Exam Instructions

Design and deliver an eight-minute PERSUASIVE speech that advocates a new attitude, belief, value, action, or proposal to a specific audience. Although you will give the speech in front of a single judge and a video camera, you should speak to the judge as if they are a member of one of the following social groups:

  • Business group (i.e., Chamber of Commerce, Board of Directors, Union)
  • Educational group (i.e., PTA, School Board, Teacher's Union)
  • Political group (i.e., lobbyists, party members, legislators)

Before you begin the speech, the judge will ask you which specific group is selected. You are free to choose whatever topic you believe would be relevant to the audience, but you must choose a topic drawn from current issues in the news. For example, you may choose a topic on media issues and select "state representatives" as your target audience. You then could advocate that state representatives adopt a policy of regulating hate speech on the web. To make sure your topic is current, the judge will expect you to reference a news article that has been published within six months of your speaking date.

Remember that within the context of this exam, an effective persuasive speech involves:

  • Clear organization of ideas and arguments(with recognizable introduction, body of main points, transitions, conclusion) with a clearly constructed thesis (a specific outcome or idea that you want the audience to accept)
  • Evidence and supporting material from reliable sources (four sources required and cited verbally in speech, including one from the news within six months of your speaking date, and one taken from an academic journal) A full verbal citation includes (all 4): Author / Title / Source / and Date.
  • Extemporaneous delivery (speech presented from a brief speaking outline or note cards)

There is a $25 non-refundable fee for this exam.

Extemporaneous delivery means the speech is delivered from note cards, or a brief speaking outline (not the complete sentence outline you provide for the judge). Do not use a manuscript. Do not read the speech! Do not recite a memorized speech. Extemporaneous speaking allows the speaker to adjust the message to the audience. Thus, the judge will expect your delivery to involve behaviors that support the content of the speech: consistent eye contact, vocal expressiveness, gestures and body movement that are controlled and that enhance content, a conversational vocal style, with pitch and rate changes for emphasis, grammatically correct phrasing, avoidance of verbal clutter (i.e., "um," "you know," "I mean," "like-a," "and-uh"), and elimination of distracting mannerisms. A lectern will be available but is not required. Please do not use audio-visual aids, such as posters, photographs, PowerPoint presentations, or videos.

Before presenting your speech, give a complete sentence outline of the speech to the judge. This outline is part of the competency exam and should display the following: a clear thesis sentence (labeled for easy reference), complete sentences (no sentence fragments) for all major points and all supporting points, a standard organizational pattern (i.e., Problem/Solution, Motivated Sequence, Topical), accurate use of MLA outline notation (i.e., I. / A. / 1. / a./, etc.), and printed in-text citations indicating where in the outline a source is used to support a point (attach a reference sheet if necessary).

Annotated Bibliography
Attach to your outline an annotated bibliography for all sources cited in the speech. Your annotated bibliography should include a full MLA listing of bibliographical information (Author / Title / Source / Date) for each source used in the speech presentation and single paragraph summary of the content for each source listed. This is an important document to establish that your research for the speech is original and designed exclusively for the competency exam.

If the outline and annotated bibliography are unacceptable, the best you can receive on this exam is "Provisional Competency." You may move from "Provisional Competency" to "Competency Met" by correcting and re-submitting the Outline / Annotated Bibliography within 7 days of your exam date.

The Oral Communication Competency Exam can be taken only ONCE. If you cancel your reservation, you forfeit the $25 Judges/Exam Fee. Please email or call the Communication Department (x5095) with a 24-hour notice of any cancellation. You may sign up again, but you will be required to pay another Judges/Exam Fee.

Appeal Process
You have the opportunity to appeal the judgment rendered in the Oral Communication Competency Exam. If you wish to initiate this right of appeal, please make this request in writing to the Communication Department within 7 days of the date of your examination. The sole basis of the appeal should be your performance according to the criteria used to judge the speech. In an appeal, two current faculty members within the department separately review a copy of the original speech outline and watch the recorded speech. They then complete a new evaluation form that is returned to the Department Chair. Once the forms are completed, the majority rules. This is the department's final decision.

See Exam InstructionsOral Communication Criteria, and Tips for Success  for all exam requirements. Here is the  Evaluation Form judges use to evaluate the Oral Competency Exam. Additional resources available at The Speech Center.