Course Information

6.S081 Course Information Handout

The course information handout for 6.S082 is not available yet.

** Everything on this webpage is tentative and subject to change until first day of class **
Last Updated: Aug 22, 2013

6.S081 is a 3-unit course (less than 6 hours of work per week for half the semester) that gives students a hands-on introduction to public speaking. Students participate in activities ranging from impromptu expression, to speeches, to basic group presentations. Students learn how to prepare and deliver material, and develop confidence in their speaking ability through weekly practice in class, rehearsals in individual tutorials, live feedback from staff and peers, and self-observation of videotaped work. This course is especially suitable for those who are petrified of and/or new to public speaking. Enrollment is limited, and there are no prerequisites for the course.


  1. Course Objectives
  2. Format
  3. Expectations
  4. Text and Materials
  5. Attendance Policy
  6. Grading Policy

Course Learning Objectives

This course will (1) encourage you to think about effective public speaking, and (2) equip you with the basic speaking skills that they will need in their other coursework at MIT. We will provide you with opportunities to practice your skills and create mechanisms for feedback to help you strengthen them.

Upon completion of the course, students will have learned how to:

Given the short amount of time we have together, you won't necessarily "present like Steve Jobs" at the end of the course, but you will be equipped with the basic oral communication skills that you'll be able to (1) use in the speaking assignments that you'll encounter as part of your coursework/internships, and (2) build upon in the various CI-H and CI-M courses at MIT.

Course Format

The course consists of 7 class sessions, 6 individual tutorials and various assignments.

Class sessions are on Wednesdays from 7-10pm. During this time, there are short lectures, demonstrations, impromptu activities and small group practice sessions led by a tutor.

Every week, students work on some assignment, and are expected to meet with their tutor for a 20 minute session (scheduled individually with the tutor) to go over what they have done for the assignment - e.g. show the outline for and give a dryrun of the speech they have prepared and practiced beforehand. Students receive tutorial credit if they come prepared; else no tutorial credit is awarded.

Assignments for this course are primarily oral in nature, with one short paper due at the end of the course. Oral assignments consists of three speeches (one of which must be revised), and one group presentation. Students prepare and practice these outside of class, do a dryrun for their tutor during tutorial, and then give the speech/talk in front of their small group during a small group practice session. The written assignment is a short paper about what you've learned and how you've progressed/improved as evidenced by self-perception, others' perceptions and videos of your various speaking opportunities. All assignments must be completed to pass the course.

Be forewarned that this course can be a lot of work for some students -- particularly if writing/presenting is not your forte.

Course Expectations

You are expected to conduct yourself in a manner that is professional and to manage your time accordingly.

As discussed above, students should arrive to tutorial prepared, and on-time.

Punctuality to class is also important - if you arrive late, you will be singing everyone a song...

As you will all be learning from each other, you are also expected to provide your fellow students with clear, respectful, honest, concrete and sensitive feedback.

Please refrain from using your laptop, cell phones, ipods, smart phones, electronic gadgets, etc. during class. It is distracting.

You are expected to participate in all activities, especially the impromptu ones - they are fun!

Your work should be your own. You should acknowledge your sources and cite references when appropriate. Inappropriate behavior (e.g. plagiarism, cheating) will result in a failing grade for the assignment and could lead to further disciplinary action.

Text and Materials

There is currently no required textbook for this course.

You and a partner will eventually need access to PowerPoint, Keynote or some slide creation software. Computers in the New Media Center(26-139) have PowerPoint and Keynote for student use (type "tellme nmccombo" on athena for combo).

Attendance Policy

Since there are only seven class meetings, and each meeting involves hands-on work, we expect you to come to class, pay attention and participate. Attendance is especially important for a class of this nature; unlike other technical classes at MIT, you cannot simply learn the material from reading a textbook and completing the assignments alone.

Absences from class can only be excused by a note from the Counseling Deans(S^3). Email your tutor when you are absent, ideally beforehand if you know ahead of time, so they won't worry about you. Your attendance record is available online for you to check. It is important that your attendance record is correct because at the end of the term, your final grade will drop one letter grade for each unexcused absence.

Tutorial attendace is also required because preparation for tutorial, feedback from your tutor, and subsequent revision help you improve. At most one tutorial session may be rescheduled, and this should be done at least 24 hours before your original tutorial slot. Your tutor is not obligated to reschedule - they will try to accommodate you, but they have their own classes and workload as well. Unless you have a note from S^3, a no-show for tutorial (i.e. your tutor was expecting you because they didn't hear otherwise from you beforehand, but you didn't show up) results in a 0 for that week's tutorial. Two no-show's will lower your final grade by one letter.

If you have subject with an evening exam, that subject is required to offer a make-up exam in the event of a conflict with a regularly scheduled class.

In any event, let us know about potential absences, and we'll try to figure something out.

Grading Policy

All students have the potential to get an A in the course; however, we have high standards. In the interest of fairness, all students are given the same opportunity to excel, and all students are graded based on the same criteria.

The weighing of assignments is as follows:

Written Assignments:					
     Reflections		10%

Oral Assignments:	
     Narrative  Speech		10%
     Informative Speech         15%
     Persuasive Speech          25%
     Group Presentation         20%

     Tutorial Grade		20%


Computation of the Final Grade

Each assignment will receive a grade from 0-4. At the end of the term, a weighted raw score is computed based upon the scores you received on your assignments. This raw score is a indicator of the quality of your written and oral work, and it serves as a basis for determining your final grade. You'd like a 3.5 or higher to achieve an A in this course.

Other factors that may both positively and negatively affect your grade, particularly for borderline cases include:

participation,  punctuality, responsibility, attitude, 
professional conduct, ability to follow directions, 
creativity in assignments, improvement and effort.

Note that the teaching staff further reserves the right to grade on a curve and to make adjustments for special cases.

Requests for Final Grade Re-evaluation

At the end of the semester, requests for final grade reconsideration should be stated in writing, and sent to your recitation instructor and to tleng@mit.edu by the end of finals week.

Have a good semester!