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‘Relax and be yourself’: Lecturer advises Westminster students on public speaking

Matt Rich presents in front of a crowd in Gillmor Hall at 9:30 a.m. Photo courtesy of Gabriel Olivera. Photo description: A speaker stands by a podium while wearing a dark suit. He stands in front of a projector screen that displays “awkward to awesome” in bold letters.

Public speaking, or glossophobia, is one of the most commonly held situational fears among people, according to an article published by Verywell Health. Roughly 77% of the general population is affected by feelings of anxiety associated with public speaking, according to the article. 

Matt Rich highlighted ways to overcome glossophobia on campus Wednesday as a guest presenter for the event “Public Speaking: From Awkward to Awesome!” held from 8:00 a.m. to 10:00 a.m. in Florence J. Gillmor Hall.

Rich, president of the Society for Marketing Professional Services Education and business developer for R&O Construction, spoke to attendees and shared his knowledge on how to improve public speaking skills. 

“Relax and be yourself when you go to speak in public is the best advice I could give,” Rich said. “If you can get to that point, then everything else works.”

The goal of this speaker event was to teach people how to be more comfortable and better prepared while public speaking, according to the campus events webpage. Not everyone will be the best public speaker, but everyone can be better, according to Rich.

Good public speaking is honed through experience, practice and putting in the work before the time comes to talk, according to Rich.

Through exercises, Rich taught attendees how to communicate better and control their emotions when speaking. 

Rich talked about the ART technique to improve one’s speaking experience. The acronym stands for anticipate, recognize and take a deep breath before public speaking, according to Rich.

To tell a story, Rich said using the SAR technique (situation, action and result) can help people share a clear and central message to engage an audience.

The lecture ended with Rich’s advice for sharing information succinctly: people have much shorter attention spans nowadays, so it’s important to always engage the listener and be able to spread the desired message.

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Gabriel Oliveira is a senior at Westminster University majoring in communication who moved from Brazil, and loves playing basketball in front of his home crowd. He is excited to finish his college education and start the next chapter.

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