Overall, I definitely feel that my speaking skills improved throughout the course of the quarter. While I did come into the class feeling somewhat confident about my speaking skills, I knew that I had a lot to work on, primarily getting nervous before big speeches.
I felt like my progress in the course and as a speaker was steady until the passing of my step-grandfather, which was a huge distraction away from the coursework for all of my classes. That being said, I did resolve to try to make a turnaround in that regard once I had returned from being with my family, and I feel that I was somewhat successful in that.
Over the course of the quarter I tried a litany of different types of speaker preparation, from notecards, to outlines, to full manuscripts, and a few others. While I tried a great deal of different strategies, the one I found to be most effective was simply having virtually no plan, and letting the speech evolve naturally as it went on, almost like a conversation. This was a step I was only brave enough to take on the final speech of the quarter, which is something that I regret now.
The other main challenge I undertook in the quarter was trying to make an effective political speech to the class. I tried three different times, with three different topics, and received three different results, with one glaring continuity: the speeches were too dense. While I never quite figured out how to really present one such speech effectively, I felt as though my ability to do so improved over the quarter, culminating in the speech on free trade.
In conclusion, I enjoyed trying to evolve my speaking skills throughout the quarter, but do feel that I could have grown more as a speaker during my time in the class.