This past week classes ended and in each public speaking class I gave my “please make this class last the rest of your life” speech. Most students look at me a little funny when I say that because for many of them the last class is a day of celebration. Many of them are thinking: “Yay! All done with this one!” Believe me, the last day of class is a celebration for me, too! As much as I enjoy teaching, I also take great pleasure in doing many different things and when the semester comes to a close I always have a long list of things I want to accomplish outside of the classroom. But the directive to extend the class is my way of reminding students that public speaking training really never ends. Mark Twain said, “All good public speakers were once bad public speakers” and though I don’t agree completely (some people are pretty good speakers as soon as they begin talking, I’ve noticed) I agree with the idea that practice makes everyone a better public speaker. Keep doing it, I say to the students (and I’m telling you, too). Each time you stand up to speak you are improving your skills. It is a lot like exercise: the more you do, the more fit you become and the better able you will be to exercise and feel fit longer.
If you are a professor of speech, a student of communication or a practitioner of public speaking, you will want to become a member of the Pennsylvania Communication Association. Every year for the past seventy years, PCA (formerly SCAP) has held a convention and has published a journal, The Annual. This year the PCA convention will be held October 22-24 at East Stroudsburg University. There will be plenty of panels on a wide variety of communication topics. Check out the website, and plan to submit your paper or panel to an interest group by the end of this month. It will be a great opportunity for you to stretch your public speaking muscles and become a better public speaker. You’ll also meet many communication professionals both from the academic world and practitioners who professionally communicate as a main focus of their work. Joining PCA is another way you can make that entry-level speech class you had in college last for the rest of your life. It would be great to see you in East Stroudsburg in October.
Remember: Speak Up and Speak Well!