The power of public speech

Public speaking is a powerful tool for UD students to learn. Photo by Henry Gramling.

Personal reflections on the importance and versatility of public speaking

Sophia Koch, a senior business major who has an extensive past in debate and speech practice, is now UD’s public speech coach. Koch has excelled in many forms of speaking: public speaking since 6th grade, was regionally and nationally ranked in multiple competitions, and was speech coach and debate captain of her high school club.

She offers a three session workshop series titled Confidence in Communication: Unlocking Your Inner Orator to help students master this important skill. Koch’s goal is to provide her peers with a toolbox to use in all instances of public speaking.

Some people are more inclined towards public speaking because of their personality or upbringing and seem so comfortable speaking in front of others and natural at connecting. Despite public speaking being considered one of the most challenging skills to master, it is crucial in many instances of today’s society.

As Koch said, “I promise you that even those who seem as if public speaking is the most natural thing to them deal with nerves. The fact that 75% of people rank fear of public speaking over fear of death exemplifies this. My goal is to give my peers tools to manage these nerves so that they can speak confidently and effectively.”

The art of effectively communicating ideas to a diverse audience can be a daunting task, as it requires not only confidence and eloquence but also a deep understanding of the subject matter. The difficulty in public speaking lies in the vulnerability it exposes. Standing in front of an audience with all eyes and ears focused on you can trigger a lot of emotions and responses, including anxiety and self-doubt. Overcoming these fears requires practice and time to embrace the discomfort.

I am a junior Classics major and although I have had to do it several times, public speaking is still one of my biggest fears. This semester, I had to give a presentation for one of my classes, and weeks before I had to present, I could feel the anxiety building up whenever I thought about it. Although I did not want to open up to my weakness in this realm, I knew I needed to practice.

I signed up for a speech coach session with Koch to work on my presentation and have her give me some tips. After giving me inspiration about my topic and tips on for- matting my slides, she showed me hand motions to use during the presentations, breathing exercises to do before, and how to stand with a powerful presence. She made me excited to present what I knew with others and overall affirmed my progress throughout the session, which increased my self-confidence immensely.

It is clear that Koch has a passion for speaking, and she wants to share that with us. She said, “UD students are some of the most wonderful and intelligent people I have ever met, and I think it is incredibly important that they develop their public speaking skills so that they can share what they have learned in a public setting.”

Hannah Sullivan, a Senior English major, had a similar experience. She said, “Sophia Koch, in her Confidence in Communication: Unlocking Your Inner Orator work- shop, led us through several public speaking exercises which included: tactics for dealing with fear, breathing exercises and power poses. Everyone had the opportunity to practice and gain more confidence in their speaking abilities.”

Last year, Sophia helped me with my Junior Poet exemplary poem delivery, and I cannot stress how much her coaching positively impacted my performance during my panel. These work- shops not only prepare students for job interviews and thesis presentations but also give us the tools to effectively communicate what we learn in the classroom with the world outside UD. For that, I am incredibly grateful.”

Public speaking is a powerful tool for persuasion, education, promotion, entertainment, inspiration and communication. The ability to express oneself clearly and with charm fosters connections and understanding among individuals. Koch said that “The workshops have been a great start to get students thinking about improving their skills, but the real work happens in one-on-one coaching sessions tailored to individual needs.” She encourages everyone to book an appointment through the tutoring page on Academic Success to receive coaching for a presentation.

Public speaking is not merely a skill but an essential means of sharing knowledge, sparking change and shaping opinions. Embracing this art equips individuals with the ability to influence, motivate and connect with others, making it a crucial skill in both professional and personal spheres of life.


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