Certain things kill any speech.

I know this blog is becoming a collection of my experiences in uni, but I feel very strongly about this and I promise to go back to some more general stuff in the future. But for now, let me have a bit of a rant over here.

It’s rare of students to attend every single lecture. Sometimes you just don’t feel like it. Sometimes you’re sick from last night. Sometimes you’re trying to get over a bad break up. The list goes on and on. The thing is, no lecturer actually expects you to go to every lecture. And I’m no exception. These past few weeks certain lectures I attend for one reason only. I know I won’t be studying at home, so if I come to half of the lectures, at least my conscience is calm. I’ve used that sentence so often recently, it’s becoming a joke between me and some of my fellow students, I should probably stop…

So, here I am, sitting and listening to a lecture, knowing I won’t read the additional literature, but I’ll be able to say that ‘hey, at least I attended!’ Not too many people here, as usual.  Before going into some detail, I have to say that during this particular lecture, pretty much everyone is either doing some other stuff or daydreaming and not exactly following anything. One guy catches my attention. I haven’t seen him before here. He stands out solely because he seems to be actually listening and being sort of active here. I swear to God, it’s the third time he’s sharpening that pencil! Oh, he takes out his phone and starts surfing facebook. The last person to seem to care just turned into one of us… Oh wait! I was wrong. He asked something! You can tell he’s trying to keep himself entertained. He’s fighting distractions and trying to focus using every thread in his body. Aaaand she just used aggressive tone on him after he tried to make a joke. Where your sense of humour at, woman?! You’ve got to respect the guy for trying though. I mean, the rest of us have given up on caring about this long ago. Seriously, I would be highly surprised if anyone told me they find this interesting and enjoy listening to these stories.

The other lecturer of this subject isn’t that bad though, even if the subject is fairly boring, at least he’s an awesome speaker and can grab our attention. Actually, I’ve noticed this odd thing. I usually prefer a male lecturer rather than a female. I’m not sure if it has anything to do with me being a female myself, but men just generally make better speakers. She just said ‘it sounds funny today’ with a tone of a robot. No emotion at all. No one in the audience even felt the need to do the polite nose exhale, that would normally follow a lame joke of someone in authority. But not here. I don’t even feel obliged to do that, it’s not awkward at all! And that wasn’t sarcasm. You know how sometimes you feel like you should come up to someone and talk to them if you’ve seen them somewhere before? Well, this isn’t one of those situations. And you know, I’m not even sure if it’s the boring subject, the not-exactly-most-gifted lecturer or the general vibe in this room. Might easily be all at once. Oh, but someone just exited. And let’s be honest, you don’t exactly rush out of a lecture if the speaker is good. I’m very far from being a good speaker myself, but here’s some things I believe she’s doing horribly wrong and that are annoying the hell out of me.

  1. You must vary the tone, timbre and volume of your voice. Monotony kills any speech, no matter how intriguing the subject might be. I’ve never seen anyone getting excited about a speech that sounds like one of those hour-long prayers.
  2. Visuals matter. If people don’t see anything interesting in front of them, the chances are, they won’t care about what you’re saying as much. Looks matter – starting with the slides, ending with your hair and including everything inbetween. Last semester I had this one lecturer who had a fairly odd looking hairstyle, to say the least. But you know what? I remember thinking – ‘I wonder what this guy with weird hair has to say’. And it doesn’t have to be something strange about your looks, either. This other lecturer would wear nice suits and fix his hair a lot during his speeches. And to be honest, that added with his passion for the subject and jokes was more than enough to have us all listening to his every word carefully.
  3. Say something is important. If you just keep on talking and talking, having everyone’s attention will be a difficult task. But as soon as you say ‘oh, this is very important’/’this is quite interesting’/’this will be in the test’, especially that last one, will turn everyone’s focus points back to you and your speech.
  4. React to your audience. If you can only catch eye contact with a couple of people, something is wrong. Ask people for their opinions. Even if we say we hate cold calls, every student knows a simple ‘John, what do you think about this?’ works very well.

Now that I have that out in the world, I can finally focus on midterms and my own presentations. Good stuff! Damn, what would I do without this blog?



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