Cause-Effect Speech Assignment

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Cause-Effect Speech Assignment Sheet

Format: A 5-6-minute speech delivered extemporaneously from limited notes, a printed full speech outline including a bibliography with at least 3 acceptable sources, and a limited visual aid

Points: 150 (15% of Final grade). 110 for speech, 40 for outlines

Purpose: This is one of our formal graded speeches this semester, and the cause-effect speech practices one of the most difficult but important skills in public speaking and argumentation. This speech aims to help you practice and develop causal reasoning and synthesizing a complex issue by choosing a topic you are interested in/passionate about and showing your audience a piece of the “chain of causality.” We will work specifically on the delivery skills of working with visual aids, projection, and vocal variety with this speech. We will integrate more rigorous research and the sorts of evidence that will help you build your credibility with an audience.

Cause-Effect Speech Task:

Your goal is to develop a 5-6 minute speech that compellingly and clearly argues that one trend/event has happened (or will happen) and that as a result of it another event/trend has happened or will happen. You should approach this speech in a few different steps. First, choose your topic. It should be something you are interested in and connects with your interests/focus in your studies.

Do some initial “rummaging” research, where you learn the major parts of this topic and lay out pieces of the “chain of causality.” Second, you will want to supplement this by conducting additional research using books, periodicals, newspaper articles, and government websites where relevant. Third, you should develop your two-three main points. Fourth, you should place the research wherever it needs to go in the outline. Finally, practice your speech, and build your visual aid!


  • The speech should be between 5-6 minutes in length. Speeches that exceed or fail to meet this requirement (other than a 30 second grace period) will be subject to a grade penalty
  • The speech must cite three acceptable sources (not webpages unless specifically cleared) in the form of books, journal articles or periodicals, newspapers, or government websites. Those must be cited orally in the speech itself and be cited in the body of the outline
  • The speech will go through multiple rounds of revision. You will create and bring a fully-drafted outline to class on 3/13, which will be worth points as your “draft outline.” It will be reviewed by me and by a peer. You will integrate that feedback to revise it into a “final outline” which you will turn in with your final speech.
  • The speech mustnot attempt to persuade us to act differently. You are arguing that one event cause or will cause another, not taking the additional step of saying that therefore we should change how we’re doing things.
  • The speech should be delivered extemporaneously from a keyword outline rather than memorized, impromptu, or manuscript.

Other things to know:

Choose something you care about and can talk about. This is a great chance to learn new things about something that interests you.

TAKE THE TIME to do good research. The library has great resources to help you. I can help you, and we will even have a visit from a librarian. Let your research guide your speech—don’t create a full outline/argument and then go fishing for the research you need (sometimes it doesn’t exist!)

This speech is tricky but valuable. It takes time to develop and get right. Take the time.


Last Updated on March 21, 2020