PANIC AT THE PODIUM: Workshop attendees de-stress over public speaking

May 1—Northeastern State University partnered with the Tahlequah Public Library to help residents overcome anxiety centered on public speaking.

Elaina Ross, an NSU communications and media studies assistant professor, held the Tuesday, April 30 presentation.

"Part of our job at the university is to provide service," Ross said. "Teaching, research, and service are the three tenants of the position at the university, so in terms of service, my goal today is to provide information and my expertise to the public."

Ross talked about various techniques to reduce anxiety with public speaking. Some of the methods came from basic preparations prior to the event, and learning not to fidget while keeping a neutral stance.

"Unfortunately, speaking anxiety is not something you can really completely conquer, but our goal in our classes, as well as at things like this, is to just help people learn techniques to manage the anxiety and to really prepare to be successful and to help build confidence in themsleves," Ross said.

This was not the first time for Ross to teach the workshop; it was a condensed version of a section from a Fundamentals of Oral Communication course.

Amy Brownell said she attended the event because she often has to give presentations at her job as a youth services counselor.

"The biggest takeaway was that you obviously just have to practice," Brownell said.

Brownell said she sometimes speaks too fast in public. One way Ross said people can stop this from happening is by practicing speaking slowly, and the presenter's voice will naturally speed up during the presentation. Brownell said this was a tip she had never heard before and she plans to practice it in the future.

Tahlequah Public Library Technology Specialist Gerran Walker said the library hosts a whole array of activities for children and adults. Walker said this workshop helps people who deal with the nerve-wracking experience of public speaking for free.

The library plans to hold more adult workshops and activities, similar to this week's presentation, over the next few months for the summer reading program, which begins in June.

"So at least you know a little bit about how to prepare for a speech," Walker said. "It can help you when you are on the spot trying to do it and you're stumbling over your words or get confused, since you've already prepared a little bit. We really hope people get something out of these programs."