“Speech” was the word at the Oral Communication Center’s second “Hamilton Speaks: Improve Your Public Speaking in 6 Minutes or Less,” a lunch-hour event on Oct. 28 in the Tolles Pavilion.
The setup was reminiscent of speed dating, with a large clock projected on a screen that told groups when to move to another guest speaker’s table. At these round tables, student participants found professionals excited to share some insights on what makes for excellent public speaking. The event featured 14 speakers from all walks of campus life, from the Dean of Admissions and Financial Aid to Oral Communication Center (OCC) Peer Tutors.
OCC Peer Tutor Julia Coash ’16 gave a presentation titled “Managing Speech Anxiety.” A psychology major, Coash employed the Lazarus Stress Appraisal Model, a common point of reference in her field of study, to explain that a fear of public speaking is “Really, a game of perception.” Oftentimes, she explained, those with a fear of public speaking interpret their own anxiety as something that they cannot cope with. Coash suggested that practice, careful preparation, and muscle relaxation exercises can be helpful for even the most anxious speakers.
An important facet of presentations for the future leaders in the room was covered by Monica Inzer, vice president and dean of admission and financial aid. Titled “Knowing Your Audience,” Inzer shared important tips on how to gain a meaningful connection with audience members. She acknowledged that in her work, speeches given to “Parents, prospective students, and accepted students [were] 75% the same,” with the rest “adjusted to who is in the room.” The goal of this presentation was to teach students to know their audience well enough to recognize what to give them in the course of a speech.
In another aspect of public speaking, Tracy Adler, director of the Wellin Museum of Art, led a discussion she called “Communicating the Visual: How to Discuss the Art on View at Wellin Museum.” In this presentation Adler focused on “How to make the nonverbal verbal.” She emphasized how visual communication was pervasive in all fields of study, acknowledging that the elements were “going to change based on your audience.” Adler indicated that visual communication is really about trying to engage people in your interests.
Other speakers included Nathalia Mahabir ’17, OCC peer tutor, who led interactive activities on the importance of “Clear Articulation and Effective Voice.” Reference Librarian Kristin Stromeyer spoke about the resources available to students through the Burke Library in a talk titled “All Dressed Up with Much to Say: Finding Content that Counts.” Peer presenters of the Career and Life Outcomes Center, Caroline McCarthy ’16 and Harris Pollack ’17, collaborated by giving hints on how to “Nail Your Job Interview” with an emphasis on sharing personal anecdotes and early preparation. Josh Glen ’16, OCC peer tutor, extolled the virtues of Amy Cutty’s power posing techniques, framing the concept as “Two Minutes to Greater Confidence.” Glen explained that “When you make yourself bigger, your testosterone increases, and testosterone makes you confident,” a necessary element to any public presentation.
The Oral Communication Center’s “Hamilton Speaks” was an exhilarating afternoon of fast-paced professional advice that provided an important framework for public speaking to the Hamilton College community.