Communications class helps students

Josh Echt

At the beginning of the Fall 2005 semester, an Introduction to Human Communication student told instructor Erin Kleman she dreaded going to class.

At the end of the semester, the student told Kleman she was becoming an organizational communication major.

“A lot of students have had bad experiences with public speaking,” Kleman said.

Rozell Duncan, communication studies undergraduate coordinator, said students can overcome their fears by:

– knowing their material

– practicing in front of a mirror

– tape-recording their voices

– practicing a speech in front of a friend

“Practicing in front of a friend is important because you get feedback,” Duncan said. “Sometimes you do something during a practice that needs to be corrected.”

Students should aim to make three to four points during a typical five- to six-minute speech. They also need 10 sources to successfully get through a five- to six-minute presentation, she said.

Important personality traits needed during speech-giving are the ability to curb stage fright in given situations and organize researched material into a coherent presentation, Duncan said.

“Organizational skills are as important as personality,” she said. “The ability to integrate material into the speech is as important as giving the speech.”

The main function of Introduction to Human Communication is to help students overcome their speaking fears, Duncan said.

“Students have a general fear of speaking because they just don’t know what it entails,” Duncan said. “This class gives students background information about speaking, and it teaches them how to research a topic.”

Kleman, who taught the class from Fall 2003 to Fall 2005, said the course contains three large speeches, including a 20-minute group presentation. Class size is around 22 students, she said.

“The important thing is getting the students to know each other and work together,” Kleman said. “The class starts out with smaller speaking assignments before major speeches are given.”

Kleman said the best part of the class was seeing scared kids mature into public speakers over a semester.

“I enjoy knowing I had a small part helping their speaking experience,” she said.

Contact general assignment reporter Josh Echt at [email protected].