Volume 4, Issue 5, (Originally published on Monday 26 August 2013)
Law students finished the second stage of a public speaking workshop last Tuesday, a joint project put on by the Law Students’ Society (LSS) and the university’s Legal Academic Skills Centre.
LSS Sports Convenor and fine food enthusiast John Azzopardi spearheaded the ‘Honing Your Public Speaking Skills’ workshop in collaboration with MLS Academic Skills Adviser Chantal Marie Morton.
The workshop was divided into two stages to allow students to have a thorough learning experience.
The first workshop was held on 13 August 2013, and introduced participants to the basic principles of effective public speaking. Morton took students through the fundamentals to building a strong and confident presence when speaking.
The first thing she emphasised: body language. Morton suggested that students refrain from slouching and adopting submissive poses that, incidentally, make the speaker seem physically smaller. Instead, she said that students should adopt ‘power stances’, which take up more space and have the effect of expanding the body’s presence.
Adjusting the body to take up more space exudes confidence, Morton said. Not only does a confident posture increase the speaker’s charisma, she noted, it can also make the speaker feel more confident.
Next up, Morton illustrated the importance of speaking with authority. Participants watched a short video by American beat poet Taylor Mali, entitled ‘Like, You Know’, which critically approaches the habitual but needless speech patterns, such as making declarative sentences sound like questions, and using filler words like, you know, ‘like’ or ‘you know’.
Students then worked on public speaking in small group exercises, in which students practised by introducing each other, although concocting a story about a fake profession in the process. A later exercise, done in larger groups, had students provide storylines to random pictures they were given to describe.
In the second workshop, held on 20 August, students were joined by three members of the Victorian Bar who are also MLS alumni.
The barristers provided advice on oral advocacy and coached students through a fun, sugar-laced competition that gave everyone the chance to practise public speaking.
In their small groups, students sampled various lollies and made arguments as to which candy bar should be Australia’s national lolly. The barristers then provided constructive comments about the students’ performance. One member from each group was selected to represent the group in the final competition, in the hope of winning the ultimate prize: a box of Lindt chocolates.
Alas, every group representative got a box of Lindt in the end, to wrap up a productive and insightful series of workshops. Azzopardi and his LSS team also provided a delicious spread of cheese, meats and dip.