#4: Oral Presentations

Your assignment is to work with a group of students in class to create a 5 to 7-minute oral presentation—much like a public service announcement (PSA) or a commercial—aimed at persuading college students at Virginia Tech to do something. You may want to persuade your classmates to vote, to exercise, or to join an intermural team. The list of potential topics is long and varied. If you are unsure about whether your topic is appropriate, please ask me before your group begins work on it.

You will create a slideshow presentation, using Google Presentation or PowerPoint. Your slideshow may incorporate photographs, drawings, illustrations, and video (see pp. 341-343 of WAVT). You must include a title screen in your project, and your names must appear somewhere in the finished piece. You must also include credits for all materials used (audio, images, data) that you did not create and for research material that you cite. However, in keeping with the nature of the project, you will credit your sources in the style of movie credits rather than traditional MLA citations.


To work on your rhetorical appeals

pp. 20-22 of WAVT

To plan your presentation

pp. 338-343 and 349-356 in WAVT

Assignment Details

Step 1. Select a topic

As a group, choose something concrete that you want to persuade students on the Virginia Tech campus to do. You may want to persuade your classmates to vote, to exercise, or to join an intermural team. The list of potential topics is long and varied. If you are unsure about whether your topic is appropriate, please ask me before your group begins work on it. Choose your topic by 11:59 PM on November 18 by posting a new conversation in the Forums under your group’s name.

Step 2. Compose group work statement

As a group, post a new conversation in the Forums under your group’s name that outlines the policies and details that will guide your group as you work on your presentation. The memo will serve as your group’s agreement on how you will work on this project. The memo should include the following information:

  • List of group members and the contact information that group members can use to contact one another.
  • Group responsibilities (division of labor) for the project. For instance, who will serve as the chair? Who is responsible for making sure work is posted? Responsibilities may evolve as the group works, but you should at least choose a chair who will keep the group on track.
  • Communication policies that account for how the group will deal with deadlines, questions, and absences.
  • Location for working drafts, notes, and other group work. I recommend you set up a shared folder on Google Docs. Please share your work space with tengrrl@vt.edu.
  • Tentative timeline for the work on the project. You’ll need to choose a date for the rough draft of your slideshow, a date for practicing your presentation, and so forth. Use the sections in Chapter 13 of WAVT to help determine what your group needs to accomplish.

Post your group work statement in the Forums by 11:59 PM on November 18.

Step 3. Analyze your audience and purpose

Use the information on pp. 339-340 in WAVT to analyze your purpose and audience for the presentation. Propose specific rhetorical appeals that you can use to accomplish your purpose. Using the information on pp. 20-22 in WAVT, brainstorm ideas for each of the three rhetorical appeals (ethos, pathos, and logos). Post your analysis by 11:59 PM on November 20. 

Step 4. Write a progress report

Write a progress report (no more than one page) that outlines (a) what your group has completed, (b) what work you still have to do, and (c) how you plan to complete the remaining work for the project. Outline any questions or concerns you have that may affect your group’s progress. Post your progress report in the Forums by noon (12 PM) on November 22. 

Step 5. Prepare and deliver an oral presentation

During one of the last two class sessions of the term, your group will deliver an oral presentation accompanied by electronic slides (e.g., Google Presentation, PowerPoint). Your presentation should be roughly 5–7 minutes in length, followed by 3–5 minutes of Q&A. Your presentation should involve all members of your group as equally as possible. In particular, everyone should have a speaking role and contribute to the presentation. Post a PPTX copy of your presentation in the Forums by 11:59 PM on the day of your group’s presentation. Sign-up for group presentation time slots will take place in class on November 20.

Evaluation and Class Attendance

The group presentation project is worth 20% of your course grade. This grade will be based on your group’s oral presentation, your individual participation, and your group assessment. The overall grade for the group project will be an individual grade. In other words, group members will be assessed individually. The members of the group probably will not all earn the same grade.

In-class writing from this point on in the class will typically be group work that you post in the Forums (e.g., your group work statement, your analysis). Work done in class during these final weeks cannot be made up. If your work is not posted on time, all group members will receive a zero. If you are not in class on the day work is due, you will receive a zero while group members who are present will receive the points they earn.

Attendance from this point on in the course is crucial. You will have time during class the rest of the term to work on this project. I expect you to attend every class session, to be on time, and to work the entire class period. Attendance and working diligently while in the classroom will figure into the individual participation portion of the group presentation grade.


This assignment is based on Sara Crickenberger’s “Digital Persuasion Project,” on page 228 of Writing at Virginia Tech and Quinn Warnick’s Team Research Proposal.

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