The Art of Speaking

by Kaz

Something we can all expect to be asked to do in the future is communicate effectively.The University of Alaska Fairbanks requires that all students take a 100 level Communications class in order to graduate from any of its programs. 

There is some flexibility though, so don't freak out yet!

You can take Fundamentals of Oral Communication in the Group Context or in the Individual Context. This all boils down to whether you want to learn how to communicate effectively in a group or on your own. I will not lie to you; group is hard. While the focus of the class is on group communication, you have to first learn how to communicate effectively as an individual. 

The way we communicate with others and with ourselves ultimately determines the quality of our lives. ~ Tony Robbins

I enrolled in a Group Comm class during the fall semester of 2009 because I wanted to take a class with my best friend. I tried to convince her that we should sit apart from each other the first few classes so our teacher didn't know we were friends and we could sneak into the same group. It didn't work! Save yourselves the work and sit by your friend. The teachers know, through some uncanny ability, who is friends with who.

Before you get a group, you put together and deliver a few individual speeches to your class. You do a few interesting activities and then jump right into the group building games the preclude your final, group project.

Here are a few things I took from my group class that I hope can help you with speeches in general:

Here are a few things that I think will help with groups:
  • Be honest about expectations from the start.
  • When making a group contract, keep it specific.
  • Include punishments for slacking and other no-nos that can be implemented before your group-mate gets kicked out of the group. 
  • Make sure that everyone agrees on the contract.
  • Follow the contract, even if someone has to retake the course. 
  • Be nice to each other.
  • Everyone should put in an equal amount of effort.
"Half the world is composed of people who have something to say and can't, and the other half who have nothing to say and keep on saying it." ~ Robert Frost
You might be wondering: "Why do I need a class on communication to improve my communication?" No matter what your future career, at some point, you will have at least a blurb of information that you will need to deliver to one or more people in order to perform you job. 

 As a future teacher, I must be able to communicate concepts effectively to 20 to 30 students daily and answer questions that dig into the content beyond what I have memorized. A doctor needs to be able to translate the jargon of his/her field into laymen terms for individual patients. An engineer will need to explain their designs, defend them and promote them. 

Speech is more than your memorized blurb. Speech is effectively delivering the information housed in your head. I encourage all of you who have yet to take a 100 level Communications class to take it very seriously and put your best effort in. The skills you pick up will  be needed from you for the rest of your life!

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