The top tip for students speaking in front of a class from Case Western Reserve University faculty: Remember the ears—those of the audience, that is.
Classmates—and professors—can't use a highlighter to note the important points in an oral presentation, and not many can take notes as fast as someone actually speaks. So the talk has to be clear, direct and easy to recall, according to "Speak: How to Talk to Classmates and Others," a new, compact primer on oral presentations that the university's SAGES' program specially commissioned and is distributing free this semester.
And since studies show most students lose interest about 10 or 15 minutes into a lecture, short is good, too. As fun as "Speak" is, public speaking is a serious course at Case Western Reserve.
"Our students need to graduate knowing how to speak with clarity and confidence in public," says Peter Whiting, the director of SAGES, the university's undergraduate general education curriculum. "Strong oral communication skills obviously are important in college. But they are even more so beyond college at work and in the community—reporting on a business issue or research, instructing colleagues on a technical issue or making an effective case for an issue or policy direction."
Indeed, the Association of American Colleges and Universities (AACU) considers skill at oral communications one of the "essential" outcomes for students in the 21st century. Case Western's SAGES program has been recognized by the AACU for its approach to refining skill at oral communication. At the university, proficiency with oral communications is a critical expectation for all graduates.
"Speak: How to Talk to Classmates and Others" has been developed by the SAGES staff and author, William M. Doll, Ph.D., J.D., a professional speechwriter who is also a Presidential Fellow teaching in SAGES. The primer is designed by Epstein Design Partners, a Cleveland graphic design firm.
Instructors will be distributing the primer to Case Western Reserve students in their SAGES seminars during the first weeks of the fall semester. It will be available to other students soon afterward.
For more information about the primer, contact Peter Whiting.
Case Western Reserve University is committed to the free exchange of ideas, reasoned debate and intellectual dialogue. Speakers and scholars with a diversity of opinions and perspectives are invited to the campus to provide the community with important points of view, some of which may be deemed controversial. The views and opinions of those invited to speak on the campus do not necessarily reflect the views of the university administration or any other segment of the university community.