How to Speak Effectively in Any Setting

Learn how to be both confident and competent in your public speaking.
How to Speak Effectively in Any Setting is rated 4.8 out of 5 by 17.
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Rated 5 out of 5 by from Excellent presenter!! Molly is both instructional and inspirational! Her method of presentation is excellent with very pertinent examples to explain her point. She is very expressive and shows a sincere desire for you, the student, to succeed in whatever speaking project you have to do. Highly recommended!! :-)
Date published: 2021-08-31
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Overall good but errors in Module 5 are of concern Overall great info, but Edward Bernays as innocent advertising maven and not U.S. Government propaganda master is historically inaccurate at best. I'm sure he was upset that Goebbels used his techniques, but he learned the techniques selling World War 1 to the US Public. I would suggest the professor listen to this module again with a colleague in WW1 history and might consider revisions.
Date published: 2021-07-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best course ever on effective communication skills If you are looking for a course on effective communication skills, this is the one for you. I have tried several others which are either too superficial or get lost in psychological and neurological detail. This course, in contrast, is practical. The presenter is interesting and covers all aspects of communication including conversation, negotiation, and public speaking. I loved how she based her teaching on Aristotle. I wish that I had been taught this approach to rhetoric years ago. Definitely a 5 star course. I have watched it twice and I am certain to return to it many times in the future.
Date published: 2021-06-24
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Overwhelmed The program was engaging and helpful precisely what I was looking for.
Date published: 2021-06-19
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Incredible class! This teacher is fantastic! She is engaging, thorough, and helpful. I wish I had learned these things years ago. This class is very practical and will be useful for anyone to take. This is one of the best classes we have taken with Great Courses Plus. Definitely a 5 star rating.
Date published: 2021-06-11
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Science-based teaching. Wonderful! I'm a clinical psychologist/professor, and very much enjoyed this course. The connection to Aristotle and field of rhetoric was lovely. The content and details presented are very useful. Additionally, the professor's teaching methods align with what I know to be scientifically-based ways of developing skills and managing emotions. The discussion of mindfulness, breathing, knowledge/preparation/practice/feedback, and what/how to think constructively, are consistent with evidence-based clinical psychology and the study of how we excel in situations that matter. Many thanks!
Date published: 2021-05-28
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Fantastic skills to make you a better presenter Ms Shadel is a fantastic and engaging presenter. This course helped me modify my presentation for a large work conference and helped me to feel very confident in what I was presenting and her tips certainly made my speak much more engaging than it would have been. I will use this series as a refresher any time I am putting together a lecture.
Date published: 2021-05-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Informative The teacher is wonderful. She explains things without assuming a base knowledge in her audience, something I appreciate. There are guidelines for different speeches and how to form your thoughts and ideas into words that will be impactful. There was nothing I wanted to skim through or skip.
Date published: 2021-05-12
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The power of an effective speech is undeniable. It has the capacity to engage, inform, motivate, and create change in an audience, and in the world. In How to Speak Effectively in Any Setting, a 24-lesson course with Molly Bishop Shadel, Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, learn the fine art of speaking clearly, effectively, and persuasively in contexts across the spectrum, from the board room to the bar room and everywhere in between. Professor Shadel teaches you the underpinnings of effective speech writing and skilled delivery in settings both personal and professional, giving you the tools you need to appear both confident and competent in all your public speech.


Molly Bishop Shadel
Molly Bishop Shadel

Being able to speak well is an empowering and valuable skill in any walk of life.  It can help you land a job; it can help you impress and persuade people; it can help you help others.


University of Virginia School of Law

Molly Bishop Shadel is a Professor of Law at the University of Virginia School of Law, where she teaches negotiations and advocacy classes and is a senior fellow at the Center for National Security Law. She graduated magna cum laude from Harvard University with an A.B. in English and American Literature and Language. Professor Shadel earned her J.D. from Columbia University.

Professor Shadel clerked for the Honorable Eugene H. Nickerson of the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of New York. Before joining the faculty of the University of Virginia, Professor Shadel worked as an attorney at the law firm of Covington & Burling, and then at the U.S. Department of Justice's Office of Intelligence Policy and Review. Professor Shadel joined the faculty at the University of Virginia School of Law in 2005.

