Informative speech assignment: birthday speech

The birthday speech is a great choice for the first speech requiring research. The research can be tough on this as the events must be confined to the exact day and year of the student’s birth. Most students will not be able to do this with Google alone and will find themselves in a library looking at copies of old newspapers (gasp!) to complete it.

A risk with this assignment is that it can get boring to listen to all of them — I tell the students this is preventable however. First, on the job you will often not get to choose your topics but will have to take what you’re given and make it interesting. Second, all of these events are stories — think about them the same way you did with the introductory (tell a story) speech already completed in class. Third, it is fully in your control how boring they are.

I make visual aids optional simply due to time constraints but they are easy to find and add a lot to the speech if you wish to require them.

Here is the assignment as described to students:

  • Goal: Informative speaking is the most common type employed in educational and workplace settings. Students will create an informative speech to educate the class about three events that took place on the student’s birthday (exact day and year).
  • Requirements: 4-minute informative speech. Visual aid: Optional. Outline with bibliography: 3 sources required, all must be cited in the speech. Notecards: 3 permitted, which will be turned in after the speech.
  • Grade: 50 points.
  • Recommendations: The theme of the speech should complete the sentence, “I want my audience to be informed that…” It is best to focus on simpler aspects of complicated events and seek out interesting details. The challenges with this speech are doing the research and finding ways to make the speech interesting. Failure to cite sources in this speech will result in a maximum possible grade of “C”.

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About teachingpublicspeaking

I believe public speaking can go from most dreaded class to favorite class. I'm a former public speaking college instructor who spent years seeking out activities, assignments and examples to make the class interactive as well as educational -- they are collected here. I welcome suggestions for additions.

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