Reflective Essay: Public Speaking

Public speaking is a skill that is extremely important in a career in the business field mainly but can play a part in most if not all career paths you decide to choose. Because I have been interested in pursuing a career in the business field I feel that public speaking skills are one of the main characteristics a good business person would need to have. Due to the fact, I will need to be leading meetings, having one on one interviews and who knows maybe i’ll even have my own TED talk.

Looking back on this class, I have realized just how much my writing, speaking and self confidence has improved since the beginning of the semester. I went from being a writer that was not confident in her work and over-thought everything into someone who found her own writing style and spoke as confident as the various TED talk speakers.

There are many things that I have learned about myself this semester. I have learned that if I do not overthink my speeches while I am writing them, and stop trying to make them perfect (until the end of course), my writing will move like butter on toasted bread – with eaze.

Personally, I do not believe that public speaking is my strongest skill. To accommodate for this, I practiced the strategies we learned in class. I knew that the more I practiced my part of the speech, the more prepared I would feel. It is recommended to practice a speech approximately six times before presenting. This helped me to know exactly what I was going to be talking about and feel more comfortable and less nervous while in front of the audience. I also practiced using gestures and making sure they were visible to the entire audience.

I was certainly most nervous for the speech exercises that we gave in class because we had no time to prepare our topics that were chosen for us. I used some incorrect words and was not even paying much attention to what I was saying, but I was able to make eye contact and come up with main points for me to talk about. I think that this was probably my weakest speech performance in the class due to the fact I was unable to prepare beforehand.

As for my informative speech, I was able to prepare my three main points beforehand and use a visual aid to keep the audience focused. I was more prepared with what I was going to be talking about, so I think that my performance in the informative speech was better than it was in the impromptu speech. The group persuasive speech may have been my best performance because not only was I prepared, but I also had other group members to make me feel more confident speaking in front of the class.

I think that the area I need to work on the most with my public speaking is making sure I avoid talking too fast when I get nervous. During my informative speech about Disneyland, I started out talking calmly and slowly, but as I stayed up there longer, I began to get more nervous and stumble over my words. I think that this is an issue that I can fix with more practice and more public speaking opportunities. It is important that when I am speaking, I remind myself to stay calm and take my time.

One specific improvement I made during the semester was learning to make better eye contact.I tried looking less at my notes so that it would not look like I was just reading off a sheet of paper. I think that I also improved my use of gestures. Previously, I would stand in a position and either rock back and forth or fidget nervously. I also tended to clasp my hands together and get shaky when I would get nervous. During the speeches this semester, I focused on avoiding these distracting tendencies. Instead of fidgeting, I used meaningful gestures. I tried to stand up straight and still rather than slouching and moving around.

Another thing I learned that helped me during speeches was to use the speaker notes in large, easy-to-read BOLD font. Having a long paragraph of exact words to say would make it sound to the audience like I didn’t know what I was talking about because it would sound like I was reading the information. Just including basic bullet points of the points I wanted to make made it easier for me to focus on maintaining eye contact. I would just briefly glance down at my notes to ensure that I remembered all the points I wanted to make.

I believe that the improvements I have made in my public speaking this semester have already began to benefit me in life. I have had to speak at weekly meetings of the RHA for my position as a Floor Rep. for my building and I was much more nervous and shaky when I spoke at the beginning of the semester than I am now. I now know to plan out the basic points of what I plan to say beforehand and to take deep breaths and relax before it is my turn to speak. My public speaking skills have also benefited me when I ran for positions within my sorority. I had to write four speeches for elections, and thanks to my preparation and my confidence when speaking, I was able to win each of the positions I ran for.

Overall, even though Mama Jacobs was tough at times she still managed to put aside her work in order to make sure you got the extra help you needed. This course was challenging but in a good way, she allowed you come out of your comfort zone using the speech exercises we would do in class. If I had to give you advice on anything in order to get a good grade in this class would only have to be.. PRACTICE. Practice your speech, practice your gestures, practice your eye contact, practice your flow. In honesty, just practice practice Ms.Jacobs does grade on all of the above. If you have to think if she grades on a certain thing she probably does. This course was probably the highlight of my year, I was always so excited to come to this class because she made public speaking so much fun and intriguing. Last little advice to you, smile and have fun with your speeches! In my opinion I don’t want to hear an eight minute speech on the history of rocks… scan your audience, keep them interested in what you’re speaking about.