1. My first goal of the quarter is to improve my tone. I am often told that my voice comes across as dull or monotone and I realize that this negatively impacts my speaking because it distracts from what I am saying. In order to combat this habit, I must make a conscious effort to be enthusiastic and give my speech some variation. By fluctuating my tone of voice from high to low, emphasizing certain words, my speaking will be more dynamic and effectively will be easier to listen to. It is important to improve my tone because if my speech sounds like one long drone then people will get distract and stop listening.
2. My second goal of the quarter is to improve my tempo. I often find myself in the middle of a speech beginning to drift off because of how long I’ve been up there. It’s almost like I am in a trance or something because all of the sudden I am thinking still talking but my mind is thinking of something else, which leads to my words get jumbled and stuttered. I also need to make sure that I do not speak too quickly because it is a sign of nervousness and will distract from what I am saying. In order to improve my tempo I will focus on generally speaking slower (one site recommends 160 words/minute) because this will allow me more time to collect my thoughts and it will make me appear more confident. I will also use rests more during my speech because it breaks up what would otherwise just be a long chain of thoughts. I will uses these pauses strategically in order to emphasize certain things.
3. Current Event Speech
My first speech was centered around Pope Francis’ recent visit to the US and focused on what is referred to as the “Francis Effect”. The feedback I received was mostly positive, noting my good structure and use of transitions. On the other hand, I was told to watch my word choice for filler words and other words that are being re used too much and also to have a stronger hook. I will improve word choice next time by recording myself when I practice my speech. This way I can look back and evaluate my speech to see if there are any words that I am using too much. Improving my hook will not be difficult since I essentially did not have one for this speech.
I was very happy with the result of my goals because I accomplished both of them pretty well. First, I improved my tone by fluctuating my volume throughout my speech in order to avoid staying monotone. I mostly did this when I was transitioning or when I was trying to make the audience feel a certain emotion. Second, I am happy with the tempo of my speech because I stayed fluid the whole way through and did not have any moments where I became lost. The only thing I am not happy about regarding tempo is my use of filler language during a few of the transitions. Watching the video, I can see that there are transitions where I did not know where I was going next so I added at “um” to fill the gap.
4. Impromptu Speech
The second speech I gave was an impromptu one with the words Hawaii, White House and Disneyland. Given that these places are all tourist attractions I decided to frame my speech around these three places, saying that they are the top three places I would like to travel to next. I received positive feedback about my hook, where I asked “If you could anywhere in the world right now, where would that be?” The only thing that I should have improved is to add more sensory detail when I talk about these places. Looking back, this would have greatly strengthened my speech because it would have been a lot more interesting and the audience would have been drawn in a little more. I will definitely add more detail to my next speech in order to make it more interesting. Another strength from this speech was my structure, which clearly laid out the order of my speech. For my next speech I will try to include a lot more detail to my points because based on the feedback this is the area that I really need to work on.
5. Long Informative
The topic I selected for my long informative speech was the history of snowboarding. Specifically, I focused on the advancements of snowboarding technology leading up to the year 1990. I chose this topic because snowboarding is my favorite thing to do and I knew it would be easy for me to get into and I knew that this new information about a common topic would interest the rest of the class. Based on the response to the question I asked in my introduction, the audience was interested because more than half of them raised their hands for having interest in a snow sport. I then talked about how going up to the mountains is a big tradition for my family and therefore connected myself to the topic better than simple stating that I snowboard. They were also very interested in the first board I went over because it was very novel and I could tell a lot of them were surprised by how different it looked than the snowboards we have today.
I used a chronological structure for my speech starting in the year 1960. In my introduction I asked the class how many of them participate in winter sports in order to gage their interest of the topic and the positive response I got from them was encouraging and gave me confidence. My speech didn’t necessarily have bodies because it was more of a run through of the advancements instead of being centered around different ideas. It was easy to transition from point to point because most of the advancements led to the next one or made an improvement. I thought my transitions went smoothly for that reason. My conclusion was definitely the worst part of the speech, I had not rehearsed it enough and when I finally got to it I hit a wall. It definitely interrupted the flow of my speech because I stood there for a good two seconds not knowing what to say.
My ability to speak extemporaneously about the topic was a big strong point of my speech because it conveyed my confidence and credibility. This ability came from my knowledge of the subject and was fueled by my overwhelming interest in snowboarding. Being able to speak like this allowed me to sound more confident and also to elaborate between points. For example I felt very confident in my explanation of the competition between Tom Sims and Jake Burton because of the amount of material I gathered on them during my research of the subject. Another good part of my speech was the use of visuals. I kept these minimal, only showing the product and maybe another picture, but my slideshow served me very well for describing the changes through the years. If I did not have these solid examples to go off of then it would have been much more difficult for the audience to stay focused.
One negative side to my speech was that I felt it was a little too rushed. When I rehearsed it I was going much slower and elaborating more in the beginning, so my ending time was longer. But when I delivered my speech I kind of rushed through the first few points and when I looked at the clock a few points before my conclusion to see that only five or six minutes had passed I got a little thrown off. Apparently my fight or flight response did not support me because when it came to my conclusion, the area that needed the most cushioning, I froze for a few seconds and forgot what to say before uttering a short and choppy conclusion. I feel like this took away from the overall effect my speech had on the audience because it made me look unprepared and took away from the credibility behind my words.
Looking back, I could have organized this speech in a different way in order to have more of a traditional structure rather than chronological. This would have given my speech more depth as opposed to listing off the changes how they happened. Organizing them by categories like boards, bindings, and boots would have made it easier to track the progress because it would not be mixed up with the changes that occurred in other areas at the same time. But most importantly I would work on having a more solid conclusion because that was definitely my weakest area. I am suprised at that too because there is a lot of information that I could have reviewed but I was not prepared enough and could not speak off the top of my head. Therefore for my next speech I will practice more times, emphasizing a strong conclusion.
For my policy speech I chose overfishing. I chose this topic because I first heard about the extent of this problem last spring and it has stayed in the back of my head ever since. I knew that my classmates would most likely be as surprised as I was at the statistics representing this problem, especially because there seems to be a lot of animal lovers in the class.
I feel that my delivery was one of the strong points because my tone was clear and I did not really have any stutters of trip ups. I feel my knowledge of the topic contributed to this since I did not have to rack my brain for the information I was looking for. I think my audience got a good impression of my knowledge of the subject during my second slide, and I think this helped them be more engaged in what I was saying because they had some more background.
My lack of information or research in this speech was probably one of my biggest weak points. I realized after giving it that there a few pieces of research that I left out that could have helped strengthen my case since the information would have been coming from a more credible source than me just explaining the idea. Another weak point was that my speech ran short, which definitely could have been avoided by elaborating more on my topics and providing more evidence. So if I could change anything about this speech it would be to include more evidence from my research and also provide a counter argument to show that this is a real debate.
All in All
I definitely accomplished my goals of improving my tone and tempo this quarter. As was able to feel very comfortable in front of our class which helped me speak more normally as opposed to a formal tone, and this overall helped me move away from my monotone tendencies. By practicing things like voice inflection I was able to ensure that my speeches would be dynamic and not flat. Secondly, I feel I improved my tempo through confidence and practice. First confidence, since if I don’t believe I can perform I will be nervous and my speech will be choppy. Next, practicing my speech over and over allowed me to become more familiar with the information I am presenting, therefore leading to me speaking extemporaneously and more seamlessly. Practicing helps me drill my outline into my head so that once I am up in front of the class I am able to move from thought to though without hesitation. Overall I am truly grateful for the welcoming class atmosphere we had, as I have never felt more comfortable presenting for a group of people.