ComposeEdit HtmlToday I was excited to learn that Jen Madden, a public speaking instructor, was coming to our class to help us learn skills about being an effective communicator and persuader. We identified public speaking pitfalls, including nerves and confidence, tone and diction, eye contact and body language, and lack of preparedness and organization. She gave us advice as to how to keep the audience interested, how to be prepared for spontaneous questions, and how to persuade through ethos, logos, and pathos.
All of these things were very good to know, especially when we were asked after lunch to make a two minute impromptu speech about an unprepared topic. It was interesting to see how different people reacted to being put on the spot. It was also interesting to see the different levels of experience that people had in public speaking, and that even people with no experience were able to do an effective and impressive job. When it was finally my turn, I decided the best way for me to give a convincing speech was to be genuine and conversational. For the most part, this worked to my advantage, as people seemed interested and didn’t seem to question my credibility. However, I became aware of how much I used vocal non-fluencies such as the word “umm”. Afterwards, I received extremely constructive comments and criticism. And throughout the entire process, I felt extremely lucky to be able to have these opportunities to get guided practice in skills that I will be able to use throughout my life.
After class, I was able to discuss the idea for my potential action plan with Kisa. Although she was extremely supportive, she made sure that I understood all of the obstacles that I may encounter, and wanted me to make sure that I felt that I had the time and commitment to start from scratch and create such an ambitious project. It was very useful to get a different perspective on the project from somebody who is so knowledgeable in the area.
Finally in our workshop, we focused on the topic of diversity. One of the exercises that stood out to me the most was one in which we all stood in a circle, and then stepped inward if the comment that was read applied to us. This was one of the most terrifying, educational, and empowering experiences I have gone through. Many of the topics were extremely personal; and it was challenging to step forward to a presented statement, especially one that I would never admit on my own. Although I felt incredibly vulnerable, I challenged myself to be honest with myself and with those around me, and when I met that challenge I felt incredibly proud and empowered. It was also interesting to see who else stepped up when a statement was made. Seeing different people from different backgrounds step up for the same statement was very united. Furthermore, every assumption that I had subconsciously made was completely destroyed when I saw who stepped up and who did not. I could tell how powerful this was when we finished, and the entire group (many of whom seem to always be happy and talkative) was completely somber and silent.
Today was extremely empowering for me, because I felt that I was able to be completely honest with myself and others and still be completely accepted, if not more supported. Every day I feel that I am growing as a student and as a person, and am bonding more and more with the girls in my class. I am almost scared of how close we will be tomorrow, after the ropes course.