Herald JournalHerald Journal, April 4, 2005

Christi Paulson wins two national public speaking titles

By Ryan Gueningsman
Staff Writer

There aren’t many people who enjoy speaking in public. For some people, it can be a terrifying thought to have to get up and speak in front of an audience.

For Bethel University sophomore Christi Paulson of the Lester Prairie area – that couldn’t be further from the truth. What's in it for YOU?

Paulson came home from Los Angeles recently with two national public speaking titles from the National Christian College Forensics Invitational. Forensics is the study of oral interpretation and public speaking.

Paulson received first place awards in novice persuasion, and in novice prose.

“My interest in public speaking began as a child, when I would take part in our church’s Christmas programs,” Paulson said.

It then progressed into a love of hers, when she began to give demonstrations through a 4-H club.

“I admit that, at first, I was a little scared to do this – I think I was eight or nine when I gave my first demonstration – but everyone in the club had to give one, so I didn’t have a choice,” she said.

Once Paulson began giving presentations, however, there was no stopping her.

She gave a demonstration at the McLeod County Fair every year, many times qualifying for the Minnesota State Fair.

Being home schooled her entire life, Paulson learned of the plays at Lester Prairie High School her freshman year of high school.

She tried out for the play at Lester Prairie Schools, and with the help of teacher and director Bob Henning, learned how to give better performances and become more confident with many different types of characters and pieces.

From there, Paulson went on to college, and in her freshman year, she admits she was too scared to join the forensics speech team.

“This year, I decided that I needed to just join,” she said. “It would help me be more prepared with my major, which is media communications, and it would also stretch me in ways to make me a more rounded person – instead of just being focused on athletics.”

In addition to the forensics team, Paulson is also a member of the Bethel softball team.

She began working with forensics instructor Dr. Michael Dreher, and the rest of the Bethel coaches, who helped her learn what it takes to become a true “forensicator.”

“Of course, I know that I have lots more to learn, but I also know that I wouldn’t be where I am today if it weren’t for Dr. Dreher and the rest of the coaches,” she said.

Paulson figured the biggest reason she loves speaking in public so much is because she can be whoever she wants to be.

“I don’t have to fit in a certain type of mold and I don’t have to worry what other people think of me,” Paulson said. “I get to create a character and become that character. It doesn’t matter if that character gets laughed at or made fun of because that character is not really me, it’s just pretend. When it is laughed at, it’s great, because there is nothing better than being about to make people laugh and forget about their troubles, for even just a minute or two.”

“I just love to be able to reach out to people, and since I don’t always know what to say to them when we’re talking one-on-one, I use my public speaking as a way to reach out to them,” she said.

Some words of advice for speaking in public

Paulson offers the following tips for better speaking in public:

• “The best way is to start young. When you’re young, even if things are scary, they’re sometimes easier to face, Paulson said. Also, the more you do things, the easier they become.

“For those who aren’t young, the best thing is to just go out and do it. It is scary, but in most cases, everyone listening to you knows just how scary it is, and will be sympathetic – they’re just glad that they don’t have to be the ones up there talking. The best thing to do is to plan ahead and structure the speech.”

• “Have a clear beginning that gets the audience’s attention, main points that clearly show what you’re trying to say, and then a clear ending that doesn’t drag on forever.

“This makes listening a lot easier, and when the audience is interested, it is a lot easier to talk to them,” she said.

• “Pretend that you’re talking to a friend. I know that this is easier said than done, but really, people would rather listen to someone talking to them than at them,” she said.

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