ENG 230: Public Speaking is an LA in the English department that was last offered in Fall 2010. According to the course description, ENG 230 “aims to develop effective public speaking skills, along with a complex understanding of what it means to speak ... to improve confidence and expression in oral presentation.” While it received generally positive reviews, ENG 230 has gone four semesters without being offered. Additionally, even in years when Public Speaking is offered, the number of spots in the class are limited, causing classes to quickly become oversubscribed due to high demand. Coupled with its infrequent offering, this demand prevents many students from ever being able to take the course.
The Editorial Board believes public speaking courses should be offered more frequently and with an increased number of class sections. In today’s competitive academic and professional environments, effective public speaking has become somewhat of a necessity for students to gain an edge. Along with clear and compelling writing, speech has become a distinguishing factor among students in classrooms as well as job interviews and professional settings. Students should be able to take courses in public speaking to develop confidence and thus improve performance in other courses and in the precept system in particular.
One could argue students have ample opportunity to develop public speaking skills in precept discussions, where students have the chance to speak to an audience of classmates. However, precept discussions are informal and focus on the class’s subject matter rather than the art of speech itself. A public speaking course is specifically geared toward teaching the art of communication. It would help improve students’ confidence and performance in speeches and likely encourage otherwise quiet students to participate in their other classes more often.
We also support public speaking groups on campus, such as the recently created Speak with Style. The group’s mission is to help students perfect their public speaking, presentation and interview skills. SWS also invites guest speakers, such as its faculty advisor John Weeren, speechwriter for University President Shirley Tilghman. We hope more students will work with groups such as SWS and improve the quality of in- and out-of-class presentations. We also hope, with a larger, frequently offered Public Speaking course, Princeton will take steps in the right direction to help students improve their communication from the classroom to the boardroom.