Public Speaking & Leadership by Michael (Q2)

The High School Public Speaker
Course Description:

This course prepares students for academic, informal, and professional situations where possessing excellent speaking skills will yield opportunities. Students will participate in six engaging lessons designed to stimulate self discovery, instill confidence, and build fundamental leadership skills. Topics include: employing literature as a lens for introspection, identifying and capitalizing on what an audience seeks, and using one's own interests and background to establish commonality. Students will learn speaking skills aimed at 1-to-1, 1-to-few, and 1-to-many audiences, verbal and non-verbal communication, and techniques of oral presentation.

Lesson 1: Students will discover their personality type, possible suitable careers, and careers to avoid. Each student will present a dialogue to the class regarding their findings, individual background, and their personal areas of interest. Students will engage in a mock interview with a university alumnus of their dream school and be asked a series of questions pertaining to their candidacy and aspirations. Students will also engage in a dialogue with a trusted instructor and be taught the correct approach of requesting a letter of recommendation.

Reading: The Last Question by Isaac Asimov
As one progresses through life, there are certain questions that are seemingly unanswerable. Only until later stages are reached will the answers reveal themselves. Similarly, the acquisition of knowledge may be viewed through the same lens. The learning process can be a difficult and time consuming process. However, key skills and knowledge gained may serve you well in future unanticipated and critical situations.

Lesson 2: Students will be taught to give a compelling first impression to a new friend or acquaintance.

  • Students will engage in a series of brief lightning talks on their areas of expertise.

Getting to know students' familiarity of specific subject matter will enable them to tap into these experiences and build confidence. Whatever the particular area of subject matter may be: Italian food, vintage cars, competitive college admissions, stamp collecting, etc., one trait all successful public speakers have in common is extreme familiarity with topics of their choosing.

Reading: The Gift of the Magi by O. Henry
True love cannot be determined through monetary value. Rather, it is demonstrated through strength of the heart. Similarly, it can be argued that deep knowledge and the confidence that comes with it cannot be faked -- nor is there a monetary price that is necessarily associated with it. Like love, deep knowledge and having confidence in yourself can be powerful and overwhelming.

Lesson 3: Students will be engaged in a college admissions interview and receive feedback from the university's admissions board. Students will also engage in a job interview and receive questions and feedback from the employer and board of directors.

  • Students will also participate in a mock presentation for running for a profile leadership position: whether it be for a club, their graduating class, or a volunteer organization.
  • Students will be provided assessments regarding their performance in key public speaking criteria categories: clarity, personal style, and persuasiveness.

Reading: The Nightingale and the Rose, by Oscar Wilde

Lesson 4: Each student will identify an event in his or her past they are proud of and use it to establish commonality with the audience. All great public speakers have several important characteristics in common, one of which is unbeatable self confidence. In order to build self confidence, students must understand themselves -- their past, their future hopes and aspirations, and their dreams. They must be able to connect with their audiences and channel a range of emotions.

  • Students will provide short presentations regarding an event of profound sadness and/or disappointment in their lives as well as an additional talk celebrating an important accomplishment.

Reading: The Celebrated Jumping Frog of Calaveras County by Mark Twain
The art of salesmanship can mean the difference of captivating an audience or loosing its attention.

Lesson 5: 

  • Students will brainstorm possible product ideas they will sell in a hypothetical online store based on each student's actual familiarity with the products.
  • Students will pitch a business idea to a group of investors and future business partners. They will be asked how the business will operate, and what kinds of teammates they need.

These product ideas will be specific to each student's interests as well as familiarity with a product. For example, if a student has an interest in software or vintage cars, they will attempt to sell software or vintage cars to the class and clearly present their arguments as well as product's background information. At the end of each presenter's session, the rest of the class will vote whether they were indeed sold on the product idea, or at the very least, whether the speaker's pitch piqued their interest in the product. Another round of presentations will ensue -- this time, the instructor as well as the rest of the class will act as a potential customers of the product and ask the seller a series of questions testing the speaker's knowledge and selling ability. Students will be introduced to the 3-pronged concept of building a financial foundation during their college careers and beyond: landing a high-paying day job, investments, and operating a profitable side business.

Reading: "The Daemon Lover" by Shirley Jackson

Lesson 6:

  • Students will be taught essentials skills in order to gain a critical (paid) summer internships during their Sophomore and Junior year summers.
  • Students will participate in a mock interview with a corporate or institutional interviewer who will ask them a series of questions regarding their abilities and desire for the job.
  • Students will be asked to describe a time when they wanted something very badly and whether or not they achieved the desired outcome.

The difference between paid vs unpaid (worthless) internships will be explained and students will receive coaching on the exact steps that are to be followed in order to acquire a competitive and coveted position. Students' individual backgrounds, skills, speaking capabilities, and broader college application objectives will be carefully scrutinized. Only the best and most suitable opportunities will be targeted, and the instructor will provide specific examples of actual valuable vs time-wasting work experience.