By Raquel Sosa-Sanchez
Emmy winning journalist Jane Hanson came to the College on Friday, Oct. 13, for the lastest Brown Bag lecture in Mayo Concert Hall. She discussed her career and journey through the world of broadcast media.
Hanson has over 30 years of experience as a journalist and public speaking coach. Her most notable work is as a co-host on NBC’s “New York Live,” and as the host of her own show, “Jane Hanson’s New York” on WNBC.
She discussed the nature of public speaking and body language to the College’s audience.
Public speaking is not a natural talent, nor is it an audibly learned subject, according to Hanson. Hanson believes that the perfect public speaker does not exist, but that communication is key no matter the audience.
Body language, according to Hanson, is a key communication element that can make or break a presentation. Movement and posture define a message more than actual words.
“We’ve been walking on Earth as human beings for about 2 million years,” Hanson said. “We’ve had a spoken language for about 160,000 or so. For a long time we communicated without ever having a spoken language.”
Body language and the content of our language are not the only characteristics that are present in our subconscious. The prominence of our presence and the level of our pitch can also greatly affect the atmosphere in which we are speaking.
Hanson believes verbal communication is another key component to first impressions. The effectiveness of a presentation relies on content and verbal communication on top of nonverbal gestures and body language.
Men and women perceive their own public speaking abilities in different ways, according to Hanson.
“Women tend to feel more insecure about the pitch and presence of their voice,” she said. “They’re worried they aren’t loud enough, or that the pitch of their voice is too high, but lower pitches are actually found to be more effective in the field of public speaking.”
This is not to say that women and men cannot be equally successful in the public speaking field — many aspects of public speaking depend on the individual and their audience.
According to Hanson, the attention of the audience is perhaps one of the most important aspects of being an effective speaker.
Paying attention to a single subject is reduced to 8 seconds. As social media and texting become the norm, phone calls and public speaking have become more and more daunting to a growing number of people.
The only way to placate these fears of public speaking is to continuously immerse oneself in the realm of public speaking, according to Hanson.
Freshman communication studies major Eunice Olugbile spent the course of the lecture taking notes and listening intently to Hanson.
“I never really thought I’d actually get anything other than a nap at these lectures,” Olugbile said, “but it was really interesting to have a speaker actually ask us questions and not just speak at us.”
Hanson made her lecture interactive, and often asked many questions of her audience members. Hanson left the audience with a few words of advice.
“When you’re live,” Hanson said, “never let anyone catch you off guard.”