From Irvin Peckham's excellent blog, Personal Writing in the Classroom, Here are the rules for good writing assignments:
Always give writing assignments that
1. you will enjoy reading;
2. students will enjoy writing;
3. students will enjoy reading what others in the class have written
4. you will enjoy writing.
If any one of these conditions were not true, then it probably wasn't a very good assignment.
It is also the case that if these are not present, the public speaking assignment will suffer as well.
Presentations as evaluation should follow the same guidelines. Why assign speeches or speech topics that are not enjoyable?
What happened to the pleasure of speech in our courses? We've twisted it for the most part into a festival of failure - where student speeches on pot legalization or gun control become the cynical evidence that our students are helpless and sad in the world. We chuckle about it and do nothing to fix it.
Instead, let's stop working so hard to make public speaking a sad and vapid experience. Let's work to make it pleasurable and enjoyable. Who cares about the politics. Who cares about the knowledge displayed. What we need is a return to the sheer joy of hearing the orality of an other engaged in what should be enjoyable - the art of speech.