NEARLY A CENTURY AGO, the National Association of Academic Teachers of Public Speaking pioneered the study and advancement of public speaking in America as a practical art of communication and deliberation. Now as interactive forms of public discourse proliferate, they too require our attention and, in some cases, our emulation. The best of them provide models of oral exchange that can be readily adapted to our needs as teachers, conference facilitators, organizational consultants, community leaders. But we can learn as well from negative models: from highly popular talk shows, for example, that build their audiences by substituting invective for genuine exchange.
NCAF’s mission, then, is to help improve the quality of public exchange: (1) utilizing NCA conventions as the vehicle for display of innovations in public debate, discussion, and conversation; and (2) arranging for collective assessments by NCA convention audiences of program formats and practices. (3) assisting colleague in staging NCAF-type events on campuses, in classrooms, in communities. Each year, NCAF presents one or more program events for display and assessment. Some events are broadcast, others disseminated on the web, and others kept “in-house.” A premium is placed on presentations of “live” events, of particular interest to NCA members, with opportunities for their participation.
1. Provide opportunities for NCA members to view and participate in a variety of modes of public debate, discussion, and conversation.
2. Provide opportunities for NCA members to jointly assess program formats and practices.
3. Provide models of exchange useful to NCA members in exercising community and institutional leadership, and in their own teaching and consulting.
4. Gain national prominence for our discipline by showcasing its commitment to improving the quality of public debate, discussion, and conversation in America and the expertise NCA members bring to that commitment.