Roger Thayer Stone Center For Latin American Studies

Tulane University

Latin American Studies' Undergraduate Conference (TUCLA) Provides a Model for Teaching Public Speaking

April 24th, 2018

From the CELT Newsletter (Monday, April 23rd 2018) Thoughts from the Field:
The Consummate Un-Naturalness of Public Speaking
By Edie Wolfe

As the end of the semester approaches, so do the inevitable final presentations. Despite the obvious pedagogic value, oral presentations tend to inspire ambivalence, if not dread, in professors and students alike. While a few student presenters may hit the mark and deliver an organized and compelling presentation in readily comprehensible language and with a lively cadence, the majority will be unpracticed; presenters will fail to make eye contact, fidget and drone on nervously, reading from text-heavy power-point slides, while failing to isolate a clear point or purpose. Throwing salt in the wound, they will run over their allotted time.

Public speaking is an essential skill, vital to success in virtually every profession and critical to democratic participation. As a pedagogic exercise, it allows students to build confidence, practice critical logic and reasoning, and take ownership of their research and ideas. Yet we tend to treat speaking as natural, as an innate ability, or as something that simply improves through repetition, and not something to be learned, practiced, and refined. Even less effort goes into teaching listening—an ability that is arguably as important than speaking. A quick glance at the slouched posture and vacant stares of a near-comatose student audience confirms our dual failures. So, what do we do?

To read the full article, click here.

To learn more about public speaking within the Stone Center, check out this past year’s TUCLA Conference and what some of the students had to say regarding their experience.

General Latin America + People
Nora Lustig
Professor - Economics, Samuel Z. Stone Chair of Latin American Economics