A Greencastle native and a 2017 graduate of Wabash College, Brand Selvia is passionate about history, conversation and classic cars. Nicknamed "Brando" by family and friends, Selvia loves chatting over a cup of coffee, as well as joyriding in his 1974 Volkswagen Beetle.
Last week, our group focused on public speaking -- which, for many, can be daunting.
It can be scary because 1) you are speaking in front of a group of people, and 2) it can become inevitable in your head that you might do something that is embarrassing.
I want to focus on the "in your head" element of the second part. Especially if you're an introvert like me, it can be easy to psych yourself out -- and feel like you'll fall apart.
We started with some encouragement from rhetoric professor Jennifer Abbot, who provided content for the 2016 Montgomery County Leadership Academy. She wrote that we should think of public speaking as an opportunity, not as a death warrant.
That opportunity is one through which we express ourselves and encourage dialogue.
We watched this TED Talk by sociologist Amy Cuddy, who discussed a study she conducted with other researchers in 2010. They focused on whether people who did "power poses" (just like Superman or Wonder Woman) could feel more empowered:
The concept of "power posing" is controversial. Other researchers have evidence that it doesn't have a direct effect on cognition (i.e. understanding) or one's actual work performance. In other words, doing so doesn't induce increased levels of testosterone.
However, I do not think the idea behind power posing should be ignored altogether.
What Cuddy and her colleagues were trying to relate was whether having an open sense of confidence could actually affect those outcomes. The point, here, is that the effectiveness of a speech can really depend on the presenter's attitude and comfort.
This is where "Fake it till you make it" and attaining internal power come into play.
I think Cuddy tells a compelling story about how you can become the thing you're doing just through the repetition of it. Though it is certainly anecdotal and not scientific, she highlights the importance of connecting with and encouraging others.
We then had our first assignment. We were asked to give a later extemporaneous speech (using prepared notes if needed) about a topic that mattered to us personally.
When we did our presentations this past Wednesday, I was struck by how each of us let our guards down and spoke openly -- and sometimes emotionally -- about these things. It stressed to me how important an open, non-judgmental forum can become.
I remember Lynn Ringis -- who is leading our sessions -- commenting that it was a great discussion because of the passion she saw. I don't think we werefaking it at all; rather, we just felt comfortable sharing our thoughts and perspectives with each other.
I know that our group was small. It wasn't like speaking during an Ubben Lecture at DePauw. But I think we all feel a little more confident that we're supposed to be there.