Fundamentally Resourceful: Students Deliver Speeches Via Video from Home

Apr 17, 2020

by FSC Staff

Under more normal circumstances, students in Dr. Katherine Loh’s Fundamentals of Speech course would be focused solely on the details of writing and delivering speeches live and in person in a classroom setting. However, when Florida Southern transitioned to remote learning for the rest of the spring semester in March, it became necessary for students to present their speeches from home, as video presentations.

Kat Loh
Assistant Professor of Communication Dr. Katherine Loh

“The students were not required to know digital production,” said Dr. Loh, an assistant professor of communication. “We went into online really fast. When I had my first class with them, I actually talked about trying to keep things low-tech, reminding them that the script is the most important thing and that they should not sweat the technical stuff.”

Students were to upload their speeches to YouTube and send the links to their instructor, forwarding any visual aids as email attachments. 

When Dr. Loh started receiving the links to her students’ YouTube videos, she was pleasantly surprised. “Several speeches came back with not only great scripts, but also really good production quality,” she said. “I could see editing, with PowerPoint slides being included in post-production. I was floored.”

“I am just so proud of my students, how they rose to the challenge and used their creativity and ingenuity to continue to deliver a great product.“


Can you tell us about a few students who went beyond your expectations?

Outdoor video

“Gabby Sumner, a sophomore accounting major, gave a speech about the 1893 Chicago World’s Fair. She informed me that, due to the pandemic, both of her parents are working from home, so she had to go outside to tape her speech. It started to rain toward the end of her speech, but Gabby kept her cool and finished her speech. I literally teared up. Gabby’s speech stood out for me in terms of how she worked around obstacles, kept her composure, and delivered a great speech.” See Gabby’s speech HERE.

“Emilyn Fiorentino is a freshman business administration major. Within the first 10 seconds of her speech about the process of violin making — when Emilyn pointed to the top right of the screen and her first slide popped out — I knew this was going to be another top-notch speech. Emilyn angled her computer to one side, making space to include her visual aids in post-production. Throughout her speech, she had many nonverbals, pointing at her slides. All these things together show a student who really put a lot of thought, planning, and effort into making this speech happen. If we had not transitioned to remote learning, none of the students would have needed to worry about taping their speeches; it is actually extra work. To see the quality of their efforts is just so rewarding, and a real testament to the quality of students who attend FSC.” See Emilyn’s speech HERE.

(Said Emilyn: “I really enjoyed uploading my speech about violin making to YouTube; I felt as though I was giving a speech to a much larger audience, as anyone on YouTube has the ability to view my video. I also had fun editing my speech video, which was a bonus. I had never edited a video before, so if I ever need to edit any footage again, I can feel confident in my ability to do so.”)
“Jessica Minier is a sophomore biology major. She researched and delivered a speech about her cultural heritage. Jessica’s speech not only adhered to all the required evaluative elements, but the effort she made in post-production to include her slides really made her speech stand out.” See Jessica’s speech HERE.
Little brother

“Robin Raisch is a freshman music major. I never imagine the things you see on the internet actually happening in my class. This is about as cute as one can get — when you are trying to tape your speech and your little brother is goofing around — reminding all of us that we must find opportunities to laugh and have fun.” See an excerpt from Robin’s speech HERE.

(Said Robin: “As a music performance major, I feel this class has boosted my confidence for talking in front of an audience and learning how to act more natural when giving a presentation with my peers. Dr. Loh’s online instruction has helped us learn our material efficiently, and joining Zoom was a clean process.”)

Comparing the remotely produced videos to classroom speeches, are you noticing any differences in the student presentations?

“From a content perspective, the speeches are spot-on. What a student has to do to get a speech ready for delivery does not change. They still have to do the research, write the script, edit the script, practice the speech. I think the only thing missing is the enthusiastic round of applause these students would have received from their classmates if they had delivered it live.”

“I thought about having ‘live’ delivery of speeches in the virtual classroom, but I was not going to risk adding to the speakers’ anxiety — in the event I ran into technical difficulties — so I stuck with my plan of the taped speech.”

“Judging by the speeches I received digitally, I can say that a majority of the students are comfortable delivering their speeches to a ‘live” audience and in front of the camera.””

What are the general goals for students in your Fundamentals of Speech course?

“COM 1500 is a general-education requirement course, as well as a required course in the communication major. A lot of our FSC students tend to select it. Since I get such a diverse set of majors besides communication majors, I focus on the core skills of public speaking, such as developing speaker confidence and an understanding that all great speeches start with our ability to tell great stories. In order to achieve this ‘gold standard’ of public speaking, students work on their writing, research, and audience analysis skills. These are skill sets that transfer across any major and discipline.”

Have you and your students experienced a smooth transition to the remote-learning environment?

“I have been using Zoom for several years, so I instinctively went to that platform as my choice to conduct all my virtual classes, including Intercultural Communication and the Honors 1701 course. Knowing that the pandemic is going to be a big stressor for my students, I want their learning experience with me to remain unchanged. So I’ve worked really hard to mirror, in the digital world, what I would do in the ‘live’ classroom as closely as possible.”

“I use the breakout-room function often. Students have my cell phone number, so text messaging is a constant. I also made sure that I diversified how I communicate with my students — using emails, blog posts in the portal, posting onto our department Facebook page — and I even made several short YouTube videos, just to keep things light and to put a smile on their faces. I think my favorite is on Zoom etiquette. I am not sure if it is because of this video or in spite of it, but somehow I am also the informal Zoom tech support for some FSC faculty, and I conducted a session for faculty on how to use Zoom right before we went to remote learning.”

How has the transition to remote learning impacted other aspects of your role at FSC?

“As the advisor for Lambda Pi Eta, the honor society for communication majors, our activities have been limited. I hope to be able to get back on campus soon so I can send out cords to the graduating seniors. As the NCAA faculty athletics representative for FSC, I have been busy keeping up with all the NCAA updates on eligibility, following up with student-athletes who may need an extra push on their school work, as well as some of our international athletes who simply can’t go home.”

“While we are all working remotely, we are still available to our students and our colleagues. I do miss being in my office, and I do miss lunch at Mister Fish with Dr. Trice and Dr. Mackie.”