A Public Speaking Student’s Critique
by Roseanne Iurilli, a 19 year old MCC college student
This past Sunday, October 10th, 2010, there was a political debate between incumbent Congressman Frank Pallone and Congressional Candidate Anna Little. This was the first time that I had heard Congressman Pallone speak, and frankly I was shocked at how poorly he spoke. Mr. Pallone has been a member of Congress for twenty-two years, and yet I saw better speakers in the Intro to Public Speaking class that I took at. In this critique, I cover a few of the main points in a public speaking curriculum.
1. Eye Contact
One of the first things that they teach you in a public speaking class is to look your audience in the eye. At no point did Mr. Pallone look his audience straight in the eye. He talked with head tilted slightly back so that he was looking down his nose like Pinocchio. Mrs. Little looked her audience straight in the eye, and she turned her head to each side in order to address her entire audience.
2. Movement and Posture
Another key thing in public speaking: movement. Movement is allowed if you are in a lecture setting, standing at the front of an audience with a portable microphone. In such a case it is okay to walk around the stage a little. However, this was not the setting of Sunday’s debate. Mr. Pallone and Mrs. Little were sitting behind a table; in such a setting, it is best to sit straight and still. Mrs. Little did a very good job with this, she sat still, her hands for the most part stayed folded on her lap except when she was writing notes on the paper in front of her. Mr. Pallone was forever moving around, he kept leaning back in his chair, then leaning forward, and then leaning back again. Also, he had his hands on the table one second, on this lap the next, and then back to the table. At one point during the speech, he was even rubbing his thighs under the table.
3. Vocal Delivery
Perhaps the most important thing that they teach you in a public speaking class is vocal delivery; Projection, E , and Articulation.
Whether you are using a microphone or not, it is important to know how to project. When using a microphone, it is important to know how far away to hold the microphone and how loudly to speak into it. Throughout the speech Mr. Pallonelooked like he was fighting with the microphone; he kept clipping and unclippingit from his tie, holding it up to his mouth and then far away, and was told several times by the audience that they couldn’t hear him. Mrs. Little held the microphone for her opening statement (and after determining the pickup capability of the microphone), clipped the microphone to her lapel and left it there throughout the remainder of the night, and she kept her voice at an even understandable level.
b) Enunciation and Articulation
Speaking clearly and fluently is very important in public speaking. Mr. Pallone did not articulate very well, and he mumbled many times throughout the debate. He also had an ‘umm’ in almost every sentence, and stumbled over his words multiples times. Mrs. Little articulated very well, she did not ‘umm’ in any of her speaking, and she only stumbled over her words once.
To summarize, in this debate we had a twenty-two year Congressional incumbent debating a woman who had been a mayor and freeholder for only ten. When you put these two speakers side by side, the difference in their speech mannerisms is amazing. Even if you were to ignore the content of the speeches, and merely focus on the delivery, Mrs. Anna Little would have won this debate hands down. Mr. Pallonewould not even have been able to pass an Intro to Public Speaking class at a community college with the speech skills that he possesses.