Short, Persuasive Presentation


Lego character giving a speechYou’ve been reading about your topic and planning your persuasive project on the topic. But you haven’t yet had to present that argument in a carefully planned, formal way. We’ve also discussed rhetoric from a variety of angles, always remembering that the roots of rhetoric are in oral communication, even though we haven’t formally practiced the verbal aspects of rhetoric.

This small project, then, fills both of those gaps. That is, it gives you a chance to try out the persuasiveness of your final project, and it gives us all a chance to consider how verbal rhetoric compares and contrasts with the other modalities in which rhetorical communication can be practiced.

As with your proposal, your challenge is to make a focused, clear, rehearsed argument even when there isn’t much time to do so. What will persuade your classmates in such a short amount of time? What blend of ethos, pathos, and logos will you use to persuade them? How will you organize your presentation?


Give a three-to-five-minute presentation to the class that attempts to persuade your classmates to change their attitudes or actions on the topic of your final project.

You may not use any visual aids. This is to encourage you to focus on your delivery (how you look and sound), your quality of ideas (how well you develop and support your argument for an audience of your classmates), and your organization (how you structure the order of your argument, including how you begin and end).

You may use written notes, but you may not read multiple sentences in a row directly from your notes. In other words, even though your presentation will be carefully planned, it must be unscripted.


This presentation counts as 5% of your final grade in the class.

I’ll assess your presentation’s delivery, quality of ideas, and organization. Your final presentation grade will be the average of these three grades. Any presentations that last fewer than three minutes or more than five minutes will lose additional points.

Due Date

Presentations will given during the last week of class: on December 2, 4, and 6.

To determine who will present on which day, I’ll get information from you in class on Friday, November 22, allowing you to say if you prefer going in the beginning, middle, or end. I’ll use that information to make an ordered list.

Image: southtyrolean, “orator

In-Class Essay Assignment

As you know, you’ll write an essay in class on Wednesday, November 20. Here’s the assignment sheet that I’ll give you on that day.

You’ll write this essay by hand (so bring paper and pens!) with no notes or sources in front of you.

Practice Wix Assignment


This assignment is designed as a low-stakes way to practice three things:

  1. Using
  2. Citing images, audio, and video sources formally
  3. Finding and deploying images licensed by Creative Commons


Create a new site at that includes, at a minimum, the following things:

  1. 3 pages, which must have the following titles: “Introduction,” “Media,” and “Credits”
  2. On your introduction page, add a text box explaining that this is a practice site, and add one image licensed by Creative Commons.
  3. On your media page, include each of these items:
    1. Another image licensed by Creative Commons
    2. An embedded video from
    3. An embedded sound from
  4. On your credits page, include a text box with formal citations of your images, video, and sound using MLA or APA style, plus one more image licensed by Creative Commons.

The images, sounds, and videos you include may be related to your final project, but they don’t have to. Right now, I’m most interested in your technical abilities, not the objects you choose.

If you like, you may include other things on your pages. Feel free to be creative and play around.

If you like, you can think of this practice site as the first steps on your final project. For instance, your final project can look the same as this practice site, with the same design and fonts and images. (You can always make a copy of your practice site and use that copy as the basis of your final project: log into Wix, click “My Account” at the top of the page, click “Manage and Edit Site” next to your practice site, then click “Duplicate Site.”)

Due Date and Submission

Before class begins on Friday, November 22, add a post to your blog that links to your practice Wix site. Be sure to write at least one sentence on your blog post explaining to readers what they will find when they click the link.


This is a practice assignment. Therefore, any submission that follows the requirements listed above will receive a 20/20 in the Small Assignments category. If you include all the requirements but make 1 to 3 small mistakes (e.g. you only include 2 images or make a mistake on your citations), you can still receive a 17/20. If you make many small mistakes (evidence of quick or shoddy work), you’ll receive no more than a 13/20.

