so the mentor isn’t left waiting for you.
- You may be asked to email your assignment directions and speech outline, notes, or PowerPoint when setting up the appointment. Even if you email these documents in advance, please come to the appointment with your assignment directions and any work completed thus far open on your computer.
- Please remain professional during the appointment, including wearing appropriate attire. (These appointments are governed by Penn State’s Code of Conduct.)
In-person mentoring is available on a limited basis in 7D Sparks Building from Monday, September 9 through Thursday, November 19. In-person mentoring will be suspended during any periods where Penn State temporarily moves all classes online.
No appointment is needed for these drop-in mentoring sessions, although masks and social distancing are required at all times. Bring your assignment directions and any work completed thus far to 7D Sparks during the following times:
- Sundays: 6-8pm
- Mondays: 4-8pm
- Tuesdays: 4-6pm
- Wednesdays: 6-8pm
- Thursdays: 4-8pm
- Fridays and Saturdays: Closed
We Assist with:
- BRAINSTORMING TOPICS
- ORGANIZATION & OUTLINING
- KICKSTARTING RESEARCH
- SHARPENING LANGUAGE
- DELIVERY COACHING
- DEVELOPING POWERFUL VISUAL AIDS
BEFORE YOU VISIT
Your time is valuable, and so is ours! Be sure you come prepared for your meeting by bringing all of the resources necessary to your visit.
Plan ahead. Don’t wait until the day before (or hours before) to seek help; you need time to make changes and rehearse your presentation aloud over several days.
Come as prepared for your meeting as possible. For example:
- If you need help brainstorming ideas for your presentation, bring your assignment description and rubric.
- If you need help outlining your presentation, bring your assignment description and rubric, all of your research, and thesis statement.
- If you need help with delivery, bring your assignment description and rubric, all of your notecards, and visual aids.
- If you need help with visual aids, bring your assignment description and rubric, research for visuals, and drafts of visuals.
“WHAT TO BRING?” CHECKLIST
- Assignment description and rubric
- Thesis Statement
- Visual Aids
There are specific Course Guides for Penn State courses. These resources have been designed to meet the curriculum needs of particular courses. Find your course here: Course Guide Finder
Another way to find high-quality information for your discipline is through the Penn State Library Subject Guides. Created by Subject Specialists, this page is another way to get to your area of study quickly: Subject Guides
Improper or absent citations can land you in a sea of hot water! With all of the easy resources, there’s no excuse not to cite your work properly.
Penn State Libraries offers a great place to start: Citation and Writing Guides
Another great go-to resource is the Purdue Online Writing Lab: Purdue OWL: Research and Citation Resources
CAS 100A (GWS) Effective Speech (3) Principles of communication, implemented through presentation of speeches, with some attention to group discussion and message evaluation.
CAS 100B (GWS) Effective Speech (3) Principles of communication, implemented through group problem solving, with some attention to formal speaking and message evaluation.
CAS 100C (GWS) Effective Speech (3) Principles of communication, implemented through analysis and evaluation of messages, with some attention to formal speaking and group discussion.
CAS 210 (GH) Landmark Speeches on Democracy and Dissent (3) Landmark Speeches on Democracy and Dissent offers a survey of key speeches, debates, and controversies making up the rich tradition of U.S. civic life. The course is designed to introduce students to the basic historical contexts within which these key events arise; engage them in close readings of speeches, tracts, and polemical writing; and develop skills in critical thinking and writing. Students will attend to a broad spectrum of voices, including those of historically under-represented peoples as well as canonical figures. Landmark Speeches on Democracy and Dissent thereby encourages students to develop a broad rhetorical literary in the diverse democratic voices that have long contributed to essential U.S. arguments about nationhood, protest, war, race, gender, religion, and more. The course presupposes that students will be able to apply this rhetorical literary to both participation within and critical thinking about contemporary forms of democracy and dissent.
CAS 213 Persuasive Speaking (3) Planning, organizing, and adapting techniques of persuasion to achieve personal and public goals; engaging in critical assessment of persuasive messages.
CAS 214W Speech Writing (3) Writing speeches for delivery in political, professional, and ceremonial settings; emphasis on composition and language for oral presentation.
CAS 215 Argumentation (3) Theory of argument: gathering of evidence, analysis of proposition, case building, cross-examination, refutation, composition and delivery of argumentative speech.
CAS 252 Business and Professional Communication (3) Interviewing, briefing, conferring, and decision making; analyzing and evaluating formal and informal patterns of communication in organizations.
CAS 315 Debate and Civic Life (3) This course provides historical background on debate in politics and in civic life, examining both public and competitive debate practices. Debate has been a vital part of democratic engagement in the United States since the founding of the country. This course explores the role debate has played in the United States, focusing primarily on debate practices in the 20th and 21st century. This course provides historical background on debate in politics and in civic life, examining both public and competitive debate practices. Course material will expose students to theories and practices of debate including the history of important debate moments in the United States, analysis of contemporary political debates, and practical debate techniques inside the classroom and in a public setting.
CAS 409 Democratic Deliberation (3) A more deliberative democracy would require broader public participation in politics and government and more serious deliberation on the challenges we must face together. This course introduces recent theory and research on deliberation and sharpens students’ skills at a range of processes, including informal political conversation, public forums, jury deliberation, the interplay of media and elections, and deliberation within and between governments and nonprofit organizations. Topics covered in the course include deliberative democratic theory, political conversation, common forms of public meetings, mediated deliberation, campaigns and elections, the jury system, and deliberative democracy on larger social scales.
CAS 417 Studies in Public Address (3) Language is power, and that power is vital to shaping our shared realities, values, and aspirations. Studies in Public Address examines key debates, issues, personalities, and texts as they shape American civic life. Themes may include the rhetoric of civil rights, religion, nationhood, and social controversy. Because the content of the class reflects the specific research interests of the professor teaching it that semester, students are encouraged to contact the professor responsible each semester to determine course content.
CAS 470 Nonverbal Communication (3) Examining ways nonverbal messages, such as gestures, posture, vocal intonation, and facial expressions, affect us on a daily basis.
BECOMING A MENTOR
Because we want to provide the most effective, beneficial experience for center visitors, there is a 2 semester process involved in becoming a mentor.
Students who have completed CAS/ENG 137H/138T or CAS 100A with an A- or better may nominate themselves or be nominated by their instructor for consideration as a mentor. Nominations are accepted during spring or fall semesters.
Nominated students will be invited to interview for acceptance into CAS 490, Peer Mentoring for Public Speaking, the following fall. Successful completion of the course and a recommendation by the course instructor will earn a position as a paid mentor.
REQUEST A PRESENTATION
Speaking Center Mentors would be happy to visit your class or organization to talk about the Center. The standard presentation lasts less than 5 minutes and explains the range of services offered, from topic selection and development all the way through delivery and how to deal with nervousness. Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your preferred locations, times, and dates.
We also are able to provide more in-depth presentations on a range of speech development strategies, such as transitions and organization strategies, brainstorming, rehearsal strategies, and PowerPoint design. Email email@example.com to discuss how we can tailor a presentation to the specific needs of your class or organization. (Because these presentations take additional time to develop, several weeks’ notice may be required.)