Saturday, May 19, 2012

Are You Excited By This?

I just finished teaching a summer short course: The Fundamentals of Speech. We somehow crammed fifteen weeks worth of material into five days. Class ended exactly two hours and twenty-two minutes ago, and, needless to say, I’m exhausted.

Many a life lesson was learned in this class: not just about public speaking skills, but about these thirteen girls who shared their personalities and passions through the course of this course. They range from the helpful to the hilarious, and I’d like to share just a few, giving credit where credit is due (just like I taught them):

1)   Don’t carry a coconut around in the airport; it may be mistaken as a bomb (Sophie Franken). 
2)   Joseph Stalin was surprisingly smoldering looking as a youth (Stephanie Reith).
3)   Bambi took seven years to make, because Walt Disney sent some of his artists back to school to learn how to better draw animals (Courtney Allen).
4)   Sloths only go poo once a week (Sarah Keaggy).
5)   Domesticated foxes might be one of the cutest pets ever (Malerie Serley).
6)   The Vulcan “Live Long and Prosper” hand salute was created by Nimoy and inspired by a Jewish blessing (Rachel Conrad).
7)   Companies with excellent branding have subtly worked their way into my everyday life; I probably recognize their iconic logos or packaging without thinking twice (Kailey Haraburda).
8)   Textile designers generally have other jobs as well, such as teaching workshops or writing (Anna Michelle Johnson).
9)   Building structures that will last is a form of sustainability (Lauren Elwell).
10)    Making paper in a blender is a fun activity I can (and will) do (Lauren Finley).
11)    A simpler interior design will help people from all cultures feel more at ease in a space (Maryam Jahani).
12)    The perfect title gets people excited (Ashley Balding).

Sometimes life is a little intimidating, like spending an entire week, all day, in a class on what Forbes lists as one of the top nine most common fears (Van Dusen). Yet the survival rate for the affectionately title “Suicide Speech” course was overwhelmingly high (100%, to be exact). No one even ran screaming for the hills.

Our group was able to tackle something “15 million people” are afraid of (Van Dusen) and to come away stronger, smarter, and more sugared-up from all the presenters’ food analogies.

Besides the interesting bits of knowledge I’ve shared from my students above, I want to leave you with one more point I always make to all my students—both in writing and speech classes. Never forget the importance of a resonating, memorable, and powerful conclusion. You don’t want to just trail off into nothingness at the end and

Van Dusen, Allison. “Our Most Common Fears.” n.p. 14 December 2006. Web. 18 May 2012.

The textbook I wrote for The Fundamentals of Speech course at O'More: designed by Amy Lyon and illustrated by Jennifer Britton.

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