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Katarina Rothhorn
Katarina Rothhorn
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The first message I ever sent from my Northern Michigan University sanctioned email was to the editor-in-chief of the North Wind asking if there was any way I could join the staff. Classes hadn't even...

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The North Wind is an independent student publication serving the Northern Michigan University community. It is partially funded by the Student Activity Fee. The North Wind digital paper is published daily during the fall and winter semesters except on university holidays and during exam weeks. The North Wind Board of Directors is composed of representatives of the student body, faculty, administration and area media.

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Megan PoeApril 12, 2024

New group helps with speech anxiety

For many people, presenting in front of people can be overwhelming and stressful. NMU senior marketing major Matt Helland is in an upper level services marketing course where presentations are required.

“You go into a different world in a speech,” Helland said. “You kind of lose yourself.”

According to Helland, he has always wished he could gain more experience and practice with public speaking when working on a presentation.

“I was in a class where we’d have to present every week,” Helland said. “I wish I had more practice then.”

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Helland is like many other NMU students who are required to present in at least once class during their college careers. Practicing can be challenging, but for the first time at NMU, a student public speaking organization was created to help students practice and become comfortable with presenting in front of large audiences.

NMU student Dan L’Esperance, president of Powerful Public Speakers, wanted to create a positive atmosphere to any student who needed help with a class speech or presentation.

“I got the idea to do it when I noticed people in my classes struggling when they were up in front of everybody,” L’Esperance said. “They just needed more practice.”

Because the organization is new, the rest of the semester will be aimed at figuring out the logistics of the group, L’Esperance said. He expects 2 to 3 students at the first few meetings and will base them around what the students expect from the group.

L’Esperance said that some meetings may be more informational about public speaking if nobody has an upcoming presentation. Others will be dedicated to practicing and peer-review, he said.

“Our goal is to make people better at public speaking,” L’Esperance said. “If not better, at least more comfortable.”

L’Esperance said that he hopes to partner with Superiorland Toastmasters Club, a local club with the same goals as Powerful Public Speakers in order to provide more help and advice to students.

“Students get nervous presenting to teachers,” L’Esperance said. “We won’t be grading them, so they can relax a little.”

Claudia Orr, the faculty advisor for Powerful Public Speakers said that although the organization is in its infancy, the group will still be helpful to students.  L’Esperance was a student in her class when he decided he wanted to start the group.

“I was thrilled that he was able to analyze and look for the need for public speaking,” Orr said. “It’s my area of interest and I knew they needed a faculty member.”

Since the organization is student based, Orr will be more of a resource than anything, she said. The students will be helping each other to make it a more relaxing environment, Orr said.

“Public speaking is a major source of stress for many people,” Orr said.

Almost everyone has to speak in public at one point in their lives and Powerful Public Speakers will help students develop techniques and a build confidence, Orr said.

The difference between Powerful Public Speakers and many other student organizations is the need for students to make the choice to come to a meeting and work on a presentation, Orr said. While others help students, this organization runs solely on the idea of helping them with their public speaking, Orr said.

Helland attended the first Powerful Public Speakers meeting on April 5 to help work out the kinks in an upcoming presentation.

“I’d like to gain experience and have a positive environment to be critiqued,” Helland said.

The other students at the meeting helped Helland with Powerpoint organization as well as presenting techniques.

Powerful Public Speakers meets every Tuesday from 8-10 p.m. in Jamrich 225.

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