It only takes one

The following is written by Sonja K. Stetzler, instructor of Queens University’s Public Speaking 200 course.

In an effort to give students a taste of a real-world experience, the assignment for their persuasion speech this semester in Public Speaking 200 took a charitable turn. For this assignment, the students were asked to select a charity or non-profit organization and develop six–to-eight minute persuasive speech. The purpose of the speech was to convince the class that the charity/non-profit chosen by the student deserved to receive the class donation. Before the speech project was assigned, the class decided they would individually donate $5 towards the class donation, and the instructor added an extra kicker by announcing she would match the class’ donation.

The charities and non-profit organizations chosen by the students ranged from local to international and mirrored the diversity and interests of the students.  A short list of the organizations the students choose to speak for included Alexander Youth Network, Cystic Fibrosis Foundation, Carolina Care Partnership, Urban Ministry Center, Livestrong, Nothing But Nets, Prevent Child Abuse America, American Red Cross, Ronald McDonald House, Susan Komen Breast Cancer Foundation, Elevate Hope Foundation, The Salvation Army, Amnesty International, Children’s Miracle Network, Children for Hope, and the Charitable Foundation of the National Football League. At the conclusion of each presentation, each student entertained a brief question and answer session about his organization.

The intent of using this format was to get the students involved on an emotional as well as academic level. The students also had to think through how to persuade members of an audience who may have had a different agenda. After all the students had delivered their speeches, they voted on the best speech based on its content, delivery, and the strength of the appeal.  Dillon Draper, who spoke on behalf of the American Red Cross, won the most votes from his classmates. The total class donation to the American Red Cross totalled $156. 

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