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### Exploring Advanced Public Speaking Techniques for Graduate Students

GSE student Lisa Cummings engages in the practice of public speaking. Images by Patrick Verel

At the Lincoln Center campus, a cohort of Fordham graduate students convened on Feb. 5 for an intensive session on public speaking.

Under the guidance of Robert Parmach, Ph.D., the director of Ignatian mission and ministry, the students delved into the nuances of “SPATE” – encompassing stance, projection, articulation, tone, and eye contact.

Parmach emphasized the objective of enhancing the skill sets of graduate students in alignment with their Jesuit education. Drawing from the teachings of St. Ignatius, the founder of the Society of Jesus, he underscored the significance of “developing the interior life,” which serves to invigorate the spirit and foster deeper connections with God and others.

Highlighting the impact of one’s demeanor on showcasing their character, Parmach stressed, “The way you present yourself in front of an audience reflects your essence and integrity… The methodologies we impart enable you to leverage your physicality and voice to inspire, guide, and metamorphose others. It integrates the intellect, physique, and soul to empower both others and oneself on the journey.”

During the workshop, students engaged in practical exercises, taking turns to speak before their peers. Each participant received a written prompt, allowing three minutes for comprehension and one minute for a concise summary.

The workshop attracted students from various disciplines including the Graduate School of Education, the Gabelli School of Business, and the Graduate School of Religion and Religious Education.

Lisa Cummings, a Graduate School of Education student currently involved in teaching at the Orchard Collegiate Academy, expressed her enthusiasm following the workshop, describing it as “uplifting.”

Reflecting on her experience, Cummings shared, “I’ve gleaned valuable insights and feel inspired to organize a similar session for my students.”

When prompted to pinpoint an aspect of SPATE warranting improvement, Cummings singled out articulation. Recalling a missed opportunity during her undergraduate years at SUNY Morrisville, she recounted declining a speaking engagement at her graduation due to apprehensions about articulatory proficiency.

Describing it as a pivotal moment she regrets, Cummings affirmed her commitment to overcoming such fears by challenging herself.

Similarly, Jay Vaghani, a Gabelli School of Business graduate student pursuing a master’s degree in quantitative finance, found the workshop to be a transformative experience, propelling him beyond his comfort zone. Tasked with delivering a speech on how the musician Sting responded to a negative critique of his work, Vaghani, hailing from Surat, Gujarat, India, and transitioning from an engineering background to finance in the United States, admitted to longstanding apprehensions about public speaking.

Emphasizing the significance of refining his tone and articulation, Vaghani acknowledged the unfamiliarity of the prompt involving Sting. However, he acknowledged the time constraints as beneficial, redirecting his focus towards the content rather than his anxiety.

Expressing his satisfaction with the experience, Vaghani eagerly anticipated future opportunities for similar engagements.

These workshops, initiated last spring, are a collaborative effort between Robert Parmach, Michael Taylor, the student success coordinator at the Graduate School of Education, and Veronica Szczygiel, the director of online learning at the Graduate School of Education.