Back in 2014, public speaking topped the list of most common fears held by Americans. Today, at the end of 2017, the list seems to reflect a growing apprehension surrounding a shift in the political climate (the top spots are occupied by fears pertinent to the government domain). Regardless, speaking in front of a crowd is still something most of us will have to do at some point or another. Public speaking can be a daunting, anxiety-invoking challenge for nearly anyone, and we were lucky to have Dorothy Pam, a lecturer at Holyoke Community College, with us to help relieve some of these fears.
We started with the basics--the way in which we present our own names to others. Dorothy had one of our participants say their first and last name to the group. She worked with him to improve his introduction; each time he repeated his name, Dorothy would respond with one way he could make it better, prompting him to repeat his name once again. Ultimately, our participant introduced his name to the group with conviction, power, and strength. Dorothy helped us realized the importance of stating your name in such a way when presenting yourself--to make sure listeners don't forget who they are hearing from. If they want to reference you later, they are more likely to remember your name.
The presentation of our guest speaker was particularly timely because of the Town Meeting that week. The lessons she had to teach the group were ones that would enable any community member to give a compelling argument for whatever it was they wanted to fight for. Advice like "tell the audience why they should care," and "speak with passion" and "be extemporaneous" (meaning prepare your speech but never read it) was key to coming off to an audience as a confident public speaker. We were appreciative of Dorothy Pam for empowering us in a way that better prepared us to advocate for our own needs in a town hall-type of setting or give a compelling, convincing speech.
Written by: Daniella Colombo