What Makes a Winner?

This was the big week in the public speaking class I teach at Georgia Southern University. After eight weeks of learning the theory of public speaking, like audience analysis, opening and closing a speech, and supporting a thesis with research, and after getting up in front of the class at least once every period to speak publicly, it was time for each student to present an informative speech.

As part of their preparation for the speech, students were required to complete a worksheet that included everything they needed for their speech, and then they were tasked with creating an outline based on that worksheet. Once the outline was complete, they would be prepared to deliver a successful speech. Then all they had to do was practice.

You would think that with so many opportunities to learn the theory, practice the application of that theory, and research and write about a topic of interest to them, everyone would be well prepared and welcome the opportunity to earn an A by practicing their speech and presenting it confidently to the class.

You would be wrong.

Some students did not hand in the worksheet. Some students did not turn in the outline. Some students did not do either. Heck, some students did not even show up when they were scheduled to give their speech.

Fortunately, many students did quite well, but because many students did not, it got me thinking about winners and losers.

Why did some students succeed and some students stumble?

Those who succeeded had winning attitudes and behaviors.

Winners keep pushing to learn. The students who did not do well did not really try.

Winners like to be pushed both mentally and physically. Sure, it is nerve-wracking to get up in front of your peers and deliver a speech, but the winning students asked for advice and tried to learn.

Winners welcome the challenge with an open heart and mind. The winning students expressed their fear in their student introduction questionnaire, but they also said they were looking forward to getting better at public speaking.

Winners keep showing up. The best presenters were the students who attended class on a regular basis, took the weekly online quizzes, and completed assignments.

Although I am never quite certain how well a student will perform that first speech, I have a general idea because of the winning behaviors they exhibited these past eight weeks.

Winners do what it takes to win.

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