Thursday, May 31, 2012

Public Speaking: All You Need Is a Little Bit of Luck

Tonight was the Brown cohort's dinner with alumni and sponsors for the Ivy League Connection. Last year's Cornell dinner was a great experience, and getting to meet with all the alumni who still wished they could go back really got me excited about the wonderful opportunity I would have. This year, even though I expected this dinner to go just as well as last year's, I came into the dinner as nervous as possible, thanks to one aspect of the dinner that I didn't have to deal with last year: giving a speech. I have never really had to do any public speaking, and was not looking forward to speaking in front of a room full of people with massive expectations of me. I had been working on the speech all week, but try as I might (and believe me I tried); I wasn't able to make it through a single speech without stumbling over my words. My nervousness definitely didn't go away when Mr. Ramsey stated that this dinner would have a hundred and something people, and was the biggest dinner they had before. I was able to stop worrying about the speech for a little while, when I had the chance to mingle with some of the Brown alumni. Almost instantly though, we were told to find our seats, and Mrs. Kronenberg started off the program. I looked down the list of people who would be speaking and just my luck, I got to speak right after Andrew Gonzalez, the future Brown alumni who will be President at some point in time, his public speaking is that good. His speech went over great of course, and it was my turn to hopefully not butcher my speech too much (I had told my mom in the car ride over that I would consider the speech a success if I didn't open with "Hi Nick Shebek, I'm everyone," my practice speeches were that bad.)

Shockingly, for the first time in fifty something attempts at a coherent speech, I was actually able to go through the entire thing with next to no mishaps, although as some of Don's pictures showed, I may or may not have looked like an angry conductor for half of the speech, I really tend to talk with my hands. This surprising success made me feel like the dinner could only get better from then on, and it did not disappoint.
The only time during the speech that I wasn't flapping my arms around
Despite what you might end up hearing from all the other Brownies, I had hands down the best seat in the house. I was seated in between 2 Brown alumni, Libby Heimark, who has one son who will transfer to Brown next year, and another who already graduated from Brown last year, and Paul Sednaoui, who graduated class of '05.
I really enjoyed talking to both Paul and Libby, and Paul was really able to help me get a better idea of how to narrow down the list of colleges I plan on applying to, with location and class size being some of the main criteria. The fact that Paul was able to stay in contact with 2 of his friends from Brown (both also attended the dinner) really gave me a sense of the community of Brown. I personally was amazed by Libby, who might be one of the most interesting Brown alumni in history. She, her husband, and both sons went to Brown (the one transferring is leaving Yale to go to Brown, so for those of you keeping track that's four for four on family members going to Brown, and one who went to Yale for two years. Not too shabby.) I was most amazed with the fact that she is family friends with Andrew Luck, and he is basically a godson to her. For those of you who don't know who Andrew Luck is, he was only the star Stanford quarterback drafter number 1 overall in this year's NFL draft, so you could say he's a pretty decent football player. All in all, this dinner was a huge success, from me actually being able to calm down for two minutes to make a speech, to all the great advice regarding colleges Paul gave me, to all of the great Andrew Luck growing up stories I heard from Libby.

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