Entrepreneur’s Club workshop prepares for Speak-Off

Julio Rodriguez

John Meehan provided tips and tricks to the Entrepreneur’s Club for the betterment of their public speaking skills at the upcoming Speak-Off contest. PHOTO BY THOMAS MARRA | The Hudsonian Student Newspaper

John Meehan provided tips and tricks to the Entrepreneur’s Club for the betterment of their public speaking skills at the upcoming Speak-Off contest.

How would you like to make $100 dollars for a three-minute speech?

The Entrepreneur’s Club will host their annual Speak-Off Contest, where student will compete for the $100 prize with their various speeches, in CTR 150 at 2:00 p.m. on Wednesday, Nov. 15.

Contestants must prepare an original speech that is no longer than four minutes long. The competition is open to the entire student body. The topic: “What it takes to be an Entrepreneur.”

“The speech has to be between three-to-four minutes long,” said Entrepreneur’s Club adviser Jodi Mather. “You cannot use any powerpoint. You don’t have to have it memorized. You can use notes on a notecard to refer back to. If you win here, you automatically get $100 and in March we take you to SUNY Plattsburgh where we compete against 10 other colleges.”

The winner of the competition will have the chance to travel to Plattsburgh on March 1-2 next semester to compete for the $750 prize in the Free Enterprise Marathon.

“My students have placed between second and fourth, in general, on this competition,” Mather said. “You have a 50/50 chance of winning money. They only allow 10 to 15 school’s [to compete], so once you get to SUNY Plattsburgh, you have a really good chance of leaving with cash.”

On Nov. 1, John Meehan provided a workshop for the Entrepreneur’s Club to share some tips on public speaking for students interested in the contest.

How to hack your speech

“Start with an overview,” Meehan said. “Introduce it briefly. This is no different from writing a summary in English class. Provide examples that expand on the topic. Then, wrap it up by closing and concluding the topic.”

Meehan continued with additional speech tips.

“What does it take to become an Entrepreneur? I don’t know because I’m not one. So, first thing I would do if I was going to do that contest [would be to] go talk to one. I would do some fact finding.”
Audience set-up is important

“One big thing to master public speaking, in my opinion, it to set up the audience,” Meehan said. “I got closer to all of you so I don’t have to project as much. I can also see all of you better. I think that’s important because you want to look at people. You want to see who’s engaged and who’s not.”
Definition vs. What works for you

“What will really work for you?,” Meehan asked. “What works for me is not guaranteed to work for you. Let’s talk about getting better at what we want to do. Look for opportunities to practice and take courses. There’s a public speaking course with our English department. If you want to be a good public speaker, you need to seek out opportunities to practice it. Seek out challenges.”
Seek out unfamiliar audiences

“If you avoid [public speaking], you’re going to be like I was when I was your age — scared to do it,” Meehan said. “I took a Dale Carnegie public speaking course. I had zero presentation skills. I took it with a group of people in the town I grew up in and I knew no one. If I know some of you, it’s easier to get up there. If I don’t know any of you, it makes it a lot more challenging. I took the opportunity to seek out that public speaking course.”


Use your team’s strengths

“I studied engineering, but that doesn’t mean I know how a circuit works,” Meehan said.” “So, develop a support staff to have with you. If you’re developing a presentation with four other students, seek out each other’s strengths.”

Be sincere and believe in “it”

“What’s it?,” Meehan said. “It is whatever you’re talking about. You’ve got to believe in it. They’re going to know if you don’t. They’re not going to believe you if you don’t. You have to bring it. You want to make this a priority, in my opinion.”

Meehan provided more suggestions on speaking.

“If you believe in your topic, then you’re passionate about it,” Meehan said. “I tell my business communications students, ‘Please pick a topic that you’re interested in because you’re going to work on it for eight weeks. Don’t spend eight weeks of a college-level course working on something you’re not interested in.’”

Do not’s

Avoid handouts that distract

“Don’t give out handouts before you present,” Meehan said. “That’s an excuse for them not to look at you. I have no idea who I have to work on to close that deal.”

Never read to them

“Nobody wants to be read to,” Meehan said. “Don’t go up there and read off of a slide. Then you’re not making eye contact. You cannot tell who’s engaged and who’s not. Try not to read to the audience when you become nervous.”

Helpful tools: Load up your tool belt

Like and Uhm

“When you present, every once in awhile you will ‘uhm,’” Meehan said. “I didn’t realize until I videotaped myself. Anyone can use “like.” Like, you know what I mean? You’ve got to admit it. I will admit, I was terrible at this. You’ve got to admit it to yourself.”

Constructive Criticism

“My boss said ‘you’re an uhmer; every time you pause, you say ‘uhm.‘’ Try this technique. It might work for you,” Meehan said. “I really took it as constructive criticism. I kept working on it and I would ask people for feedback.”

Have a back-up plan

“You may get somewhere and your technology might not work,” Meehan said. “If you’re traveling with a projector, go with a spare bulb.”

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