Growing Out of Public Speaking Fears!

Tuesday, April 20, 2021 - By: Emily N, Allard ‘22

When I arrived at Brentwood three years ago, I never intended to participate in Public Speaking or Model UN (MUN). Now, I get to wholeheartedly enjoy this Arts class every Monday, Wednesday, and Friday. I can vividly recall the very first speech I made in front of my class. I was extremely nervous, my voice was shaky, and I didn’t think I could get through it. But now, eight months later, I can confidently give a speech to any group of people thanks to Brentwood’s Public Speaking/MUN program.

I think that public speaking is a vital life skill that everybody should practice. My class is one that shares laughter every block, with the full engagement of the class and our wonderful teachers, Ms Cuk and Ms Legassicke.

Brentwood is the ideal place to perfect these skills as you get to try new things in the safe space of your classroom, with peers that you are comfortable to make mistakes in front of since everybody is always learning something new. Ms Cuk observes, “Public Speaking and MUN gives students valuable opportunities to express themselves and to voice their thoughts and ideas on real-world issues” which are things that not many young people have previous experience with.

I was not the only student who was intimidated by public speaking, and this was noted by Ms Legassicke because something she has “enjoyed the most in the Public Speaking/MUN course is that throughout the year, [she has] been able to watch many of the students in the group push their personal limits when it comes to speaking in front of a crowd.” Ms Cuk agrees that “It takes courage to speak in front of other people” and she can gladly add that the students in her classes have actively “supported and encouraged each other - even in the awkward moments.”

We have done a variety of assignments, such as a persuasive and an interpretive speech in term one, a newscast and a symposium in term two, and a free choice speech in term three. Longtime Public Speaking/MUN participant Callum M, Ellis ‘21, recalls that this class “has been an outlet in the past two years to practice and improve [his] ability to articulate under pressure” and he would definitely “endorse it to anyone looking to improve in that area.” While there are prompts for each assignment, everyone adds their own creative twist. To outsiders, this may seem like a lot of work, however, we always receive plenty of class time to complete our work without needing to do much work outside of the class. This is helpful because the course does not interfere with any other schoolwork, while everyone is acquiring lots of useful knowledge and new skills.

When we are not giving or listening to speeches we are still, without fail, having a blast! Ms Cuk and Ms Legassicke have made sure to teach us fun games that involve different areas of public speaking. Sometimes we get to tell stories using prompts such as random objects, or we do impromptu or after dinner speeches, and one time we even got to play Mafia, also known as Werewolf! I have enjoyed participating in all of these activities, and I can easily say that they have improved my capability to speak to a crowd!

Currently, the Public Speaking classes are working towards the upcoming Brentwood Model UN (B-MUN). Due to Covid-19, all MUNs this year have been virtual. Luckily, there are enough people enrolled in Public Speaking/MUN that we are able to host an in-person MUN, while staying socially distanced of course! B-MUN will be running through arts on Friday, April 30th, and students were given the prompt of revising and reforming Brentwood’s Code of Conduct. Everyone was able to sign up for a role, including positions such as the directors of different aspects of Brentwood like teaching and learning, admissions, student life, student leaders, houseparents, RFAs, alumni, and more! The students are able to individually write through their own lens on the Code of Conduct, and everyone will be given the chance to advocate their position!

Public speaking has been an opportunity to try something new and acquire important skills that I will take with me throughout my life: I am extremely appreciative that Brentwood offers such a fantastic course!

Emily N, Allard ‘22

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