Talks help improve speaking skills

Jared Tuilagi

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Wyatt McDevitt, business management senior, Kaleb Hernadez, English with a minor in entrepreneurship senior, and Michael Dickey, business management junior, present their ideaMSU project.

Wyatt McDevitt, business management senior, Kaleb Hernadez, English with a minor in entrepreneurship senior, and Michael Dickey, business management junior, present their ideaMSU project.

The rooms were all too similar. Chairs lined up in neat rows facing the front. A blank screen. A tiny, underpowered and outdated computer. And an often-nervous speaker, one of 43 groups doing oral presentations at the Undergraduate Research and Creative Activity Forum in Clark Student Center April 28.

In each of the four concurrent sessions, students gave 20-minute talks on various topics from economic issues to scientific discoveries to entrepreneurial ventures to technological advancements, giving them an opportunity to practice their public speaking skills.

Curtis Knobloch, finance senior who placed second for his oral presentation representing the Dillard College of Business Administration, said this forum has helped him in many ways.

“I’ve presented at other conferences, but nothing like undergraduate research. This was a great experience overall,” Knobloch said.

Knobloch presented on how the deflated oil prices affect the north Texas regional economy.

“My grandfather started working in the oil fields when he was 16 years old. So oil has been a part of my family for a while. It is the reason I’m able to go to college here,” Knobloch said.

The oral presentations have given the undergraduate presenters a way to benefit their public speaking and communication skills. Each presenter had five minutes at the end for questions from the audience.

Knobloch said, “There were really good questions asked at the end. Really good, thought-provoking questions. And that’s important for me to continue.”

Kristen Johnson, history senior who also placed second for her presentation representing the Protho-Yeager College of Humanities and Social Sciences, said, “These presentations help polish up your speaking skills for future presentations. It’s definitely a lot of practice and you get to get in front of the room and work on answering questions.”

Johnson presented on the opposition to traditional history of considering cattle men who require nothing from the federal government.

“My two mentors Dr. McDonald and Dr. Turner had an interesting conversation on an airplane which spurred this topic. It’s been exciting to find this little piece of history,” Johnson said.

Alexis Gay, political science senior, said she was intrigued with Johnson’s topic and proud of her performance.

“I know of her a little bit and I know she loves anything that has to do with cattle or farming. I’m not that familiar myself so I wanted to learn. She did an excellent job with her speaking and making it easier for the audience to understand the issue within her research,” Gay said.

Gay also presented an oral presentation, The Measurement of Violence Against Women, as part of a five-member team that placed third.

Confidence is what Michelle Lear, biology senior, said is the main benefit with being able to present and speak on questions at the forum. Lear presented on the emergence of the infectious disease cutaneous leishmania in Ghana.

“Being confident in your research is one thing. But when you’re in front of larger audiences, you need to be confident in your speech and delivery so this forum was very helpful for me,” Lear said.

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