Course Syllabus

Welcome to COMM101: Public Speaking

Specific information about this course and its requirements can be found below. For more general information about taking Saylor Academy courses, including information about Community and Academic Codes of Conduct, please read the Student Handbook.


Course Description

Explore the elements of an effective speech and practice specific, performance-oriented aspects of public speaking.


Course Introduction

This course systematically examines the elements of an effective speech and goes through an element-by-element examination of the essentials of public speaking, while also identifying traits of the individual speaker and how they affect preparation and presentation. This course also demonstrates specific, performance-oriented aspects of public speaking. The themes of information and ethics tie these elements together and are emphasized in every part of the course because they are vitally important to all communicators. Since modern societies have ever-increasing access to information, there are increased demands on the individual to use information effectively and ethically. For example, "the New York Times has more information in one week than individuals in the 1800s would encounter in a lifetime". This illustrates the additional challenges speakers face beyond the common stresses of public speaking anxiety. In spite of that, ethical communication means not only accepting responsibility for the information you present, but also speaking up when others abuse their information platforms.

This course includes the following units:

  • Unit 1: Why Public Speaking Matters Today
  • Unit 2: Speaking Confidently
  • Unit 3: The Importance of Listening
  • Unit 4: Audience Analysis
  • Unit 5: Finding a Purpose and Selecting a Topic
  • Unit 6: Researching Your Speech
  • Unit 7: Supporting Ideas and Building Arguments
  • Unit 8: The Body of a Speech
  • Unit 9: Introductions and Conclusions
  • Unit 10: Outlining
  • Unit 11: The Importance of Language
  • Unit 12: Delivering the Speech
  • Unit 13: Presentation Aids: Design and Usage
  • Unit 14: Speaking to Inform and Entertain
  • Unit 15: Persuasive Speaking


Course Learning Outcomes

Upon successful completion of this course, you will be able to:

  • recognize and apply the ethical responsibility of the speaker in a variety of speaking situations;
  • apply techniques of critical listening and constructive criticism of content as a listener and speaker;
  • use/apply audience analysis to improve public speaking situations, which includes purpose, topic selection, and delivery strategies;
  • use online and library-based research to find and critique the credibility of sources of information;
  • cite sources of information appropriately, accurately, and clearly in both spoken and written contexts;
  • choose an effective pattern of organization for presenting different types of information to a listening audience;
  • identify effective use of an introduction and conclusion in constructing a speech;
  • create keyword and sentence outlines for informative and persuasive speeches;
  • identify and use techniques to improve the fluidity and clarity of verbal delivery;
  • recognize non-verbal techniques that communicate the speaker's confidence and credibility in a sample speech;
  • identify effective visual resources used to present informative and/or persuasive speeches; and
  • recognize and manage communication apprehension.

Throughout this course, you will also see learning outcomes in each unit. You can use those learning outcomes to help organize your studies and gauge your progress.


Course Materials

The primary learning materials for this course are articles, lectures, and videos.

All course materials are free to access and can be found in each unit of the course. Pay close attention to the notes that accompany these course materials, as they will tell you what to focus on in each resource, and will help you to understand how the learning materials fit into the course as a whole. You can also see a list of all the learning materials in this course by clicking on Resources in the navigation bar.


Evaluation and Minimum Passing Score

Only the final exam is considered when awarding you a grade for this course. In order to pass this course, you will need to earn a 70% or higher on the final exam. Your score on the exam will be calculated as soon as you complete it. If you do not pass the exam on your first try, you may take it again as many times as you want, with a 7-day waiting period between each attempt. Once you have successfully passed the final exam you will be awarded a free Course Completion Certificate.


Tips for Success

COMM101: Public Speaking is a self-paced course, which means that you can decide when you will start and when you will complete the course. There is no instructor or an assigned schedule to follow. We estimate that the "average" student will take 92 hours to complete this course. We recommend that you work through the course at a pace that is comfortable for you and allows you to make regular progress. It's a good idea to also schedule your study time in advance and try as best as you can to stick to that schedule.

Learning new material can be challenging, so we've compiled a few study strategies to help you succeed:

  • Take notes on the various terms, practices, and theories that you come across. This can help you put each concept into context, and will create a refresher that you can use as you study later on.
  • As you work through the materials, take some time to test yourself on what you remember and how well you understand the concepts. Reflecting on what you've learned is important for your long-term memory, and will make you more likely to retain information over time.


Technical Requirements

This course is delivered entirely online. You will be required to have access to a computer or web-capable mobile device and have consistent access to the internet to either view or download the necessary course resources and to attempt any auto-graded course assessments and the final exam.

  • To access the full course including assessments and the final exam, you will need to be logged into your Saylor Academy account and enrolled in the course. If you do not already have an account, you may create one for free here. Although you can access some of the course without logging in to your account, you should log in to maximize your course experience. For example, you cannot take assessments or track your progress unless you are logged in.

For additional guidance, check out Saylor Academy's FAQ.



This course is entirely free to enroll in and to access. Everything linked in the course, including textbooks, videos, webpages, and activities, is available for no charge. This course also contains a free final exam and course completion certificate.

Last modified: Friday, November 13, 2020, 1:43 PM