Thoughts on Speaking – Prompted by Student Speeches


I’m wrapping up another semester teaching speech at a local community college.

When I watch final speeches from students, I have the same observations, pretty much every semester.

learning#1 – It takes an attentive, dedicated learner to put into practice the skills that are taught.

Some students get “better.” Others…not so much. They each hear the same lectures, read the same text books, but some “do things differently,” and others make no noticeable changes at all.

So… here’s a tip. When you read about, or hear, something new to do that will make you more effective, then give it a try. Really – actually — give it a try!

#2 – It’s almost always all about the basics.

  • Does the speech have an “interest-raising” hook?
  • Does the speaker look the audience in the eye – eyeball to eyeball?
  • Does the speaker have any energy at all in his/her presentation? You know: gestures, pace of words spoken, movements, smiles – passion?!
  • Does the speaker end with a clear call to action – “this is what I think you could do/should do after hearing this speech” call to action? If not, the speech is simply not as effective.

I have my students present a simple, two-three minute “final speech,” just to see if they’ve learned the “what to do, how to do it” steps to effective speaking. When a student gets it all just right, especially if that student did not begin the semester as a very effective speaker, it truly makes my day/semester.

I just wish all of the students were good at putting it all into practice, instead of just the few that seem to “get it.”

Sounds like training programs at work, doesn’t it?

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