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Pushing through Fears to Speak up in Class

We have all been in those situations where we courageously speak up in class, but our message is not conveyed the way we imagined it would be.

Those are the moments when we all wish we were better public speakers. To help overcome this obstacle, we have asked a few of the school’s experienced speakers for some tips and anecdotes.

Student body president Theo Lipsky ’12 recounted his experience at the International Independent Schools Public Speaking Competition in Ottawa, Canada, last year. At the IISPSC, he was the top American speaker and was invited to compete
in the World’s tournament in Australia. Before this, Lipsky admitted that he had not had much public speaking experience.

He suggested, in order to become a successful public speaker, you should “write your speech as if you were going to say it.”

Lipsky insists that a speech should be different from a research paper or an English journal and advised speakers never to fall into a rhythm and to vary their tone of voice.

English Teacher Kimberly Wright also shared some helpful pointers. She teaches public speaking, a spring term English elective. While she admits she may not be the best public speaker, she said, “Speaking in public can make anyone nervous,
but the only way to push through the fear is to actually do it.”

Head of the Philosophy and Religious Studies Department Michael O’Donnell has learned that an important part of public speaking is connecting with individuals and being able to read and react to the audience. According to him, “Humor is the fastest way to synchronize human emotions.”

Mr. O’Donnell believes that the best way for Deerfield students to practice public speaking is to simply “take every opportunity you have” such as making announcements during sit-down dinner or participating in discussions in the classroom.

Eliza Mott ’12 offers simple advice: “Believe in what you are saying. Otherwise, it’s just acting.”