University of Maryland University College
For me taking Foundations of Oral Communication was more than a required. At first I thought I was already decent at public speaking but I was in for such a surprise. After the first practice upload I knew what I wanted out of this class, I wanted to overall improve my skills. In just a few weeks with the help of my professor and fellow students I did as such and noticed a clear difference.
For our first assignment we were to create an Introduction Speech. This was to be a 2-4 minute introduction of ourselves that I didn’t do so hot on. I received a 65% on the presentation not because of how I talked it but the content I presented. Looking at the critea that was required to be in the speech I went down the check blocks putting in the bare minimums required. The meat of the essay was lacking. This is my first experience and I used it to make sure my other projects didn’t suffer as well. I learned that its important to put supporting information and lesser facts into the presentation instead of just saying the main topic and moving on. I spoke about different adventures that I went on extremely vague instead of giving one or two examples in detail. I talked about different wonders that I’ve seen, but instead of talking about how I’ve seen lighting storms onto of Mount Fuji or seeing the aural borealis while climbing in the Adirondack Mountains I just moved on. So overall in my first assignment I learned that main ideas need to be supported by reliable and relevant information.
Moving to the second assignment dealing with interviewing another person. Overall I felt personally that it went fantastic. Everything went smoothly and without much stutter or pause in conversation. I learned from my previous assignment to make sure that I went into detail with questions and responses. Making sure that there was substance to the questions was my number one concern at this point. This time I received a 38/50 (95%). I was very happy at this point, but even more so to see how I could further improve. When reading over the notes I found that I made a simple mistake right at the start… not engaging a handshake. After reading this it dawned on me how easy of a mistake it truly was. Shaking hands to me is not very important personally, but this is not personal choices but business choices. Truly more than just a gesture, the handshake is important to establish a connection with the person. Also this creates an opening to further set a comfortable climate and make the interviewee more engaged. The only other obvious mistake that I made was not having follow on questions for every response I received from my interviewee. When asking about his greatest challenge about being in the service he talked about missing his family. A clear obvious question that should be asked is how do you keep in touch? I will remember to listen more carefully to such delicate responses and make sure to ask follow up questions. On the flip side of negative is positive, and the feedback was mostly of that. I created a listing of questions that was clearly identified what was going on and covered many aspects of the interviewee life. Attempted with success to avoid filler words such as um and uh, being honest this is the biggest achievement I reached in this class, previously I would use these words but with some practice I stopped. Opening and closing questions were worded properly and with good balance. I received note of having good body posture, this is another skill that is invaluably learned in this class. Body posture keeps your energy high which makes the interviewee more active with better responses. At this point I’ve obtained a few new skills in talking with others and learned of more ways to fine tone other aspects.
My informative speech is next up, this was defiantly different than anything else I’ve done… for now I had an audience staring at me. When writing my script to read I thought it would be just like the interview but with two more people… Not the case at all. Right at the start I didn’t feel nervous, but instead I felt nothing at all. I forgot everything I wrote and couldn’t make it without flash cards. I know with practice I can overcome this small anxiety, but was fun to find out it’s there! Now reading with flash cards I was able to finish. What I learned from this project was no matter how comfortable you are around people when performing a new task you never know what to expect. At this point in the class we’re moving to starting the PowerPoint assignment in regards to a charity of your choice. Right off the start I knew that I would want to present the ALS foundation. I went to various websites collecting information, plugged it all in and thought I had created a decent PowerPoint. Where I went wrong here was obvious because it was in the reading. I had put too many words into various slides, some had little too much empty space, and I did not cite my references correctly. Reviewing and correcting the slides because I would use them in my presentation of my next assignment I saw exactly where I went wrong and saw how the correct format would help present more efficiently.
The last presented assignment was the persuasive speech which I felt I ran into the most roadblocks I could have. The first and foremost biggest disadvantage is the medicine I’m on for a pulled shoulder muscle. Presenting a speech or lecture while on any kind of drug is very difficult I believe even for the experienced, let the show must go on. So I slurred some words by mistake and looked at my screen maybe little bit more than usual, however there was more to come. My little angel, Mia she’s two years old, ran into the room screaming… I had to excuse myself for a moment to take her into other room and come back. I know that this kind of thing can happen to anyone but when I returned I had little mind freezes because I was still thinking of my child instead of my speech. When I snapped back to reality I still had the anxiety from leaving camera which didn’t help me finish off my speech. I know that I could do better, but I did my best and the experience alone is what’s most valuable. For our final assignment we had to write an essay with different choices. I wrote about my experiences with the class and how each project had left different impressions on me each time. I believed I would improve vastly on each skill never making the same mistake twice. This is far from the truth and what I realize that no one will be a professional speaker without much due practice. Instead I’ve identified what areas I’ve improved in and what areas are lagging behind. I will continue my practices in public speaking because it’s definitely one skill set that is required in today’s society.
All in all I’m very satisfied with the knowledge I’ve learned while taking the Foundations of Oral Communication class. Each time I read my professors reviews on my assignment I took her constructive critic with no salt and used it to become better. In just a few weeks I’ve become more confident with speaking in groups because of the skill sets this class has taught me. My goal for this class was to improve my skills and that goal has been met. I will be pursing in the future the means to further improve myself in this field.
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