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University of California, Irvine

Speaking Skills for University Success

University of California, Irvine via Coursera


As a student in an English-speaking university, you’ll need to speak in many situations, both formal and informal, planned and spontaneous. In this course, you’ll get advice for speaking in many different situations. You’ll learn how to prepare for an academic discussion with classmates and how to lead a discussion effectively. You’ll learn about how to work smoothly in group projects—a popular type of assignment in many university classes—and what to say in small talk with classmates or others. You’ll learn how to give an unplanned, impromptu speech and also how to plan and deliver a formal presentation in class. Speaking in any of these situations can be a bit intimidating, but if you know what to do and practice whenever the opportunity arises, it will become easier, and you can become a more confident and successful speaker.


  • Successful Academic Discussions
    • In this first week of the course, we’ll be talking about academic discussions—the situations when you’ll be talking about an academic topic with a group of classmates. You’ll learn how to prepare for a discussion by gathering background knowledge and how to lead a discussion and encourage everyone to participate. You’ll also learn how to help your discussion go smoothly and how to handle disagreements, which are bound to arise in any discussion. Finally, you’ll practice by watching a video of an academic discussion and rating its strong and weak points. Let’s begin!
  • Informal Speaking
    • This week you’ll learn about several situations that require informal communication. First you’ll hear how you can work more smoothly in group projects, which have become a very common type of assignment in university work. You’ll learn about the importance of small talk—all those casual conversations with friends or strangers that lead to smoother communication—and learn which topics to talk about and which ones to avoid. You’ll hear some tips for times when you need to speak without having a chance to prepare, and record your impromptu speaking practice to share with other students. So let’s get started with informal speaking
  • Planning a Great Presentation
    • This week we’ll start thinking about presentations—those assignments when you’ll have time to prepare a speech and present it in front of a class. You’ll learn about the parts of a presentation and what elements should be included in each one. You’ll think about how to catch the listeners’ interest and introduce your main idea in the introduction, how to give more details to support your ideas in the body, and how to wrap it all up in a “fireworks” conclusion. You’ll practice by watching and evaluating a presentation on an academic topic. Let’s get ready to give a great presentation!
  • Delivering a Great Presentation
    • In this last week of the course, you’ll hear some advice about how to give the presentation that you’ve planned so carefully. You’ll hear some tips for how to rehearse your speech so that you can deliver it smoothly, and you’ll learn some basic principles for preparing attractive slides to go along with your speech and presenting them well. You’ll also hear some suggestions for speaking effectively by using both the power of your voice and effective body language. You’ll practice by playing around with the arrangement of elements on some slides, and you’ll analyze the presentation style of a speaker in a recorded speech. So let’s begin!

Taught by

Marla Yoshida


4.8 rating at Coursera based on 92 ratings

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