Confident speakers share their secrets

November 3rd, 2014

Do you know how to wow a crowd by combining tricolon with anaphora, or how haptics can engage an audience? Students can learn how to use these tools of effective public speaking in a new module of the Nottingham Advantage Award (NAA).

The module is run by the Public Speaking Society — the first time a part of the Award programme has been set up and led by students.

Jonathan Jones, a committee member of the Public Speaking Society, said he approached the NAA team with the idea last year and was asked to outline the module.

He said it was the first time students had been offered the opportunity to lead a Nottingham Advantage Award module. The course  — which is also run by society committee members Tim Fogarty, Ziyad Yehia and Ali Pearson and co-presidents Alex Rosu and Rohan Tharakan — has proved a hit, with modules booked up for this year. It is led by Rohan, a final year medical student, whose goal is to get students speaking in public with the confidence of orators like Barack Obama.

Students are taught the key skills of public speaking and assessed on their progress. Over five sessions they learn rhetorical devices such as use of tricolon —  presenting information or phrases in groups of three — and anaphora, where a word or a set of words are repeated as a coda at the beginning of every sentence.

President Obama’s inauguration speech memorably combined both devices:

“For us, they packed up their few worldly possessions and travelled across oceans in search of a new life. For us, they toiled in sweatshops and settled the West; endured the lash of the whip and ploughed the hard earth. For us, they fought and died, in places like Concord and Gettysburg; Normandy and Khe Sahn.”

The course also covers voice control and the importance of posture and body language, for example, haptics, or how to add emphasis with your hands.

Jonathan, a third year Psychology and Philosophy student, joined the Public Speaking Society after he became treasurer and then president of the Capoeira (a martial art from Brazil) Society and wanted to learn how to address its meetings more effectively.

He hopes the success and popularity of the module will see it expanded so more students can benefit and added: “The ability to speak confidently in public and give effective presentations is a valuable skill.”

Hayley Williams, Students’ Union Employability Development Manager, and the module’s convenor, was first approached by Jonathan about the idea.

She said:  “Public speaking is something not all students get to practise as part of their course so it’s great that students now have the opportunity to practise this skill and receive feedback on how they can improve.

“It’s been really exciting to be involved in the creation of this module — the NAA’s first society-led module. The enthusiasm shown by Rohan and Jonathan was really what persuaded us to take this idea forward and create the module. Students learn best when the learning is delivered in a creative and engaging way and who better to do that than students themselves?”

Rohan said: “Public speaking is easy! We teach a few simple techniques that will make anyone into an incredible speaker. We want to pass on these techniques to as many people as possible, and so it’s been an absolute pleasure to work with the Nottingham Advantage Award to help further this goal.”

The Nottingham Advantage Award aims to enrich students’ experience of University while equipping them with valuable life and work skills. Its 150 modules focus on career skills, mentoring, cultural awareness, entrepreneurship, sustainability, volunteering and work experience. It is supported by Impact: The Nottingham Campaign as part of a commitment to enhance the Nottingham experience and to make our graduates more competitive in the jobs market.

More on the public speaking module at:

Public Speaking Society:

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