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Coyote Congress Influences School Spirit

Speeches for COM 101 conducted virtually

Adapting to the online environment, Communications 101/102 teacher Henry Castillo is finding ways to give students the experience of public speaking from a virtual classroom
Practicing her speech on female harassment, junior Lizeth Ontiveros makes sure to include hand gestures at chest level. Students needed to include hand gestures, use an expressive voice, and keep a consistent pace, to earn a good grade. “Being in COM 101 while online is a little bit conflicting because we can’t physically be there to express ourselves for our speeches,” Ontiveros said. “However, I am excited to get into speeches and especially the first one because I am passionate about my topic on [female] harassment and I am looking forward to delivering it.”Photo Credit: Lizeth Ontiveros

The nervousness and fear of speaking in front of a live audience nearly every student has experienced, whether it be before a presentation, speech, or even just asking a question in class. 

Helping students combat the fear of public speaking, teacher Henry Castillo has students deliver speeches in COM101. However, with school online, students will be presenting through Google Meet

“I help prepare my students to combat glossophobia by offering students several opportunities to speak in front of their peers,” Castillo said. “I’ve observed that most students are afraid of public speaking because they’re not used to it; this phenomenon makes sense because we tend to be apprehensive [about] new experiences. The ‘No Ums or Uhs’ challenge I do permits students the chance to eschew filler words from their vernacular and also to present in class on a weekly basis.”

For their first speech, students will perform a simple declamation of their choice, delivering a famous speech to the class. The speech is required to be around two to three minutes with ten seconds of contingency time afterward if someone exceeds the allotted time. 

“Honestly virtual speeches aren’t that bad since there’s a lot of pressure on you in person, but since it is online it will help alleviate the stress for everyone,” senior Kaylani Dai said. “I’ve been practicing nonverbal gestures with my TEDTalk ‘We Should All Be Feminists’ because it really gave me a positive vibe and I like how it promotes equality.” 

Although there are concerns regarding internet issues, students can start their speech over or complete a make up speech the following week. 

“The biggest challenge will be internet connectivity, audio/video issues and whatnot,” Castillo said. “If a student’s internet connection cuts off in the middle of their speech, they’re going to have to start over, which is frustrating, but necessary.”

General expectations of this speech include having chest level hand gestures and delivery, but students are expected to maintain eye contact by looking directly into the camera. Virtual speeches begin today and students will be expected to dress professionally. 

“I feel like virtual speeches are easier than face to face because you don’t have to necessarily look at everybody,” senior Jayvee Casio said. “I have been preparing constantly and rehearsing my speech, Elon Musk’s commencement speech which talks about his success and taking risks, so I can recite it under the allotted time.”

Even though this is not the ideal situation for a communications class, Castillo is working to make the experience in his class feel as regular as possible.

“I believe that students will approach this class with a little bit less anxiety,” Castillo said. “Naturally, a lot of the glossophobia, or fear of public speaking, that people harbor is centered on delivering a speech in front of a live audience, physically. I think students will benefit in the sense that perhaps they won’t feel as anxious knowing that they will be delivering a speech in front of a live audience, but it will be in the comfort of their own home.”

Are you afraid of public speaking?

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