Public speaking focus of Hynes workshop

PHOTO COURTESY OF RIANA KHAN

Maureen DeGregorio, Social Media Manager

Dr. Jennifer Gerometta, the chair of the Speech Communications Studies department, presented  “Trust and Authenticity as Speakers and Listeners” to students in the Hynes Institute for Entrepreneurship & Innovation on Feb. 20.

The event was open to all students but was geared toward students involved in the Innovation Challenge.

Before beginning the presentation, Gerometta asked students to stretch and perfect their posture. She advised students to make their presentations feel like a conversation with the audience, which will help them connect with listeners.

Rob Kissner, an adjunct professor in the Hynes Institute, shared that he likes to tell his students that “everybody will look like a fool in front of everybody,” so that those who feel nervous presenting feel more confident.

Kissner is fond of the immersion technique and has his students present without much warning. He explained the importance of creating a comfortable environment where students can trust each other.

Gerometta shared some tips with students on how to present more effectively. She explained that enunciating vowels helps slow down speech and helps those listening understand better. She also advised taking a sip of water throughout the presentation, because it helps regulate breathing.

Gerometta also recommends walking around and exploring the space if there is an opportunity to do so before presenting. This will help the presenter feel comfortable and become acclimated to the space, ultimately resulting in more confidence when presenting.

While this was created for those participating in the Iona Innovation Challenge, Gerometta emphasized the importance of public speaking in general, regardless of a student’s major.

“It doesn’t matter if you have something to say. If you can’t present it well, people aren’t going to receive it,” Gerometta said.

When asked how many college students are notably struggling with public speaking skills, Gerometta and Kissner both agreed that public speaking is a challenge for most students.

“This is a big issue and people come in with different innate levels of abilities,” Gerometta said. “Some students are very anxious and you have to start where the student is. Others are just learning how to be comfortable in front of an audience.”

For students still interested in entering the Iona Innovation Challenge, the deadline has been extended to March 1.