- Six Tips for Success in CMST 101 -



It is my experience that those who do well with their speeches are not those who have the best “natural” speaking abilities, nor those who most enjoy being the center of attention. Those students who, each quarter, consistently get the best grades in this course are those who are willing to do the following:


1.    Come to class – the text provides the theoretical background of this course. The classroom is where you’ll learn how to apply the theory. You will find it almost impossible to do well on the assignments if you miss lectures.


2.    Follow Instructions – Each graded assignment in this class is summarized in a handout that will provide the specific requirements for accomplishing the task. Read these carefully and check your work against them when you’ve finished.


3.    Follow Instructions – Each student will be given a syllabus and one is available on the course website . Read this syllabus and know the policies of the class and the department. Make sure that your work is on time, correctly presented, and adequately developed. What this means, exactly, is spelled out in detail in the syllabus.


4.    Pay Attention – Much, if not all, of what is required to be known and done in this course is articulated during class lectures and in response to student questions. If you don’t hear this, you won’t know it. Quod Eram Dictat


5.    Ask Questions – If something is not clear or if, even after a second explanation, you don’t understand the point, ask for an explanation. You owe it to yourself, and to your classmates [chances are that if you don’t “get it,” neither do others] to make sure that you don’t leave the class without knowing whatever it was I was attempting to explain. It’s my responsibility to present course material and practices in a manner that you can understand. It’s your responsibility to let me know when that hasn’t happened.


6.    Come to Class and Participate – Much of what we will discuss in this class has to do with the rhetorical concepts of “audience” and the “social contract” of speakers and their audience. Without your participation these concepts will be representative of only those students who are willing to speak up. I not only encourage student participation and expect it; I need it. Public speaking is a skill that is developed in the performance of Rhetoric, the philosophical art directed toward persuasion in areas of probable truth. Without your participation there will be no true reflection of who the audience is, nor what appeals are likely to be most effective. It is in this arena and in this subject area that it is essential for you to exercise your right to have a “voice.” It is expected that you will do so, but it is also necessary that you do so. Without your voice the true makeup of our audience cannot be known.


These actions are simple and are within the arguable capability of everyone who takes this class. My direct experience would suggest that the failure to execute these actions is generally an issue of choice, not capability.