It happens at work, during classes, over a phone call, and with your friends. From a greeting to a casual conversation, we are always practicing the art of public speaking. We often think of the term “public speaking” as an act of performance. An act where you stand in front of a group of people and deliver a speech that is expected to inform and persuade the audience by preparing it with all its necessary elements.
As a student, taking the course of public speaking at Dutchess Community College, I can assure you that this definition is only one perspective of what public speaking actually is. As an example of how universally we are all either part of the audience or play the role of the speaker, think of a group of your friends listening to how you spent your spring break in Mexico with your family. The eye contact, the way your voice speeds up and the way the volume of your voice rises as you share excitement, are all parts of what form a speech, and what public speaking consists of among many important factors when speaking in public; hence the name public and speaking. Think back to the last conversation you had, and think of how you knew the importance it had, by the attitude or tone of voice in which it was delivered or how you knew that conversation was ending simply by recognizing the speed of the speaker’s voice or by gestures that gave away if the speech was going to expand or if it was reaching its final point. After clarifying how everyone partakes a role in public speaking through their day to day lives, I’d like to refer to an event which consisted of just that.
Dutchess Community College held the intramural public speaking competition this past Saturday, April 22nd. The second annual intramural tournament consisted of delivering an original informative speech, which would be judged twice before any final decision as to those who’d move on to the final round. As part of getting the most out of this competition in order to write a developed and informed report, I attended this event as a competitor. I wrote an informative speech based on the benefits exercise has on mental health, physical health and the benefits it had on college students. This academic event started at 9:00am with everyone competing being divided into three separate groups. Each group would deliver their speech to one judge as the first round. After the first round, the groups would change giving everyone a chance to speak in front of a different judge. This gave the speakers a chance to fully express their ability and deliver their speech allowing various structural criticism to be discussed between the decision of judges as to who would go on to the final round. From an approximate audience of about thirty people or more, including the judges and the members of the debate team, I would say that roughly twenty-five students participated in the tournament. The final round consisted of seven students and their speeches to be delivered, not in front of a judge, but in front of three judges and all students present. As the final round was close to start, the lovely host of this event and also professor of public speaking at the college, Mrs. Hoskins, provided pizza and salads for all who were part of this event. After a full stomach and a nice break before the final round began, the seven finalists were announced. As each speaker stepped up on the stage and spoke into the microphone, everyone listened promptly considering all factors that the judges were looking for in the tournament. After all speeches were properly delivered, the judges discussed the winner of the tournament while students waited anxiously. First place went to a student named Kyle whose last name shall remain unknown. He also received a one-hundred dollar gift card and a trophy to remember this achievement during his college career.
At last, I’d like to emphasize how important public speaking actually is in the life of a student and their coming jobs and career opportunities, as everyone will at some point face a situation where this skill will be useful.