March 30, 2010

JAM sessions help students perfect their pitch

Although a business student, third-year Fisher student Katie Deye loves a good JAM session.

In fact, Deye often leads up to 30 students at a time in early evening JAM sessions and has even earned teaching gigs. The JAM that Deye is so hot on is the Just A Minute program (JAM), which was created to help undergraduate students hone their public and impromptu speaking skills.

Deye became the student president of the student-run program last year. JAM members have even taken their program on the road, including presenting their “Ten Commandments of Public Speaking” in Professor Judith Tansky’s 499 Business Administration course.

“Katie and her JAM team did an excellent job in the BA 499 lectures during autumn quarter,” Tansky said. “They presented their 10 points for a successful presentation and then got students in a lecture of 240 students to stand up in front and do elevator pitch type presentations.  It was great and the students loved it. I commend Katie and her team for the good things they are doing.”

More than 600 students have gone through the JAM program this year. During JAM sessions, random topics are thrown at the undergraduate students, they are given 30 seconds to digest the topic and prepare their discussion. Then a stop watch is set and they have 60 seconds to deliver a clear and concise presentation on the subject. Afterwards, the students in the audience critique the presentation.

Students may be challenged to expound on everything from bicycle riding around Washington, D.C., a bad date or recall an uncomfortable situation and how they handled it. “We try keep our topics creative and fun. We want to prove to students that public speaking doesn’t have to be so intimidating. Having creative topics allows us to focus on how you present and can think on your feet rather than what you know about a particular subject.”

A marketing major who was also a member of Fisher’s first place team in American Eagle Outfitters' marketing competition, Deye credits her participation in the program for helping overcome her fears.

“Impromptu public speaking used to absolutely terrify me,” Deye said.  With the constant practice and the fun we have in JAM, now I’m more comfortable in my own skin.”

Her strong presentation skills were not only helpful during the American Eagle competition, but they also helped land her a brand management internship at Proctor & Gamble.  She won a place at the Cincinnati-based company after participating in P&G’s Ohio State Leadership Advantage Camp last fall.