Classes you dread but shouldn’t: Speech

Fundamentals of Speech:  Just the name is enough to make most students sweat bullets.

Students, have no fear – this intimidating course might be one of the most useful ones you take.

Required in many programs, speech is a part of the liberal studies core.

Dr. Brent Sleasman, assistant professor of communication arts, suggests taking the class freshman or sophomore year because it will help within other courses.

“A student will give many presentations throughout his or her academic life and learning the basics of effective organization, content and delivery will be very helpful,” Sleasman said.

Samantha Preston, a senior legal studies major, said that she was afraid to take the course but is now comfortable speaking in front of a group and feels that her communication skills have improved.  Both Preston and Neal Zoellick, a junior biology major, agreed that after taking the class their public speaking skills improved.

According to Sleasman, “This class is about more than just public speaking since many of the concepts are part of many forms of human communication.”

Other than public speaking, students learn time management skills, how to properly plan and prepare and the value of good practice.

Preston said her favorite part of the course was preparation for each speech.  Zoellick said his favorite part was giving the persuasive speech.

“It allowed me to present my thoughts on a subject without having to worry about people judging me because it was my own view,” he said.

Sleasman also wants people to understand that just because it is a 100 level course, the course is not supposed to be easy.

He also said that he feels other instructors understand that it is an introductory level course and keep that in mind when they are making assignments and deadlines.

Sleasman thinks that one reason people worry about this class is because we live in a society where people communicate in short phrases, so forcing students to think about what they are saying and why they are saying it makes them nervous.

Sleasman also said that nerves are a good thing. In fact, he is concerned when a student is not nervous, because that usually means they do not care about what they are going to say.

Both Preston and Zoellick agreed that a speech course should be part of the liberal studies core.

Zoellick thinks that there should be another class option that would analyze speeches that have been given in the past in lieu of actually giving speeches.

Olivia Colonello, a senior business administration major, said that when she took the class it influenced her to become more active on campus and even helped her change her major — which, in turn, has helped her figure out what she wants do to as a career.

Zoellick gave the following piece of advice for those students who still need to take the class: “Public speaking is just a mind game.  When you can prepare and focus on what to present, the audience will listen to what is good and not to your mistakes.”

Overall, students will agree that if you stay on top of your work and put in the right amount of effort, this class simply becomes a fight of mind over matter, and, in the end, is not as fear-inducing as everyone may believe.


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