Copyright Concerns

People often ask me how we’ll handle copyright concerns when we publish websites on Wix. Here are the copyright guidelines you should follow, both for this assignment and for the final project:


  • If you make images yourself from scratch (a painting, a photo you took): no citation necessary, no copyright notice necessary
  • If you use a copyrighted image in any way (a screenshot, something from Google Images, something you blended with other images in Photoshop): cite it on your credits page, and write a fair use statement
  • If you use an image licensed by Creative Commons (probably from, using their advanced search): cite it on your credits page, but don’t write a fair use statement


  • If you find something on that someone else uploaded (i.e. it’s not linked to your account) and you want to embed it on your site: cite it, but no copyright notice necessary
  • If you make a sound and host it on your own Soundcloud account, follow these steps:
    • If you record yourself talking or playing an instrument and include no other sounds: no citation necessary, no copyright notice necessary
    • If you create a new sound that uses copyrighted sounds in any way (music, sound effects): cite it on your credits page, and write a fair use statement
    • If you create a new sound that uses sounds that were created by you or licensed by Creative Commons (perhaps from,, or Soundcloud): cite it on your credits page, but don’t write a fair use statement


  • If you find something on YouTube that someone else uploaded (i.e. it’s not linked to your account) and you want to embed it on your site: cite it, but no copyright notice necessary
  • If you make a video and host it on your own YouTube account, follow these steps:
    • If you record yourself talking or playing an instrument and include no other sounds or clips: no citation necessary, no copyright notice necessary
    • If you create a new video that uses copyrighted video clips or sounds in any way: cite it on your credits page, and write a fair use statement
    • If you create a new video that uses video clips or sounds that were all created by you or licensed by Creative Commons: cite it on your credits page, but don’t write a fair use statement


  • To find images licensed by Creative Commons, I suggest you start at, which will send you to various sites that allow you to search for only CC-licensed content. It’s also okay to start at and use their advanced search to search only for Creative Commons images.
  • Citation help: citing multimedia objects is hard! I’ll update this space later with Here are the best practices for citing images, audio, and video using MLA and APA format.
    • MLA
      • Use the standard format for citing a website, but include a note about what kind of file it is immediately after the title. Some examples:
      • Citing this YouTube video:
        • Code for America. “CfA Summit 2013 | Clay Shirky | Keynote.” Online video. YouTube. YouTube, 15 Oct. 2013. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
      • Citing this audio clip from SoundCloud:
        • Bristol Festival of Ideas. “Clay Shirky 30 June 2010.” Online audio. SoundCloud. SoundCloud, n.d. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
      • Citing this image from Flickr:
        • Les Rencontres RSLN. “Clay Shirky @ Rencontres RSLN.” Photograph. Flickr. Yahoo!, 31 Jan. 2011. Web. 15 Nov. 2013.
    • APA
  • If you’re having trouble using Wix, check out some of their support, which is really good. If you’d like to watch me create a draft of this assignment, which is up at this page, you can watch this video (embedded below). I know it’s long, but I wanted the video to answer possible problems and questions you might have. Warning: this video and site reflect an earlier version of this assignment, so not everything I say will apply to you; follow the assignment guidelines listed on this page, not those mentioned in the video. 

Research Proposal Assignment


As you know, we’re building up toward a final project in which you will make an argument about a focused topic related to digital technology and rhetorical communication. You’ve already started to do some thinking about what your topic might be, but now it’s time to formalize your plans one step further. That is, it’s time to convince me that your topic is appropriate and that you’re on the right track.


Write a brief proposal that describes your research topic, describes the specific claim you want to make about that topic (as far as you know it at this point), and convinces me that your chosen topic is strong. By “strong,” I mean a topic on which you can find lots of sources and on which you have something unique to offer.

Write your proposal as a new post on your blog. Your post should have exactly two or three paragraphs, no more or less.

You may find it helpful to write one paragraph that establishes the importance of the topic by describing what some of your key sources say about the topic, followed by one more paragraph describing the unique contribution and argument you intend to bring to this topic.


