Mastering the Art of Public Speaking

Introduce Yourself

Find a friendly face
     somewhere in the crowd,
Take a deep breath
Pause, then let it all out.
The information is caged there
In the front of the mind
And it's easy to let it flow out
If you just ignore the tingle
     the constant shiver in your spine
Steady. Steady.
Take a deep breath.
People are waiting
     anxious to hear your speech
One shot to make an impact
One shot to shine
Unmask your confidence
     and introduce yourself.

Public Speaking 101

The most exciting and nerve wracking moment in the history of a Greek's life is that very first moment, when you unveil yourself to campus. New member presentations are exciting and the way each individual gets to express him or herself to the campus as a new Greek. This may include stepping, singing, and dancing, but it definitely includes speaking. Most new member shows have multiple people introducing themselves to the campus, allowing some level of comfort in the beginning of the show, but eventually each person is center stage by him or herself. I took a public speaking class after I crossed, not only was the class smaller than the audience at my show, but they were less expecting. At my internships, everyone expected that I would be nervous and that my speak may not be flawless. When people attend new member presentations, however, they expect a great show. No one wants to be the person who forgot their speech! That would be a horrible way to introduce yourself to the campus!
I had the (mis)fortune of being the only person in my show and at that point in my life, I would have gladly opted out of the show given the opportunity. When you first get in place and look out at all the faces eagerly anticipating your show, you remember the shows you've previously seen or the way people laughed at people who messed up their shows, and your heart skips several beats. It's absolutely terrifying. But once you survive the new member presentation, you're all set for the step shows, stroll offs, forums, meetings, etc. Nothing is as scary as that first time.

Confidence and Projection

Some organizations allow their new members microphones, but often, you are expected to project your own voice over the screaming crowd without aid. Perhaps you're lucky like me and get the privilege of projecting inside or perhaps you draw the short stick and are forced to project outside. Either way, you learn quickly that your normal voice does not cut it in an unruly crowd. Getting the attention of a boisterous room seems quite easily after yelling above a new member presentation crowd. People yell the craziest things at new member presentations, yet, you are expected not to break your stance. You can't look at the person yelling. You can't laugh at what they yell. You can't even smile. When you get ready to give professional speeches, that kind of discipline is politican-like. Through this experience, you learn to master the poker face. 

While I may have learned a lot of nuances from my public speaking class—how to design slides, purposeful vs. distracting movement, etc.—it was my new member presentation that made it easy to stand in front of a crowd. Taking off the mask is not just a revelation of your choice in organization but also a revelation of your confidence.

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