Lessons Learned From A Rhetoric And Media Studies Major
By Claire Burke
First, I should explain how I ended up at UPRAISE. I graduated college this past spring, and like most recent graduates, the search was on to figure out what came next. A job? Graduate school? Travel? Move back home? Nothing? So many options! With a degree in communications studies and an internship in public relations under my belt, I knew I wanted to join the exciting field of public relations.
My desire to join the UPRAISE team can be traced to what I spent four years studying in college – rhetoric and media studies. The first day at Lewis and Clark College, my rhetoric professor did not hesitate to point out the importance of persuasive language and how often it is cultivated in our everyday world. Whether that includes its use in politics and civic life, the effects of media on beliefs and behavior, the power of film and image to frame reality or the development of identities and relationships in everyday life, rhetoric is everywhere. My professors taught me how to use critical thinking and creativity to enhance my writing, listening and speaking skills.
Here are some of my biggest takeaways from the presentation and public speaking lessons I learned as an undergrad:
Sometimes smaller is scarier.
It is important to be prepared for a presentation no matter the size of the audience. Having attended a smaller school, I learned a 20-person audience could be as intimidating as a sold out auditorium. Instead of focusing on the audience during your preparation, make sure you are comfortable and confident with your topic – this will be vital when it’s time to present.
Don’t find your “ums” – they’re hidden around the room.
The “ums” are easy to find, actually they’re too easy to find. The moment you look down or away is when you’re more likely to start saying “um.” Keeping good eye contact with your audience is important for maintaining your focus and staying on track.
Prezi’s are okay.
Prezi’s are great! Remember some people will HATE them no matter how cool the content. One thing to keep in mind is you don’t want your visuals to distract from your speaking – so find a happy medium when creating presentations.
Answering questions is as important as the presentation.
It is not only important to know the content you’re presenting, but also how to explain what you’re talking about to any audience demographic. While providing an opportunity for questions may be intimidating, it is part of almost every presentation. Prepare yourself by coming up with questions your audience may have and practice reciting answers beforehand.
I was once told on the morning of your presentation you should yell the introduction in the shower. If you are able to to say it with confidence in private, you will be more than ready to speak in public. Practicing is the best way to prepare yourself – go into an empty room or present it in front of your dog. It doesn’t matter where or how; just make sure you do it!
I hope these are helpful and I am more than excited to welcome a new chapter into my career and all the new lessons I will learn along the way!