This is a 40-point grade in the Small Assignments category (twice as important as a reading response post). I’ll assign your proposal a grade based on the following characteristics:

  • Convincingly demonstrates that this is an important topic
  • Convincingly demonstrates that you have something unique to add to the conversation
  • Strong, edited sentences free of error

Due Date

Post your proposal to your blog before class begins on Friday, October 25.


Before writing the proposal, be sure first to consider if your topic is arguable and worth discussing. (By “arguable,” I mean it’s something reasonable people disagree on. For example, it’s not really arguable that a new medical technology should be used to help sick people get better, since everyone wants sick people to get better. No one would disagree with you.) Here are a few other characteristics of strong topics:

  • Sources: Strong topics have been written about a lot—in popular magazines, newspapers, and books as well as academic books and journal articles. Feel free to mention some of these sources in your proposal, a move that will prove to me that you can find the good stuff out there.
  • New perspective: Make sure you pick a topic that you have a lot to say about. I want you to add something unique to the conversation! If your topic is strong, you should be able to find a lot written about the topic but still feel confidant that you have an angle that no one else has written about in the way you’re imagining.
    • If you’re struggling with this, one way to add something new is to add a personal perspective.
    • Another way: presenting the argument in a new way for online audiences (infographics, audio, video, etc.).
  • Chance for convincing audiences: Strong topics are those on which you can conceivably convince audiences to change their attitudes or actions in a researched webtext. If you feel unqualified to convince the main actors who control a situation, perhaps you want your piece to raise up public support for your point of view in hopes that a crowd can lead to actual change. Some examples:
    • No chance to convince actual audiences: “I want to convince people to stop using their cell phones while driving! It’s killing people!”
    • Possible chance to convince actual audiences: “While I recognize that I can’t convince people to stop using their phones in the car, I do think that there are a number of small steps that everyday citizens can take to use phones more safely–steps that research shows will be likely to be shared on social media with the possibility of going viral. These include _________.”
    • No chance to convince actual audiences: “Online comments are often mean and bigoted! People need to stop being jerks online!”
    • Possible chance to convince actual audiences: “While I recognize that I can’t convince people to stop being jerks online, I have found that research suggests that people overwhelmingly want to be kind to strangers in face-to-face settings. To help bring basic civility to online discussions, I want to suggest some ways that this research applications can be applied to online settings. These include _______________.”
  • Personal: Strong topics are close to you; you encounter them daily and think about them daily. You know a lot about them and care about them because they affect you.

Audio Version of RA1


James Paul Gee defines multimodal texts as “texts that mix words and images” (17). But I think we can extend his definition and say that a multimodal text is any text that uses more than one modality, including words and images but also including audio and video (and more!).

Clearly, composing content online makes it easy to compose multimodal texts. For example, because this blog is online, I can post both words and videos together to make my points, like in this post. My choice of how I choose to format my message is part of my rhetorical strategy.

Your final project in this class will be multimodal. Therefore, it’s important that we practice using different modalities to prepare you for that project. In this brief assignment, the modality you’ll practice using is audio. As we’ll talk about in class on Monday, September 9, you’ll consider how an alphabetic text can be effectively turned into an audio text.


Record an audio version of you (or someone else) reading a revised version of your Rhetorical Analysis 1 essay. This recording must not be longer than 2 minutes, but it should still communicate the basic point of your essay: describe the strategies made by an author who was using online text to persuade an audience of something. (Rhetorical scholars call this process of changing the media or modality of a text remediation.)

Record your audio essay for an audience who has not read the text version of your rhetorical analysis. That is, you’ll have to introduce the essay you’re analyzing; you can’t assume your audience already knows what you’re talking about.

You may read directly from parts of your essay, or you may completely rewrite your script to better fit the needs of your listening audience. I won’t be asking for a script, so if you’d rather record without writing out each exact word you’ll say, that’s okay too. (If you go this route, I do recommend having a detailed outline prepared so you can transition neatly from one topic to another.)

You’ll also write a brief Statement of Goals and Choices, in which you’ll informally explain the goals you had in mind for this audio version and what choices you made to make it effective.


