Speech week wrap-up

I hope you have learned a lot, my scholars, about various organizations around the world, thanks to the presentations you offered this week. I hope, too, that you think back over your experience in learning how to develop a speech and you realize a few key ideas.

  1. Speech writing is not a one-time event, but a long-term process. Many of you began thinking about your speech topic the first day of class. Sometimes, your first choice was your best option… other times, students found that the third and fourth choices yield better results.
  2. If you start early, you can generally organize your ideas more effectively. Those of you who used the research effectively for the proposal and developed ideas as you went along for your Annotated Source List probably found writing the speech a little easier. If you use those key ideas, summaries, and paraphrased concepts, you can more effectively prepare a solid outline from which to present.
  3. You won’t die being in front of people. Yes, it’s scary and overwhelming at times. Watching that clock slowly tick by is tough and really concerning when you have practiced and always hit just over the minimum… but suddenly are two minutes shy of that minimum now. But we want you to excel! I cheer you on when I see you doing good (even if I have to keep a stone face during your presentation).
  4. It really helps to pay attention to others. Every semester, one or two students come up after the speeches and reflecting on their new experience, ask me how I do this every day. I mean, people were looking bored or completely inattentive. And, as a teacher, do I get that all the time?

In short, yes, I do. And it really hurts me to see a student whose hard work across the semester is ignored by his or her peers. While I don’t expect every speech will sink into every mind the same, I do hope that you learned a little something. I hope, too, you appreciate how hard it is for your teachers, even in the subjects you hate.

That said, one VERY happy memory of this week: after class today, I had a group of students stand around and talk for a few minutes about one another’s presentations. Advice was shared, smiles were exchanged, and suddenly, it seemed, these scholars were starting to appreciate the necessity of a learning community, rather than the isolated experiences we often find.


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