Evaluate YOUR Speaking in the Community
I am the co-president of the Asian Cultural Association here at Whitman and I lead weekly meetings. In one meeting, on September 12, 2007, I had club members give updates on what was going on in their committees. There were the film presentation, cooking workshop, dance, Harvest Moon Festival, and Hapa Project committees. Afterwards, (which is the section of the meeting and my speaking that I will be evaluating in this paper) I read sections of an article on the rights of illegal immigrants (“As deportation pace rises, illegal immigrants dig in,” The New York Times, May 1, 2007) and the parts that I didn’t read I summarized. I read this article so that the club members could have discuss it, as well as other topics such as “How does this make you feel?” “What is ‘American’”? and “Do you consider yourself to be an ‘American’”?
I picked this article because of its pertinence to the members of my club (in terms of illegal immigration) and also brought out the issue of “American” identity and therefore Asian-American identity. I think I did a good job picking an article that was relevant to my club and that initiated the discussion I wanted the club to have. It is hard to pick an article that people will have enough opinions on and interest in for them to voice these opinions. Considering people did voice their opinions and we had a pretty good discussion, I would say that I picked a good article.
I think I also did well reading the article in an unbiased way. I intentionally wanted to sound unbiased so that other people could formulate their own opinions about the article instead of being swayed by the way I read it. By the end, when we had our discussion, I didn’t want everyone to have the same opinion because of the tone I used when I read the article—this would have made for a very uninteresting discussion. In a way, this presentation was like an informative speech in the way I delivered it, although I recognize that the article itself was biased.
I also think I did a good job of picking sections of the article to read (the article was pretty lengthy and I though it would be boring and inappropriate for our meeting if I had sat there and read the article in its entirety). In these sections both of the opposing view points were portrayed and some background about the issue at hand was explained. I filled in the rest of the background myself by summarizing other pertinent sections of the article.
However, there are definitely a few things that I could improve upon for next time. I think, for the meeting as a whole, I need to work on reading my audience. I need to tell when I’m talking too much and boring my club members, and then make changes accordingly. This is why I decided ahead of time, when preparing to read this article, to only read some sections of the article and not the whole thing, so that I didn’t bore people by giving them more information than was necessary for the discussion.
I think I could also improve on my delivery, more specifically, in sounding more confident. Even though I am co-president and in a position of leadership, I feel like when I’m running a meeting I don’t sound very confident. I know that when I was reading the article at this meeting, I was preoccupied with whether I was boring my audience, if they were interested in the article, and if they were even listening to me. All these doubts caused me to speak quieter than I should have and to diminish my presence, which makes for a weak and not very engaging delivery.
I also think I could have used more eye contact. I pretty much just sat there and read the sections I had picked out. I only looked up occasionally, when I was summarizing and had to think of the words on my own. In order to increase eye contact with the audience during the meeting, I would have had to practice more out loud. In terms of practice and preparation, I just picked the sections that I wanted to read and read them in my head a few times. Eye contact would have made my presentation stronger, more engaging, more interesting, and probably a lot easier to pay attention to.
And if I had practiced out loud more in preparation for this meeting, the delivery would have been a lot smoother. I wouldn’t have stumbled over the words as much as I did and the entire presentation would have had better flow.
In general, in reading this article to my club members, I think I did a good job of getting the information across for the purposes of the discussion. However, the delivery was pretty uninteresting and could have used much improvement.