This assignment will count as a 30-point grade in the Small Assignments category (1.5 times a reading response blog post).

I will not be judging your ability to expertly record professional audio. That is, it won’t bother me if your voice recording sounds scratchy or if you make other small mistakes. We’re practicing.

What I do expect is evidence of purposeful decisions. At every step, consider why you’re making the choices you’re making and what effect you want them to have. Ask yourself, “How is a listening audience different from a reading audience?” If it sounds like you quickly threw everything together or didn’t know why you made a decision, your grade will suffer.

Your Statement of Goals and Choices is crucial, then: it allows me to see into your creative process and assess your work accordingly. Please put a lot of effort into it–it’s the best way to bump up your grade!


To turn in this assignment, you’ll make a single WordPress post that includes 2 things: an embedded audio file and a written Statement of Goals and Choices. It will look something like this:

UPDATE: I’ve made a video showing all these steps in order. If you just want to watch the directions you want, you can browse through it like this:

  • Entire video
  • Starting at the easiest way to record audio (#1 below): 0:26
  • Starting at the second easiest way to record audio (#2 below): 2:52
  • Starting at the advanced way to record audio (#3 below): 5:53
  • Starting at embedding audio in Soundcloud (even further down below): 8:32

Recording Audio

To embed your audio file, you’ll first need to get your audio file into (Think of Soundcloud as like the audio version of YouTube.) Therefore, you need to create a free account at Soundcloud. Once you have an account, there are a few easy ways to get an audio file into Soundcloud:

  1. Easiest way to record audio: Record yourself talking directly into Soundcloud. Log in, click “Upload,” then click “Start new recording.” Benefit: You don’t have to worry about recording a sound file and then uploading it. Everything is done on one site. Downside: You can’t edit your recording, so you need to get it right in one try. You have as many tries as you’d like, but you can’t cut out any parts where you may have messed up. You also need to have a computer with a built-in microphone or a microphone you can plug in.
  2. Second easiest way to record audio: Use your phone or a simple audio recording program (like Sound Recorder on Windows computers) to record your audio essay. This will give you a sound file (probably a .wav file), which you can then upload to Soundcloud. (Log in, click “upload,” and then “choose files to upload.”) Benefit: If you use a phone to record your essay, you’re not tied to a computer while you record. If you’re recording to the computer, you can save multiple drafts and decide which you like best. Downside: On a phone, you need to know how to find your recording and get that file onto Soundcloud, either through their app or by transferring the file to a computer. And you still can’t edit your recording.
  3. Advanced way to record audio: Use a free audio editing program like Soundation (entirely online) or Audacity (a program you install on your own computer or use in the Starr labs). Once you’ve edited your file to be exactly as you want it, you can export your file as a .wav or .ogg file, and then upload that file to Soundcoud. Benefit: You have the most control this way, plus lots of ways to make your audio sound better. You can also take the best parts from multiple takes and blend them into a single file, and you can delete awkward moments where you forgot your words or coughed. Downside: If you’ve never done audio or video editing before, these can take a bit of practice to get used to. You can absolutely do it (I’ve had students successfully use Audacity many times!), but it might take some practice.

Embedding Audio from Soundcloud into WordPress

Once your audio file is stored in your Soundcloud account, it’s easy to embed that file into a new WordPress post. Follow these steps:

1. Copy the embed code of your newly uploaded file, which you’ll paste into a WordPress post in a moment. To copy the embed code, find your uploaded file in Soundcloud, click the “share” button beneath it, and highlight the text in the “Wordpress code” area (not the text in any of the other fields). Then copy that text the same way you would copy text from any other website.

2. Create a new blog post on WordPress. Give it a descriptive title so we all know that this will be your audio post. (It’s fine to call it “Audio Version of Rhetorical Analysis” or something more fun. Up to you.)

3. Paste the embed code from Soundcloud into your post on WordPress at point where you want the audio file to appear. The code will look a little messy when you paste it in, but that’s ok. Once you preview or publish the post, it should look like my example post, with a big play button.