San Jos� State University - URBP 213
Professor Asha Weinstein Agrawal - Fall 2008

Presentation 1 (Assignment #2)

Overview and purpose

In this assignment, you will prepare a six-minute presentation to give in class. The goal of the presentation is to convince the audience to take an action you suspect they will resist.  (You are not merely trying to inform or educate audience members about a topic on which they will likely hold no opinions.)  After giving the presentation, you will watch a videotape of it and write a memo about what you have learned from completing the assignment.

The purpose of the assignment is to give you practice in public speaking, with a special focus on the skills of:

  1. Communicating a clear message and presentation structure to the audience.
  2. Crafting a persuasive message.
  3. Reflecting on the process you use to plan, revise, and evaluate a presentation. 

In addition, the assignment gives you practice at giving and receiving feedback from your peers.

Due Dates


1. Choose a topic.

You may chose any real, current issue that interests you, as long as it lends itself to a persuasive presentation in which you try to convince audience members to take a specific, observable action -- vote for something, sign something, switch from driving to biking, remodel their home using "green" technologies, etc.  You might chose to give a presentation urging a city council to approve or deny a zoning variance, or maybe one urging the board of a transportation agency to approve or deny a proposal to widen a road.  Do not pick a topic where you want to "change people's minds" or "educate" them (they would not, in those cases, be taking an observable action).

Here are a few points to keep in mind when choosing your topic:

2. Outline the presentation.

Develop a detailed outline for the presentation, paying careful attention to the elements of public speaking we have discussed in class�e.g., a clearly defined core idea, logical order of material, clear transitions, and a good introduction. 

At the top of the outline, state:

The body of the outline should be formatted to follow Makay�s "planning" or "full-content" model, with headings and subheadings, notes on the evidence or quotations you will present, and transitions.  Remember to write short but complete sentences for each section heading (i.e., "Only three new parks were built in Saratoga from 1950 - 2000," not something vague like "History of parks").  The outline should not, however, be a word-for-word transcript of everything you plan to say.

Use footnotes throughout the outline as needed to cite your sources. At the end of the outline, include a bibliography of all sources cited in the outline. (Format the footnotes and bibliography following the style guidelines in the Turabian manual.)

Email this outline to Asha and your peer feedback group members by Friday, September 19. In the subject line of the email, write "URBP 213 Presentation 1: Your-last-name-here draft outline," putting your last name in the appropriate place.

You will discuss your outline in class on September 24/25, so be sure to bring a copy of your outline to class.

3. Revise your outline, rehearse, and present!

Using the feedback you received from your peers and anyone else you want to ask for help, revise your outline to prepare the final version. Practice giving the speech to make sure it fits into the six-minute time limit and become comfortable giving it.

All students will give their presentations in class on October 1/2. You will have a maximum of six minutes to speak, and you should not use handouts or visual aids of any kind.  Your presentation will be videotaped, so you must bring a VHS or digital video tape to class.

Email Asha a copy of your final, revised outline by noon on October 1/2.  In the subject line of the email, write "URBP 213 Presentation 1: Your-last-name final outline," putting your last name in the appropriate place.

4. Review the videotape of your speech and the written feedback you received from the class.

First review the written feedback from your class members, and then take the following steps to review the tape of your speech:

If you don�t have personal access to equipment to watch the recording, you can make a reservation at SJSU Media Services to watch your presentation.  Media Services has two editing booths, and if those are not available, then the staff may also be able to set you up with alternative equipment to view the tape.  To make a reservation, call Media Services at 408-924-2888 and explain that you would like to reserve an editing booth or alternative equipment to watch a digital video cassette or VHS tape (whichever you have). I recommend that you reserve the equipment for an hour.  Media Services is located in IRC 1st Floor. Their hours during the semester are: Monday � Thursday, 7:00 am-9:45 pm, and Fridays 7:00 am - 4:45 pm.

5. Write a follow-up memo.

Write a short memo reflecting on what you learned from the experience of drafting, revising, practicing, presenting, and watching your speech. The memo should cover the following four issues:

  1. Core idea: How clearly did you communicate your core idea to the audience?  To write this section of the memo, use the in-class feedback forms each student filled out.  Write down exactly (word for word) what each student said your core idea was and assess how closely these statements do or do not match the core idea you wrote in your final outline.
  2. Purpose: How clearly did you communicate to the audience what you wanted them to do?  To write this section of the memo, use the in-class feedback forms each student filled out.  Write down exactly (word for word) what each student said you wanted audience members to do, and assess how closely these statements do or do not match the purpose you stated in your final outline.
  3. Strengths: What were the key strengths of the talk, taking into account both your own observations and the feedback you received?
  4. Strategies for improvement: What are the three aspects of the talk that you would most want to improve and what specific steps would you take the next time you prepare and give a talk to make sure you do better?

You may write the memo in either paragraph or bullet form, but make sure that it is clearly written, well-organized, and without grammatical errors or typos.

Email the memo to Asha before class on October 8/9.  In the subject line of the email, write "URBP 213 Presentation 1: Your-last-name-here reflective memo," putting your last name in the appropriate place.

We will discuss these memos in class on October 8/9, so bring a paper copy with you.


This assignment will be primarily graded on the basis of the talk you give, as well as on the clarity of the final outline and memo you submit.  The accompanying "Presentation 1 Assessment Form" lays out the primary grading criteria I will use. I will lower the grade of anyone who does not complete all elements of the assignment.

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Page last modified on 25 August 2008