Professor Shadel is the author of two books: Finding Your Voice in Law School: Mastering Classroom Cold Calls, Job Interviews, and Other Verbal Challenges and Tongue-Tied America: Reviving the Art of Verbal Persuasion. Professor Shadel is also a planning faculty member of the Leadership in Academic Matters program, a biannual, semester-long leadership course for University of Virginia professors and administrators.

By This Professor

Law School for Everyone
How to Speak Effectively in Any Setting
How to Speak Effectively in Any Setting


Establishing Your Credibility as a Speaker

01: Establishing Your Credibility as a Speaker

Follow along with Professor Molly Bishop Shadel as she details the highlights of this vital series, focusing in this lesson on ethos—“good sense, good moral character, and good will.” Learn how you, as other great speakers have throughout history, can use each aspect of ethos to generate trust, understanding, and support from audiences.

32 min
How to Engage an Audience’s Emotions

02: How to Engage an Audience’s Emotions

Think of your favorite speech from a movie or play. How does it make you feel? Here, Professor Shadel connects audience emotional response to speech success through pathos. In short, she helps you consider your audience by building a relationship, creating a receptive frame of mind, and avoiding the negative emotions that can undermine your success.

29 min
Speaking with Clear Logic

03: Speaking with Clear Logic

Most humans are single-path thinkers with relatively limited attention spans. Follow along as Professor Shadel concisely addresses the role of logos, or logic, in effective speech organization and delivery. From first impression to final comments, learn to engage your audience, keep the audience focused, and make your argument clearly and succinctly.

31 min
Logical Fallacies and How to Disarm Them

04: Logical Fallacies and How to Disarm Them

Flaws in reasoning, also known as logical fallacies, can derail your arguments by undermining your credibility and the integrity of your position. By learning the specifics of more than a dozen types of logical fallacies, you can become a more effective speaker and a more discerning consumer of information.

31 min
Avoiding the Pitfalls of Propaganda

05: Avoiding the Pitfalls of Propaganda

Aristotle persuaded his audiences through good character, stirring emotional appeal, and sound logic. He also understood that skill in public speaking could be used to stir up fear and discord. In this lesson, learn more about how propaganda—deliberately false or misleading rhetoric—operates, and how it can be disarmed.

29 min
How to Write for Public Speaking

06: How to Write for Public Speaking

Writing for public speaking is different than writing that is composed to be read rather than spoken. Readers control the environment and the pace; listeners do not. Unpack the common pitfalls and opportunities in writing for speaking and construct a speech of your own that establishes credibility and amicability, grabs your audience’s attention, and makes clear your central premise.

30 min
Analyzing and Rehearsing Your Speech

07: Analyzing and Rehearsing Your Speech

Once you have written an outstanding speech, how do you present it in a way that brings your words alive? Take advantage of expert guidance as Professor Shadel walks you through the process of organization, revision, and practice. Explore a variety of techniques used by actors as you also prepare to take the stage.

25 min
Using Body Language in Public Speaking

08: Using Body Language in Public Speaking

Break problematic physical and vocal habits and practice delivering your speech with confidence. Delve into the specifics of stance, movement, blocking, power posing, and assertive posturing. Body language and tone can help communicate far more to our audience than words alone. Convey confidence and competence when you speak, and people will believe the message you wish to convey.

25 min
Eye Contact and Pacing in Performance

09: Eye Contact and Pacing in Performance

Lean in as Professor Shadel leads you through a series of rehearsal exercises designed to hone your performance, establish your credibility, and create connection with your audience. Learn how rhythm, tone, and cadence affect the meaning of your words. Finally, discover the importance of settings, lighting, and costume in bringing your speech to life.

26 min
Finding Your Best Voice for Public Speaking

10: Finding Your Best Voice for Public Speaking

Many people know that the human voice can be a powerful tool; far fewer realize that it can be trained to develop projection, enunciation, and articulation. With a series of physical stretches, diaphragmatic breath exercises, and tricks to support volume and vocalization, investigate ways to stay calm, collected, clear-headed, and heard by your audience.

31 min
Managing Stage Fright

11: Managing Stage Fright

Most of us have experienced anxiety about public speaking at some point, even people who speak for a living. Delve into the role of the amygdala in fear response, and the pre-frontal cortex in overcoming that fear. With a series of easy exercises, walk step by step through the feeling of panic and beyond it to improved outcomes.

