USF’s Speaking Center


The Speaking Center at the University of San Francisco is available to help all USF students prepare for public speaking–including speeches, oral presentations, team presentations, and powerpoint demonstrations.

Coaches can help you with a variety of aspects of public speaking, including:

  • effective oral communication skills
  • achieving engaging delivery
  • using transitions effectively
  • developing concise and clear main points
  • crafting introductions and conclusions.

Coaches are trained, skilled, and experienced public speakers.

Drop in or schedule an appointment through Tutortrac.

Drop-In Hours:
Monday – Friday 11:00 am – 1:00 pm and 4:00 – 5:00 pm

Malloy Hall 103 (near that bike repair stand!)

To Make Appointments:
Use tutortrac
Email:, or stop by the center.

Center Supervisor: Jacquelyn Horton
Director of Public Speaking: Michelle Lavigne

Malcolm Gladwell on Public Speaking

Journalist Malcolm Gladwell has written a number of best-selling books, including Blink, The Tipping Point, Outliers, What the Dog Saw, and most recently, David and Goliath: Underdogs, Misfits, and the Art of Battling Giants. You can read a lot of his articles online at The New Yorker, such as this piece about college rankings: “The Order of Things: What College Rankings Really Tell Us.”

Gladwell has also become a celebrated public speaker. You can want a bunch of his TED talks, he’s appeared at universities, and lectured at Google.

In a 2010 interview, Sarfraz Manzoor asked Gladwell about his public speaking career. Gladwell replied that “Speaking is not an act of extroversion. People think it is, but it has nothing to do with extroversion. It’s a performance, and many performers are hugely introverted.”

The part about extroversion begins at 2:10.


Becoming a Public Speaker

The first chapter of A Pocket Guide to Public Speaking offers some great observations about the work we’ll do in this course.

First, the authors emphasize that public speaking is a valuable skill that applies to your other courses and to your whole life.

Second, they point out that communication is essential for citizenship: in a democracy, effective communicators have the opportunity to shape law and policy.

Finally, they give some tips for how to draw on your prior knowledge and experience to succeed in this course.

You can find the text here:

Willard’s Wheel

19th-century photograph of F. Willard on her bicycle Gladys, supported by two women
Frances Willard on “Gladys”

In 1895, prominent temperance activist and feminist Frances Willard published A Wheel within a Wheel, an account of learning to ride a bicycle at the age of 53.

In the 1890s, the bicycle as we know it (two equally sized wheels with a chain driving the rear wheel) was very new. As women began to ride these new contraptions, they challenged a whole range of ideas about women and their role in society. proper clothing, physical fitness, independence,

These challenges included changes in ideas about proper clothing, about physical fitness, and about women’s independence. For Willard, learning to ride the bicycle was also connected to political struggles of her time, such as women’s suffrage (the right to vote for women in the U.S. and elsewhere) and the temperance movement (which attempted to ban recreational drugs such as alcohol and tobacco).

A full scan of Willard’s book is available on Google Books.