By Shelby Otto
While attending KU, students eventually realize they are going to have to make their voices heard whether they want to accomplish anything great or even just order a pizza.
So, as an introvert turned social butterfly, I thought I would provide some academic advice (call it advisement, if you will) to those students having anxiety attacks at the thought of fulfilling their oral communication requirements.
Since coming to KU, I have switched majors about three or four times, throwing a minor or two in the mix, before eventually settling as a double major in art history and professional writing. Perhaps, for that reason, I overlooked my speech class for a while, or maybe not so subconsciously, I was just trying to avoid it. Either way, it doesn’t matter. You are going to have to take it.
Now, your advisor will probably warn you against the exact thing I am going to tell you to do. So, do with this what you will.
I am currently a second-semester senior, looking at one more year here due to my major requirements, and I am just now taking my COM-010 class. Looking at the syllabus, I smile at the presentation requirements and scoff at the maximum time limit of six minutes.
As cocky as that sounds, I share that with you for a reason. After you have completed the majority of your 300-level courses for whatever major you are enrolled in, you have most likely given multiple speeches and presentations, whether they went well or not.
Personally, at this point, I have stumbled through small individual and group presentations, a 20-minute senior seminar lecture and two creative conferences. In hindsight, this single class seems minimal compared to all of that.
Another thing I have noticed since putting off my speech class is that without having been taught one specific way to speak publicly, you kind of learn the ways you like to present your dialog to your audience and develop your own sense for how you convey information. It helps you find what works best for you without having an annoying little whisper at the back of your mind telling you how to put together your visuals or how you should structure your note cards. You just do and say what you find is important.
Pushing off my speech class has given me the authority to craft a public speaking style that works for me, accurately relay information, and still hold both mine and my audience’s attention.
Although those monster projects may have caused you great pain, emotional overload or temporary insanity, one begins to realize that presentations are slowly getting easier, whether you intended them to or not.
For this reason, I advise you to hold off on your speech class. While the freshmen surrounding you are panicking about two-minute introductory speeches, you can relax and know that you can conquer anything. As long as it’s not another 20-minute lecture, that is.