A Rubric for Teaching Public Speaking as a Classicist

My learning goals when I teach public speaking are three, corresponding to the three main elements of the classical system, inventio, elocutio, and actio, that is, framing (coming up with arguments to suit a particular situation and audience), style (using memorable language), and delivery. These learning goals are expressed in the following rubric, which I ask students to fill out for each other as they listen to each others’ speeches. I then collect the feedback and synthesize it for each student. I don’t use the whole rubric right away, but use pieces of it as we discuss the three main elements in turn. I wrote a blog post for the SCS that explains my approach, and have also posted a syllabus for the 2020 version of the course, along with some talk prompts.  

1 = very poor; 2 = inadequate; 3 = barely adequate; 4 = ok; 5 = good; 6 = strong; 7 = outstanding

FRAMING

common ground articulated (not just “I think…”)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

evidence provided (but not too much)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

emotional connection with audience (but not too extreme)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

STYLE

correctness (words in common use, properly designate the things you want to say)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

clarity (meaning is immediately understandable, avoids excessive abstraction and euphemism)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

ornamentation (use of tropes and figures adds vitality and polish)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

propriety (parts make a whole and whole fits the occasion)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

DELIVERY

appropriate eye contact

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

good posture and gesture

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

effective voice modulation, emphasis, pausing

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

timing (not rushed, over or under time)

1              2              3              4              5              6              7             

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