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Public Speaking Evaluation Interview with Communication Professor and Author Dr. Steven Brydon

Rate Speeches conducted an interview about public speaking evaluation with communication studies professor and author, Dr. Steven Brydon.

 

Zaydoon Jawadi, Rate Speeches:

Most public speaking instructors and coaches generate public speaking evaluations (AKA public speaking, speaker, speech, or presentation assessments, critiques, feedback, or analysis) for their students' speeches.  What advice would you give the evaluators to create effective evaluations?

Dr. Brydon:

We use a series of rubrics for evaluating speakers on a variety of criteria, including organization, content, delivery, and use of visual aids.  The rubric is a matrix or a grid; the rows contain speech evaluation criteria or categories and the columns contain range of comments pertaining to performance level.  For each category, specific expectations for performance at the advanced, good, average, poor, and unacceptable levels are specified.  For example, students know that to earn the highest scores for source citation they need to orally cite at least four quality sources during their speeches.  For each assignment there is a different rubric; for instance, for persuasive speeches there is a specific rubric that has evaluation criteria for persuasion.  The rubric is very helpful to students and avoids using repetitive comments.  There is also a place for open-ended comments.  Unfortunately, I cannot provide copies of the rubrics to you because they were developed by one of our master’s students for her thesis and she has copyrighted them.  However, the basic idea is that expectations are clearly laid out for each level of performance for all the criteria that will be used for a given speech assignment.

 

Zaydoon Jawadi, Rate Speeches:

Public speaking audience members and viewers of speech videos often write brief reviews about the speakers and speeches, or rate the speakers and speeches based on a few criteria.  Assuming the individuals generating the speaker ratings, speech ratings, or speech reviews are students of a public speaking course, what advice would you give them to rate and review effectively?

Dr. Brydon:

We record all our speeches with a digital camera and upload them to a website.  We generally ask students to review their own videos and indicate at least three things they did well and three things they would like to improve.  The general categories are the same as for the rubrics: organization, content, delivery, and use of visual aids.  This process is also very helpful to students.  This basic framework should be adaptable to anyone viewing these videos, whether they have formal training in public speaking or not.

 

Zaydoon Jawadi, Rate Speeches:

What advice would you give the recipients to benefit from the evaluations?

Dr. Brydon:

I think the most important thing is to listen with an open mind and try to avoid being defensive.  Unlike evaluating a student paper, a speech is a very personal thing and criticisms have a tendency to be viewed as threatening.  My basic practice is not to critique a speaker immediately after he or she speaks, but to allow the entire class to complete their speeches and then provide oral feedback after that.  I try to draw general lessons from the speeches given that day so that no one person feels singled out.  I always try to balance positive feedback with constructive suggestions.  If there are particular problems that might be uncomfortable to discuss before the entire class (as there often are), I save those comments for my written critique.  The key, I think is to help speakers build on their existing strengths and not to dwell on weaknesses (of which they are often quite painfully aware).  The worst outcome is to so traumatize someone that they experience even greater anxiety the next time they speak.  I try to create a “coaching” rather than evaluating framework for the feedback I provide as an instructor.

 

June 7, 2011

About Steven Brydon:

Steven Brydon is Professor Emeritus at California State University, Chico, and received his Ph.D. from the University of Southern California.  He teaches courses in public speaking, small group communication, argumentation, and public opinion and propaganda.  He coached speech and debate for 12 years and served as department chair for 10 years over two separate terms.  For over a decade he co-directed the public speaking course along with Dr. Michael D. Scott, his co-author on the public speaking book Between One and Many: The Art and Science of Public Speaking, published by McGraw-Hill, now in its seventh edition.  He has also coauthored two other books and has written in the areas of political communication, argumentation, and debate.

Steven Brydon

 

About Steven Brydon: