EXPOS 40: PUBLIC SPEAKING PHILOSOPHY
While the teaching of classical rhetoric in academia has waned over the decades, the desires to clearly articulate one’s point of view and structure a persuasive argument remain necessary in interpersonal relationships, in the workplace, and in maintaining a healthy democracy. We believe that constructing a compelling speech requires creating an argument with a logical flow and consistency, meeting the audience on their terms, and generously presenting an honest self to the audience. Effective speaking, as with most performance, involves a myriad of skills, be they vocal, physical, logical, or emotional. Expos 40 provides a step-by-step approach to incorporate these skills.
The class is a practicum, and as such, much of the learning is from doing and observing one another. Every student receives personalized feedback from instructors and peers on all aspects of their work—from speech construction to performance. In all, the audience helps shape the performer as the performer shapes the audience.
THE PATH TO PROGRESS
In studies of the most common fears, the fear of public speaking usually polls relatively high—though sometimes it is tied with the public’s fear of snakes. While we cannot help one’s fear of serpents, this class demystifies the process of speaking to an audience. We put aside some of the popular advice on tackling one’s speaking anxieties, such as “imagine the audience naked.” While that advice is strange and strangely commonly prescribed, we encourage students not to imagine the audience as vulnerable (or “naked”) but rather as coparticipants in this process of relaying information. We encourage the speaker to explore their vulnerability and, in turn, trust in the strength of the audience.
The path of Expos 40 may not seem completely straight on its face, but, in fact, the class is constantly building each student’s interpersonal and performative skills, while exploring the various external forces and histories that affect how we communicate. Throughout the semester, students are encouraged to improvise, flex their creativity, tell compelling stories, and present structured speeches, while looking at the history of rhetoric and examining how race, gender, politics, and one’s own culture shapes their communication.
Each student enters Expos 40 with their own set of goals as a speaker, and we endeavor to help the student achieve them. Inevitably, students also discover skills they already had and new benchmarks to reach throughout the semester. Through various speeches and consistent feedback from peers and instructors, plus self-evaluation, students can practice, adjust, and invariably grow from the process.
A successful Expos 40 student takes risks, makes mistakes, and tries again. They reach out to their instructors, peers, or peer tutors to practice and adjust. The Expos 40 team is here to facilitate that process and to prove that you can imagine the audience fully attired while still being a compelling, confident speaker.
PUBLIC SPEAKING PRACTICUM
In Expos 40, we teach students the fundamentals of public speaking performance and rhetorical construction, which can be utilized in various environments, such as job interviews, meetings, presentations, or formal speeches. We teach students how to:
- Construct a clear thesis;
- Layer various arguments logically;
- Craft a compelling story/narrative and perform the story dramatically;
- Provide evidence for arguments and anticipate counterarguments;
- Source outside evidence;
- Anticipate audience’s needs and responses;
- Maintain awareness of one’s body language, eyeline, posture, and gestures;
- Support one’s breathing and voice, and focus on vocal clarity;
- Balance various ethos, logos, and pathos appeals