Podium Pizzazz

February 19, 2010 at 5:37 pm Leave a comment

Podium Pizazz

Janet B. Rodgers, Head of Voice and Speech Training at VCU’s Theatre Department


  • Always ask if people can hear to avoid “reaching with the ear” and ear fatigue
  • Combating nerves
    • Public speaking rates next to death and divorce as the most frightening thing to the human psyche
    • Cannot control heart or stomach responses to nerves, but can control breathing
      • Take deep, slow breaths
  • Don’t think of people in their underwear
    • Imagine the humanity in each person, and reach out to that humanity
  • Posture
    • Stand up straight
      • Posture has a lot to do with tension
      • Schlumping strains vocal muscles
    • Don’t lock knees, because that locks neck
      • Wear flat shoes that ground you to earth to avoid shaking knees
    • Relax tongue (avoid pressing to roof of mouth) to relax jaw
    • Move jaw with hand; give up the jaw’s will to the hand (something advised by JFK’s speech tutor)
  • Dry mouth
    • If you’re going to speak and drink, do so out of a glass, never a can
    • Roll tongue to stimulate salivation
  • Fluttering stomach: use the restroom before presenting!
  • Knowing your material is one of the most important things for an effective presentation
    • If you like/know your material, you know more than the audience; take the focus off yourself and put it onto the audience
    • Practice out loud, not in head or by reading
      • If necessary, make a podium out of books at home and present to the cat
  • Don’t have everything on your PowerPoint, otherwise why are you there?
    • Put a cartoon up and say, “Okay, let’s talk” as a way of segueing into discussion
  • Always wind up at the end to recap what has been said
  • Circles of interaction
    • 1st circle: reading, on phone: totally self-involved
    • 3rd circle: “the bluff”; cocktail party behavior, insecurity
    • 2nd circle: what we should be during our interactions with other people: concerned with how what you are saying affects the other person
      • Have to allow time for info to sink in
        • Don’t speak quickly; observe punctuation
        • Better to have too little info than too much, which will force you to rush
        • Important to have eye contact with everyone in the audience
        • Projecting
          • Vocal cords
            • As we age, the vocal cords get rigid
            • Humming and chewing at the same time helps to counteract this
            • Don’t clear throat as this slams vocal cords together
              • This means you are becoming overly sensitized to the natural phlegm in the throat; it’s better to just swallow
  • “Dead spaces” like carpeted rooms and upholstered furniture absorb the voice
  • Operate on words
    • Lift them, taffy them out, punch them out
    • These techniques are lost during public speaking due to nervousness
    • Movement
      • If using a script, highlight what you most want to say and PRACTICE
        • If standing behind podium, use thumb to track progress
  • Don’t pace; come out from behind podium and move into audience to make a strong point
  • Librarian questions
    • “How do you stop students from texting during class?”
      • ask them to turn off all electronic devices at the beginning
  • “How do you keep students engaged during a presentation?”
    • set your own rules in regards to demanding attention; you have to give up some control if you want students to take notes, follow along on computer, etc.
    • get to know 2-3 students as they are coming in to get names, then ask, “Can I ask you a question during the presentation?”
  • “Any suggestions for teaching remotely?”
    • Think of Franny and Zooey: “Do it for the fat lady” (or have some particular person in mind)

Entry filed under: Uncategorized.

notes from 2/15/10 BI observation @ local community college On being a righteous freedom-fighting librarian

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