Throughout our final year, every Tuesday, we have been inspired to make a change. Whether that be for the environment, for our peers or for ourselves; we’ve not just been asked but we’ve been persuaded to make a change towards a better world. From considering donating to animal rescue centres, showing the impact of coffee on farmers, to finding out Sophie Williams is a secret black belt in Karate; every week we have learnt new things about each other, but also understood what mattered to each individual.
So why on earth were we standing up, every week, like a barrel of nerves to persuade one another? I’d love to say we volunteered happily. But this isn’t quite true, in fact, Arran made us! For our 3rd year module: Communication for Leadership we needed to deliver 5 speeches in our group. I can still remember my eyes widening, lip quivering and thinking ‘WTF is he asking of us?’.
But this was the point. Not to make our pre-existing anxiety towards public speaking worse, but learn and expand on rhetoric skills; so that we can be more comfortable in the inevitable upcoming scenarios like job interviews! I can honestly say it worked. As Megan Evans said “this has really helped me towards my future profession, as soon I’ll be needing to stand and talk to the younger generation everyday”! So you’re probably wondering, what were the topics of the speeches, if they’re so life affirming?
The finale today, had a range of topics. Ben kicked today’s session off with a visual presentation on History of Rugby. The humble beginnings of Rugby; how it went from only just becoming a professional sport in 1995 to potentially taking over Football in the next 20 years or so.The anecdotal stories of his own experiences, growing up as a rugby player made the topic warm and was certainly relevant with this years Six Nations dominating our weekends! Another visual presentation was Megan’s, who used metanoia, to exhibit her doubts about her parents’ taking in a rescue dog. She revealed to us, that although the RSPCA are initiating change by creating welfare acts to protect animals; they also destroy half of the animals. Her message was that every 30 seconds people are refreshing social networks, when they could stop being oblivious and donate, fund-raise and show vigilance as a potential solution!
Charlotte Ball composed a Metaphorical speech on future jobs and success, she delivered it as an Easter egg hunt; filled with heart-warming and delicious similes, where each ‘egg’ was represented as a job! Her light-hearted approach not only made us want to devour a packet of mini eggs, but also inspired us to apply for ‘eggs’ that at a level achievable to us, where we can also adapt to our environment. Most importantly, she taught us not to put all our eggs in one basket! Jessica decided to recycle her old metaphorical speech, next to cardboard boxes of passata and “self-pity”; she believes in second chances and ‘do-overs’; a chance to change the past if you will. Her speech was full of self-correction which is the purpose of second chances; these metanoias’ went from her own experiences as a mother, to ‘pinching the spinning top of resentment’. She finally concluded on when life gives you lemons, don’t make lemonade, exchange them with the grocer for juicy apples and pears to make a crumble!
Following this was Sophie’s take on a Graduation speech; filled with lots of advice about how to tackle future situations weaved in with lovely anecdotes. From £1 jaeger bombs, napping in MooMoos bathrooms, Sophie summed up how her University experience has only made her more ambitious to teach future generations about the ways of the world. Charlotte Haines persuaded us that in a selfish world, we need to carry out spontaneous acts of kindness, her repetition of ‘paying it forward’ engaged us want to shake the pillars of our society. She reminded us that we should think more about what we can do for others, than what they can do for us. These acts of kindness aren’t constrained to class stratification, it can be as simple as smiling more, to giving back our time!
Matthias, always contradicting the norm, ironically he delivered an opening speech for the finale! His speech was a narrative of his journey, how he set sail as writer but lost his way, bumping into rocky poets, but eventually arriving into the port of play writing! This journey has been rewarded with plays showcased the Everyman, his pieces are coming to life and I’m sure we’ll be seeing this life-long learners’ work in West End theatres. I also must mention that this rock metal fan, has a burning passion for Justin Timberlake, I hope to one day see a ‘Can’t stop this feeling’ metal mash up!
Now, we must raise a glass or two, and congratulate all the students’ who delivered such passionate speeches. As Charlotte Ball says: “none of us could ever think, standing up in front of an audience can be a natural and normal thing”. But hats off to Arran, as he has made such a nerve-racking situation a truly fun experience, converting awkward silences into comfortable pauses perfectly timed for rhetorical persuasion.