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About: Text

I'm a Teaching Professor in the Communication Department at the University of Washington specializing in rhetoric, speech, and debate. A full CV is available here.

At 13 years old, I started my speaking career as a regular DJ at KRCC in Colorado. Years of comedy performance finally led me to a Communication degree from Trinity University. Discovering the ancient art of rhetoric, I earned a M.A. and Ph.D. in Communication from Indiana University. While at IU, I co-directed the Forensics team, which led me to write my dissertation on speech pedagogy. I started teaching in the Communication Department at the University of Washington in 2004, where I founded the Speaking Center (now the Center for Speech & Debate) in 2005, which I continue to direct.  

I teach classes on public speaking, argumentation, debate, classical rhetoric, and rhetorical criticism. This has led to over one hundred national and international talks and workshops. I've been teaching online classes and massive open online courses (MOOCs) since 2013. The courses in my 4-course public speaking specialization on Coursera have reached a million learners around the globe. I've won multiple awards, and at least one Emmy consideration, for my teaching and educational videos.

About: Text


Undergraduate classes

  • Public speaking

  • Advanced public speaking

  • Public debate

  • Essentials of argument

  • Argument and/as combat sports

  • Classical rhetoric

  • Rhetorical criticism

  • Introduction to communication

  • Preparing for graduate education

Graduate classes

  • Communication pedagogy

  • Rhetorical criticism

  • Classical rhetoric

  • Strategic communication (for the MA in Public Administration)


McGarrity, Matt. (2021). A case for teaching public speaking without live audiences. In J. M. Valenzano III (Ed.), Post-pandemic pedagogy: Predicting the change to come (pp. 203-218). Lexington Press.

McGarrity, M. (2018, February 11). Where Trump’s first State of the Union speech ranks historically, and why, according to a speech professor. Quartz. 

McGarrity, M. (2018, January 12). A speech coach explains exactly why Oprah sounded so presidential. Quartz. 

McGarrity, M. (2013, December 12). Speaking up for the credit-less MOOC. The Chronicle of Higher Education. 

McGarrity, M. & Crosby, B. (2012). Public speaking textbooks and rhetorical invention. Rhetoric Society Quarterly, 42.2, 164-186.

McGarrity, M. (2010). Communication textbooks: From the publisher to the desk. In D.L. Fassett & J. T. Warren (Eds.), The SAGE handbook of communication and instruction (pp. 107-128). Thousand Oaks, CA: Sage Publications. 

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