As I’ve mentioned before, I’m enrolled in a communications class this semester. It’s a college-level class that I’m taking for dual-credit, which means it’ll count as part of my transcript/grades for both high school AND college. Pretty cool, huh? I’ve taken a total of nine classes like this since the fall of my sophomore year… and communications has definitely been one of my favorites.
Huh. I surprised even myself with that statement. Because honestly? I didn’t think I’d enjoy that class. Like, at all. It’s all about giving speeches and learning how to communicate effectively, and I… I am uncomfortable with that sort of thing.
Or maybe I should say I was uncomfortable, because I think I’ve really improved over the past few months. I mean, I still wouldn’t say that speech-giving is my favoritest activity on the face of this planet, but it doesn’t terrify me as much as it used to. It’s actually kind of fun!
Today I gave my final major presentation (more on that later) and while the class isn’t quite over yet – there’s still a group project and some impromptu speeches (more on those later, as well) – we’re close enough to the end that I’m going to do a post about it now.
So here are some of my thoughts on comm class! They’re in a list because, well… I love lists, and I was thinking just the other day, “I should do more list posts! Like, ones that aren’t just about books!” And then I ended up reorganizing this post into a list instead of a boring essay format.
But I digress. Here’s my list.
1. I was SO FREAKED OUT during my very first speech, which wasn’t even a major assignment for that class. I had to talk about myself for about a minute, and I said “um” a lot. Also, I was probably super quiet.
2. I am constantly bewildered by the number of people who don’t bother to come to class. Like, if you’re sick… I get it. But I’ve overheard conversations about how my classmates just didn’t feel like coming to class and… that is so not me. Even if my grade in a particular class isn’t that great – I’m not doing as well in Spanish 202 as I’d like – the least I can do is show up. If I’m getting points towards my grade just for attending class, then why wouldn’t I?
3. Side note: It is kind of hilarious to hear my classmates complain about how “the teacher picked [insert day here] for the in-class extra-credit assignments just because I wasn’t there.” Dude. Dude, no. She announced that stuff, like, ages ago. And even if you cut class on the day she announced the stuff, it’s on the syllabus.
4. My first major assignment was a commemorative speech. I talked about my grandpa, and how he’s pretty cool for an old person, and how I’d like to emulate some of that when I’m his age. I earned 48/50 points on that speech and I was like YAAAAAAAAAAAY because I was so so so so worried and freaked out the night before I gave it.
5. Things I still need to work on, according to my teacher: Not playing with my hair during a speech, and using “upspeak.” (Which is when you turn a statement into a question by raising your voice slightly at the end? She says it makes me seem less confident and knowledgeable about my subject, so.)
6. Things I have improved upon, according to Me Myself & I: Eye contact during public speaking, and actually being loud enough for everyone – even people towards the back of the room – to hear!
7. Also my teacher says my speeches have “an excellent conversational quality” and that I’m very animated with my gestures at the podium. Who knew?
8. My second major assignment was an informative speech, and I talked about the production of and uses for swords in the modern day. My speech was adapted from a paper I wrote for a college English class in the summer of 2013, and you can read the whole thing as a blog post right here, if you’re interested. SWORDS ARE AWESOME, PEOPLE. Also, I received 96/100 points for that speech! (And if you’re wondering why I keep mentioning that stuff… it’s because I am RIDICULOUSLY PROUD OF MYSELF FSDJHGDJH I HAD NO IDEA I WAS EVEN CAPABLE OF GIVING A SPEECH WITHOUT RUNNING FROM THE ROOM IN FRIGHT.)
9. All of my major speeches required the use of an outline and notecards. I’ve discovered that I’m much more comfortable – and less likely to freak out – when speaking from notecards than I am without them. I’d never used them before in speeches, so that was interesting.
10. One thing I’ve noticed about my classmates’ speech is that most of them need a lot of practice when it comes to organizing their ideas logically. They’re loud enough, cited enough sources, et cetera – but sometimes it’s very very hard to puzzle out the main points of their speech, or they explain things at awkward times in the speech when they probably should have done so right at the very beginning, or whatever. And it made me wonder: Has all my writing practice given me an advantage in this regard? I’m not trying to sound like a know-it-all (and I sincerely apologize if I do), but I write something pretty much every single day. Whether I’m writing stories or blog posts, I practice and practice and practice. I mean, tons of my past blog posts are literally just me telling you why you should read a particular book, and then supporting my statement with various points in a logical manner. And it makes me wonder – do some of my classmates struggle with this because writing is something they only do for school?
11. I completed my third and final major assignment, a persuasive speech, today. I talked about why people should read graphic novels and comic books! (My main point was that they’re very quick reads and therefore perfect for people who don’t have much free time.) I had sooooo much fun during this speech, as I did during the previous two. I love geeking out! I love persuading others to become my small geeky minions. And OMG I RECIEVED 98/100 POINTS ON THAT ASSIGNMENT THE ONLY REASON I MISSED TWO POINTS WERE BECAUSE I USED UPSPEAK HA HA OOPS. Anyway, I got to talk about fun things like Captain America and Gene Luen Yang, and I cited Stan Lee (co-creator of Marvel Comics) as one of my sources. KHGDKSFGKDFHGDFG IT WAS AWESOME.
12. My group’s prompt for the (short! informal!) collaborative speech is “how to help feed the hungry in northwest Indiana” and I’m pretty excited for it – I’ve helped out with a lot of food drives through 4-H volunteer projects and my aunt’s job, so I feel prepared to talk about some of the basics. Also, I’m pleased to see that everyone in my group (of four people total) is putting in their fair share of effort, unlike some other “group” projects I’ve done in other classes where only a fraction of the group actually did anything.
13. I have no idea what I’ll be expected to talk about during my impromptu speech. That’s kind of the point.
14. I am really, really happy with my overall grade in this class – an A!
15. My awesome experiences in this class may have even persuaded me to sign up for the 4-H Public Speaking project this summer. I’m not 100% sure about this yet, though.
16. One very important (not to mention helpful) thing I realized very early on in comm is this: It’s just a different kind of English class. Once I realized this, I wasn’t quite so intimidated by this class and even began to enjoy it. It became a fun challenge for me. After all, I’ve had plenty of experience – both in and out of the classroom – with literature and writing, but up until this semester I had not had much exposure to other facets of language arts. So it was nice to try my hand at something new!
Have you ever taken a class in communications? (If you’re from outside the US: Are such classes even a Thing in your schools, or is comm stuff lumped in with a general language arts course? I’m curious.) And what is your opinion of public speaking – does it terrify you, or do you enjoy it?!