28 min
Speaking with Props or Visual Aids

12: Speaking with Props or Visual Aids

Visual aids can be the difference between a good speech and a great one. With them, your logic can be clear, your presentation exciting, and your audience attentive. Learn how to design effective visual aids and to deploy them skillfully to prove a point, visualize a situation, or make an impact.

27 min
Making a Celebratory Speech

13: Making a Celebratory Speech

Pivot from public speaking basics to the first of several specific speech contexts. Prepare now to speak publicly at some of the most important celebratory occasions: weddings, graduations, retirement parties, and other rites of passage. With great writers and rhetoricians as your guides, learn to craft your own epideictic speeches.

28 min
Giving a Eulogy

14: Giving a Eulogy

Few speeches are more important—or challenging—than the funeral address. Many of us will be called upon at some point to offer a few words in celebration of the life of a loved one. Continue your study of powerful presentations with an exploration of the purpose and process behind an outstanding eulogy.

26 min
Speaking Skills for Social Settings

15: Speaking Skills for Social Settings

Have you ever avoided a social event because you were anxious, afraid you would say the wrong thing or even freeze up and say nothing at all? Discover how to make a great first impression. Then unpack the particulars of how to tell a good story and how to prepare your audience for being effective listeners.

27 min
Communicating Successfully at Work

16: Communicating Successfully at Work

Often, communication at work focuses on persuasion, rather than the ceremonial discourse common in social settings. Here, investigate best practices for effective workplace communication through strategic selection of position, audience, environment, and approach. Finally, learn how to build critical relationships and foster a positive workplace reputation, supporting all types of communication.

27 min
Making a Powerful Business Presentation

17: Making a Powerful Business Presentation

In this second lesson on business communication, focus on business presentations that are more formal. Learn how to pitch your product, attract a potential client, impress your board of directors, and convince your colleagues, all by employing the same theory of ethos, pathos, and logos that have made you successful in other speech settings.

27 min
How to Handle a Media Interview

18: How to Handle a Media Interview

Are you certain that you could handle a media interview effectively? Professor Shadel teaches you how to share your expertise with the media in ways that emphasize competence and credibility. Discover how best to establish your theme, choose quotable verbiage, set ground rules, dress appropriately, and project confidence.

27 min
Negotiating without Fear

19: Negotiating without Fear

Everyone negotiates, but not everyone does it well. Employ the wisdom of the courtroom to help you prepare, think creatively, and keep a clear head as you practice the strategies necessary to negotiate with skill and verve. By asking good questions and keeping an open mind, you can create win-win outcomes for yourself and for others.

28 min
Giving Helpful Verbal Feedback

20: Giving Helpful Verbal Feedback

There is an art in managing people, especially in giving effective feedback. It isn’t always easy, especially if it is negative or unexpected feedback. Fortunately, here, you will discover how to apply many of your new skills in public speaking to feedback situations, changing the dynamic of the listener from resistance and anxiety to one of accepting development and support.

29 min
Speaking Effectively in the Classroom

21: Speaking Effectively in the Classroom

Calling all teachers! Whether you are a seasoned professional educator, or simply appearing as a guest speaker, you want to make the most of your time in the classroom. Examine the role of negative self-talk and change the narrative. Consider the best ways to focus on your contributions and connect with your students.

28 min
Making a Persuasive Political Argument

22: Making a Persuasive Political Argument

Even under the best of circumstances, political discussions can often prove caustic and divisive. Using the wisdom and strategy of that master communicator, Mister Rogers, you can deploy ethos, logos, and pathos to help your audience see the logic of your position, diffuse anger, and create a path to better understanding.

33 min
How to Argue in Court

23: How to Argue in Court

Most of us are not lawyers, but understanding legal argument makes us better informed and more prepared as citizens. Professor Shadel explains the history and the function of federal and state courts, criminal and civil. In easy-to-understand terms, she reviews jurisdictions and rules, helping you prepare a clear legal argument sufficient for any courtroom.

28 min
Assembling the Elements of a Winning Speech

24: Assembling the Elements of a Winning Speech

Finally, put it all together and finish this remarkable series with a critical review of key concepts that will remind you of what is both important and effective in public speaking. You will be able to employ a new understanding of context, occasion, purpose, and audience in order to craft and deliver discourse for any occasion and every situation.

26 min