You all have done rather well this semester. For the most part, I have been pleasantly surprised by the quality of work you have produced this semester. Public speaking is a difficult class to take for a lot of people and my students, this semester, on average, have been less afraid and more ready to engage in speaking. There are some of you that need to put in a little more effort, or at least pretend to do so. Public speaking (and being successful in college) has a lot to do with "playing the part."
This is what you should remember about public speaking: it is all about structure. Organization is key. There is structure in the outline of your speech and structure in the way one creates arguments using evidence. When you are asked to speak without any notice and have no time to prepare, it will be organization that gets you through the experience.
Here are a few tips that are specifically directed at my classes this semester:
Don't walk in a class when students are giving speeches. This is just about the worst thing you can do as an audience member in a public speaking class, yet many of you are interrupting speeches by walking in, or worse, getting up in the middle of speeches and exiting the room. Don't do that!
Pay attention to your classmate's speeches (or more generally, when other people are talking!). Give your undivided attention to your classmates, and any other speaker for that matter. It is rude to look at your phone or a newspaper or anything else. Don't read through your own speech while others are speaking. Focus on the speaker. Current technology is tempting, but act like someone taught you something about how to act in public.
Far too many of you are asking questions to the audience as attention getters. This is rarely a good idea. I'm really not sure why so many of you made this choice this semester, but stop it.
Everyone needs to work on previewing the main points and reviewing the main points. This is advice that is necessary to give to every intro to public speaking class. A few of you did really well with previewing, but it is something on which everyone can work. I'm not going to get in the car with you if you don't tell me where we're going.
Put more effort in on your outlines. Outlines are an important competent of a speech. I have noticed a lot of students this semester who are really talented but need to put in more effort researching and preparing outlines. Take time to do things ahead of time and not at the last minute. Writing and speaking are two things you should really try to prepare for ahead of time. You are putting yourself, your ideas and your passion for a subject out there to be judged. Act like it matters.
In future speeches talk about current events and more serious topics. I had you do an annotated bibliography from topics I selected because I feel that the speeches this semester have not had enough to do with current events and politics. You are lacking current significance. Consider the purpose of public speaking and respect the responsibility of people who choose to do it. Pay attention to the world.