You can have brilliant ideas, but if you can't get them across, they won't get you anywhere.
Lee Iacocca

Corporate Oratory

COM 380: Special Topic
Lawrence Souder, Ph.D.
Fall, '07-08; 9:30 am-10:50 am
Office: PSA 323
Office hours: T-Th, 11am - noon; Creese Cafe
Voice: 215-895-2730
Classroom: Macalister 4019-4020

Description: When the President of the U.S. is remembered for uttering "Is our children learning," we may rightly despair over the quality of oratory in our times. But if politicians seem to have given up on public address, corporate executives continue to practice and refine the art that was perfected in 5th century Greece. This course will help students to explore the practice of public speaking in corporate settings. In particular, they will learn techniques in rhetorical criticism to analyze corporate oratory as it is found in:

  • annual stockholder meetings
  • public hearings
  • trade conventions
  • press conferences
    This course is designed to articulate with COM 230 and 330 by focusing on one application of the general principles of public speaking and with COM 270 and 280 by showing relationships between written and spoken corporate discourse.
  • Objectives: If you successfully complete this course, you will be able to:

    Text: All readings are journal articles that are available to Drexel students via Hagerty Library's on-line resources. See bibliography. In addition to readings, this course requires the viewing of examples of corporate oratory for analysis. See sample corporate speeches.

    Grading: Your final grade will be computed on the basis of the following components:

    Assignments: Each class meeting will require you to prepare a reading, speaking, or writing assignment. All readings are on-line. Click on the author names in the Reading Due column of the Assignment Schedule for study guide questions to help you focus on key terms and concepts. Expect in-class oral questions on the assigned readings to show your understanding of their content. Most speaking and writing assignments are opportunities to apply the perspectives and principles described in the readings to your own examples of communication. Click on the items in the Writing Due column of the Assignment Schedule for specific details. Late assignments will be penalized one letter grade increment for each class day late. In addition to the ongoing reading and writing assignments, each of you will give two formal presentations at some point in the course. Click on the link to
    Presentations for details.

    Assignment Schedule



    Sample Speech

    Speaking Due

    Writing Due

    Reading Due

    1 Introduction "Greed Is Good"      


    Corporate "Anatomy of a Corporate Takeover"     Friedman; Galbraith


    Oratory Fiorina     Bitzer


        Pres 1: tba   Vatz


    Corporate Speech content Hofmeister     Myers
    6     Pres 1: tba    


    Speaker's ethos Dunn     Beason


        Pres 1: tba First project  


    Genre Schwartz     Rogers


        Pres 1: tba    


    Topoi Trump     Kallendorf


        Pres 2: tba    


    Metaphor Balmer     David


        Pres 2: tba    


    Narrative Hastings; Jobs     Forster


        Pres 2: tba    


    Defense Neeleman; Eckert; Q&A     Campbell


        Pres 2: tba    


    Preparation for Presentation at Plenary Session        
    20     Pres 3: plenary    


    Attendance: You are expected to attend all classes. Attendance is important to your progress and your classmates'. Much of what you learn will come from discussions and interactions with your fellow students. A formal presentation for which you are absent will be graded as an F. If an emergency prevents you from attending class (such as a personal illness or family emergency), please contact me in advance of your absence. You may miss two classes without penalty; any additional absences will reduce your final grade.

    Punctuality: You are expected to be on time for all classes. Late arrivals are disruptive to the instructor and your fellow students.