Tuesday's Terrible Hour - An Interview About Symposium


Nirel C.
July 22, 2016

Blog /Tuesday’s Terrible Hour – An Interview About Symposium

Every Tuesday at 4:00 here at Verity we have something called Symposium. This is a time when select people stand in front of their peers in terror and fright as they deliver speeches. The rest of the audience also sits in terror and fright for fear of being called upon to give an impromptu speech.

So…why are we as students put through all that stress? And why should we even bother with public speaking? I decided to trudge up to our Symposium Coordinator, Emily Ingersoll’s office to find some answers to these questions. Here’s what I found from our conversation.

Why do we have Symposium?

Emily: Symposium is a weekly event providing a venue for students to practice the public proclamation of truth. The objective of Symposium is for the students to learn the fundamentals of public communication using the following presentations: prepared speech, impromptu, and extemporaneous.

My goal as the coordinator is to see students think critically and think logically instead of emotionally and to communicate that in a public setting. My goal is to help them develop the all three of the appeals of public speaking: ethos, logos, and pathos, not just the pathos.

Emotion should be the garnish to the speech and something that drives the message home, but not the message itself. Logic appeal should be the meat of the speech.

“My goal as the coordinator is to see students think critically and think logically instead of emotionally and to communicate that in a public setting.”

Why is public speaking an important skill to have?

Well, we all [speak] unless we’re mute. Even if you are not intending to be a teacher, an orator, or a politician, you are going to be speaking in public. The older you get, the more you have to speak publicly, either at church, work, family, or in society.

Forcing yourself to speak out loud, even if you are an internal processor, will help you to see the holes in your thinking. Public speaking keeps you humble because it opens you up to criticism from your audience. You will learn about yourself—how you handle stress and how to think.

The motivation for public speaking as a Christian is 1 Peter 3:15. We are not only called to proclaim the gospel, but also the truth about reality. In Christ’s commands to communicate truth, it was implied that we would be using public speaking as the medium to share the gospel to the world. Public speaking forces you to understand and then communicate the why and the how of everything that you believe.

Student public speaking training

Which speech kind is your favorite and why?

Planned speeches are my personal favorite. The thing about planned speeches that allows you to do something that the other two do not, is that you have all the time you need to prepare the speech. Just because it is planned does not mean that you can’t say something impromptu. You can interject whatever brilliant thought you have come up with on the spot.

There are benefits, of course, to the types of speeches as well. The impromptu teaches you to channel adrenaline. Impromptus, of all the speech types, really teach you how to handle stress. Of all the times for you to be able to think on your feet, impromptus give you that opportunity. It trains you to be able to organize your thoughts and thus your speech in a short amount of time.

The strength of the extemporaneous is that it forces you to do research on current events. Being forced to say what you think about a current event and why enables you to be culturally aware and a better citizen of your country. Extemporaneous is the best of both worlds. You have the ability to plan ahead, but because you only have a day to prepare, there is still a decent amount of impromptu that goes into the speech. It makes you research and then incorporate that research into your overall position in an argument.

What would you say to someone who is scared of speaking?

Try to find something that you are passionate about, whether that be in a planned speech or an impromptu, that you really want your audience to come away with and channel that into your speech. I didn’t realize that I was passionate about something until I talked to other people about it. Public speaking can help you discover something that you are passionate about.

And this might sound harsh, but…get over yourself! Why are you scared? Maybe you are concerned about your reputation or about criticism from the audience. Every reason that you might give is probably an element of pride. You are supposed to represent Christ. His reputation is the only one you should be worried about.

“I didn’t realize that I was passionate about something until I talked to other people about it.”

Wow! I definitely came away from that interview with a different perspective on Symposium. Thanks to Emily, I do feel like I have a better idea  of why being able to speak in public confidently and with skill is really a beneficial tool to posses.

From now on I can look forward to any opportunity I have to speak in public. How about you?

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