Course Information

Introduction to Public Speaking is a course designed to teach students basic public speaking skills. The course helps students develop an understanding of the basic principles of oral communication, with a focus on improving skills in researching, writing, and organizing effective presentations that are appropriate to particular audiences. Students will develop, improve, and gain confidence in basic delivery skills. Students will also learn to critically evaluate speeches and develop an awareness of, and appreciation for, the responsibilities of ethical communication.

Class size limit: 27

Sample Syllabus

U of M Catalog Description

Public communication processes, elements, and ethics. Criticism of and response to public discourse. Practice in individual speaking designed to encourage civic participation.

Student Qualifications

Students enrolling in COMM 1101 must be juniors or seniors in high school and in the top 50 percent of their class, or have instructor approval, to participate.

Instructor Qualifications

Instructors apply and are selected by faculty in accordance with the U of M policy governing Academic Appointments with Teaching Functions. Once approved, an instructor is appointed as a Teaching Specialist 9754 (University Job Title and Code) in the College of Continuing and Professional Studies. Instructor qualifications are determined by the sponsoring University department.

View the Instructor Applicant Handbook for course-specific qualifications and application steps. 

Please note: If you would like to teach this course in any term shorter than a semester, please contact the faculty coordinator Diane Odash ([email protected]) before you apply.


There is no one required text for this course; however, any textbook selected must be a college-level text and must be approved by the faculty coordinator. One of the following titles is typically selected by instructors for use as a student text:

  • Lucas, Stephen E. The Art of Public Speaking. 12th ed. McGraw-Hill Publishers, 2014.
  • Mapes, Meggie. Speak Out, Call In: Public Speaking as Advocacy. University of Kansas Libraries, 2019.
  • Gunn, Joshua. Speech Craft. 2nd ed. Bedford/St. Martins, 2021.

Frequently Asked Questions

Are the texts and readings specified or mandated by the University of Minnesota? If not, what are some of the choices?
There is no one required text for this course, but any textbook selected must be approved by the faculty coordinator; see above for a list of texts that are typically used.

Do teachers have a choice in assignments? Are there required assignments?
Individual teachers have a significant amount of freedom in choosing assignments for the course. There is one required and standardized informative speech assignment with a common rubric. Also, since this is a skills-based class, at least 75 percent of the course grade must result from assignments related to composing or presenting speeches (the rest may come from quizzes, attendance, and so on). Every section of Comm 1101 must have a minimum of three major, individually performed, graded speeches, which are on nontrivial topics, and are research based. There must also be brief, nongraded speaking opportunities in which the student can receive feedback from the instructor and their peers.

Who creates the exams?
Individual teachers prepare their own tests if they choose to include them as part of the course.

Is there a training and mentoring system for communication studies teachers new to CIS?
There is not a formal mentoring system. Veteran CIS teachers form a close-knit group that will provide new teachers with a resource for support and ideas. Teachers swap materials and ideas in workshops, and all participating teachers have access to online resources, including assignments, text banks, and grading rubrics. New teachers also attend two new teacher workshops. The first workshop concentrates on course content and pedagogy, while the second introduces teachers to University processes and resources.

High school class schedules vary: can a teacher in the block system teach communication studies?
Public Speaking cannot be taught on a normal trimester or block schedule, but some schools have successfully altered their schedule to offer the course. Unless you are teaching the course over a full semester or longer, teachers should contact the faculty coordinator before submitting any part of their application to ensure that the school is willing to make the necessary adjustments to the schedule.

What happens at typical teacher workshops?
CIS teachers attend professional development workshops each term to stay current with U of M curriculum and the CIS program, to learn about innovative research, network, and share materials. Workshops serve as faculty meetings with course and program development discussions with special attention dedicated to content, pedagogy, and assessment of the college courses.

High Schools Offering This Course

  • Apple Valley High School
  • Buffalo High School
  • Burnsville High School
  • City Academy (Saint Paul)
  • Community of Peace Academy (Saint Paul)
  • Eagan High School
  • Eastview High School (Apple Valley)
  • Forest Lake Area High School
  • Hastings High School
  • Hill-Murray High School (Maplewood)
  • Litchfield High School
  • Milaca High School
  • Monticello High School
  • New Prague High School
  • North High School (North Saint Paul)
  • Pine City High School
  • Pipestone Area High School
  • Rosemount High School
  • Shakopee High School
  • Tartan High School (Oakdale)