Public Speaking: A Skill for Any Career

Dr. Emily Ancizek, better known as “Dr. A,” oversees the Introduction to Public Speaking course in the School of Media and Communication.

“I think public speaking is a skill you will use in pretty much any career. It’s an extremely important skill, even if you aren’t’ giving the types of speeches we teach in the class, at least knowing how to organize your thoughts and knowing how the spoken word is different than the written word helps in a lot of different careers,” said Ancizek. “The course is so foundational and so fundamental to the learning experience.”

She knew in high school that she wanted to join the field of communication; however, she often struggled with public speaking like many students do. During her first semester in college, Ancizek took a public speaking course.

“I was really nervous, I hadn’t done a lot of public speaking up to that point. I also didn’t know how to practice.” Her professor didn’t teach the class any study tips or tricks so she read note cards like many students prepare for other kinds of tests over and over. “When I went to give the speech, I stood up and looked at my classmates and froze. I forgot three quarters of my speech, I got a really bad grade and I realized at that point I needed to make some changes.”

Current students taking the course get to experience it differently than the students who came before them. In the Michael & Sara Kuhlin Center, the new home for the School of Media and Communication, Room 414 is the skills lab. This lab is furnished with lecture capture equipment that allows students to record a practice run of their speech, which they will then share with their class or on canvas to get feedback.

“Students who have more one-on-one help with their preparation of the speech, and students who are able to watch themselves end up giving better speeches and they retain more about what they’re doing well and what they need to work on,” she explained.

“The more engaged students are with each other the more comfortable they are presenting their speeches,” she added. This is why many communication courses push a lot of group work and class activities; these make the students confident with each other and establish relationships that lead to better and less nervous presentations.

While overseeing Introduction to Public Speaking, Ancizek also teaches many communication courses such as relational communication, family communication, communication and ethics, and communications in gender. Her past research examined the media constructions of breastfeeding and motherhood as well as he use of social networking for peer-to-peer and professional breastfeeding support.

She finds ways to incorporate her research into all of her teaching and noted that the subject is, “such an important construction that people need to be talking about right now, that it makes it really fun to teach.” Beyond teaching just her students about ethical communication in health care settings, and how impactful what a practioner says to a patient can be, she also had the opportunity to train nurse and lactation consultants to show what the interactions should and should not look like and how to be supportive in helping the mother.

Ancizek classifies herself as a “feminist television critic by training and by research,” but to this department she is much more than just that. She is crucial and important to the success of many students and faculty she interacts with each day.