Reciting influential speeches in presentations Presentations lasts two to three minutes

As she places her arms across her chest, freshman Zoe Blackwell recites one of Martin Luther King Jr's speeches. Freshmen Studies students were required to recite a well known speech by influential speakers to practice non-verbal communication skills. "I really liked this presentation and I think I did pretty good on it," Blackwell said. "I think doing a speech from such an influential person made the speech so much stronger." Photo Credit: Eriyale Williams

From Steve Jobs to Martin Luther King Jr., students in Mr. Henry Castillo’s Freshmen Studies class were required to recite a well-known speech as public speaking practice.

“I wanted students to recite a declamation speech, but give it their own personal flavor,” Castillo said.

Students were given a week and a half to prepare for their presentation. Instead of memorizing the speech, students were expected to focus on hand gestures, eye contact and volume.

“I decided to do a speech by Steve Jobs called ‘How to Live Before you Die,’” freshman Vicky Wang said. “In the speech he talks about three stories from his life dealing with love, loss and death. The stories are used to support his overall message–don’t waste time living someone else’s life, follow your heart and do what you love.”

Speeches could be by any influential person as long as it was school appropriate and approved by Castillo. In order to become comfortable with an audience, Castillo stressed that students consistently rehearse in their free time.

“I decided to create a challenge for myself by doing a poem by Harry Baker called ‘Paper People’ instead of an actual speech,” freshman Ramuel Tibayan said. “The poem discusses important topics about the world today, like governmental issues. However, since it was a poem it became more challenging to present the speech with the tongue twisters and keeping eye contact. ”

In the future, Castillo plans to continue working to improve students non-verbal communication skills.

“Public speaking is important because it allows students to advocate for themselves,” Castillo said. “When students have the tools necessary to preach what they care about, or to pursue their dreams or to represent themselves in a job interview then they are able to succeed in life. Everyone who communicates needs public speaking skills, and last time I checked, that is everyone.”

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