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Writing Speeches

These types of speeches are used by SPD 100 (Public Speaking students) and SPD 110 (Introduction to Speech Communication) students.

These guidesline have been created by Professor Bryant.

Demonstration speech: This is an informative speech in which the student is supposed to explain a process. The student is to use visual aids and must actually go through the action of making or doing the activity chosen. There must be a finished product. This is not just a "show & tell" but the process actually has to be done in class. The goal for this speech is for the student to concentrate on "doing" and not their note cards. Quickly the students realize they can speak with confidence about a topic they already know a great deal about. Some research is suggested so specific details can give "depth of knowledge" to the presentation.

Informative speech: This assignment concentrates more on research. The student may select any topic he wish es, but the key is to give "unknown" information to his audience. Therefore, the student must narrow the topic so that in 5-7 minutes he can give "depth of knowledge." Visual aids are required. The speaker must be objective in writing the presentation and may not take a pro or con position.

Persuasive speech: This assignment requires the student to take a position on a topic and attempt to reinforce the audience's feelings, change their minds, and/or motivate them to action. The student should have done some type of audience analysis to know how the class feels about this topic so the student can better form his argument. The majority of the class should not be in complete agreement with the student's position on the topic. Frequently, just rewording the specific purpose statement can give the speech a different focus. For example, "I intend to persuade my classmates to insist that their passengers wear seat belts when riding in their car." As opposed to "Wear seat belts" which the audience already does as indicated from their questionnaire. This topic may or may not be controversial. A specific plan or request for the audience is more effective in persuasion rather than a general goal.

Argumentative Speech: This speech is required for SPD 100 students to use critical thinking skills and to construct sound arguments focused at their specific audience. All types of evidence may be used. A call to action may be appropriate depending upon their topic. The student should use ethos, logos, and pathos.

Commemorative or special occasion speech: This speech may honor or praise an individual, event, or occasion. Special attention should be given to vivid language. If describing someone, use words that will draw in the minds of the audience a visual picture. Evoking a sense of pride, honor, appreciation, or affection may be appropriate.

For more help on writing speeches, speak to your professor, or visit the Writing Center.


Writing a College Application Essay

Admissions officers have the difficult job of trying to get to know a sudent from the packet of information in front them. They trudge through a swamp of test scores, course and lists of activities until they reach the one patch of high ground where they can get a glimpse of the real you: the Essay. If your essay is boring, you are boring. If your essay is typical, there is nothing special about you. If your essay has careless errors, then you must be a person constantly tripping over your own shoelaces. The essay is your chance to round yourself out in the eyes of the admissions officer, to become a real person, an individual, and not just a series of statistics. If someone reads your essay and likes you because of it, he will have a hard time tossing your application into the "NO" pile. Here are some tips for writing a successful essay:

(1) Read a book on applying to college. Loudoun's library has some good ones, such as Fiske's How to Get into the Right College. These books have several good tips from admissions officers, and they offer samples of successful and unsuccessful essays. (Be careful not to steal specific ideas from these books. Admissions officers have read them, too. In fact, admissions officers often wrote them!)

(2) Organize your essay around a certain theme-the aspect of you that you want to bring alive and offer specific examples. Make sure that your essay couldn't apply to anyone else.

(3) The essay should come across as honest. Don not try to impress the reader with lofty language and the types of topics you think you are "supposed" to discuss. Your essay should come from the heart and sound like you.

(4) Answer the question. Don't stretch it and write about something completely different.

(5) Follow directions! If your application asks for a letter, then write a letter. If the application tells you to put your name and social security number on the essay, then put your name and social security number on the essay. If your application stipulates a word limit, don't exceed it.

(6) Humor can be just the thing to wake up a bored admissions officer, but humor can backfire and make you appear aloof, cynical, or worse: just not funny. As a rule, only gifted writers can use humor successfully. Give your essay to several friends to read, and watch them while they read it. If they don't laugh or smile, it isn't working. And remember, the essay shouldn't only be funny; it must also be intelligent and revealing.

(7) Don't have ANY grammar errors, punctuation errors, or typos.


Writing a Business Letter

What is the point of a business letter?

A business letter is one of the most important ways to communicate in the business world. A good business letter not only communicates but also records information. Use the same techniques of writing you use to write an essay, keeping efficiency, effectiveness, and your audience in mind.

What are the most important things to think about when writing one?

1 . Organization. Before you write the letter, briefly outline your thoughts. A forthright, concise letter first states your purpose, then explains the purpose, and then closes politely.

2. Purpose. The main idea or intent of the letter should be stated in the first paragraph. Don't be shy or evasive. If you want an interview, state, "I would like to schedule an interview." If you are answering a letter, mention the date and intent of that letter right away. For example, you might state, "I am writing in response to the letter you sent me on March 3, 1995, in which you asked for advice about starting a new writing center at your campus.'

3. Audience. Identify the reader and address the reader as "you" just as if you were speaking directly to an individual. Keep your reader's position in mind, and be friendly but polite. (Politeness is especially important in a letter of complaint, because a furious or condescending tone might lead your reader to decide not to act on your behalf.) Also, do not hesitate to use "I" when appropriate.

4. Tone. A formal tone is required for business letters. However, be sure you don't use business jargon that is often cold, stiff, and unnatural. For example, do not say "I acknowledged receipt of your letter and I hereby relinquish my thanks to you." Read your letter aloud to see if it sounds "right." Just because a letter is formal, it does not have to be rigid.

What type of formatting should I use?

Business letters may be typed in a variety of formats. Concise paragraphs numbered lists, and indentations are often appropriate in a business letter. Generally, the letter should contain the following six elements:

(1) heading (return address and date)

(2) inside address (of the recipient)

(3) salutation ("Dear Dr. Faustus:")

(4) body

(5) compliment close ("Thank you for your time. Sincerely yours,"

(6) signature

Finally. do not make ANY technical errors in such areas as grammar, punctuation, or misspellings. Such mistakes will lead to the recipient not taking you seriously.

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