OFFBEAT: College students dream up clever ideas for demo speeches

Phil Potempa's daily entertainment news column
2013-10-17T00:00:00Z 2013-10-28T14:11:05Z OFFBEAT: College students dream up clever ideas for demo speechesBy Philip Potempa, (219) 852-4327

During the 15 years I've taught college courses in public speaking at Purdue University North Central and Valparaiso University, there's always a sizable segment of students who reveal their extreme fears of this required class.

The textbook I use for my Introduction to Public Speaking courses, called "The Art of Public Speaking" by Stephen E. Lucas, is the same book (just updated editions) I've used in class since I began teaching more than a decade ago. The author cites a very interesting statistic: "When surveyed, more people admit their fear of speaking in public is greater than even the fear of death."

Yes, sounds extreme.

And as PNC Communication Department Chair Dr. Scott Smithson interprets this stat, by sharing an observation he once heard Jerry Seinfeld mention: "If this is true, then the person who is asked to deliver a eulogy at a funeral would rather be person who is dearly departed, rather than the person behind the podium talking."

While usually, I feature some of my students from PNC and VU in my weekly food column to highlight a particular stand-out recipe that was prepared and shared for the demonstration speech assignment, today, I have two student stand-outs to showcase in this space.

Conner Tippins, 20, of Valparaiso channeled PBS claim-to-fame Bill Nye "The Science Guy," who didn't fare so great on ABC's "Dancing with the Stars" this season, for his demonstration speech about: "How to change the oil and filter in an automobile." Donning a white lab coat and safety goggles, he used cardboard boxes, soda bottles and duct tape to create a tabletop-size faux auto engine and substituted vegetable cooking oil for the real deal.

At Valparaiso University, Keaton Stewart, 20, who originally hails from St. Charles, Ill. did her very funny and clever demonstration speech on the subject of: "How to politely accept very odd gifts from your grandma on your birthday and during the holidays."

Luckily, her mom's mother, Keaton's Grandma Doris Minardi, 84, of Adams, Mass. has a wonderful sense of humor, she apparently passed down to her granddaughter.

For her visual aids, Keaton had her mother mail her a selection of some of her "most memorable" gifts from her grandmother, including:

The Lifesaver: a small flashlight that hangs from a cord worn around the neck, and also doubles an attack whistle and can be converted to become a blinking light beacon in case of emergency.

The Salad Clam: used to grab and serve salad.

The Lint Lizard: for skimming lint from sweaters and clothing.

Hat Light: a stocking cap with an attached LED light on the hat brim.

Puppy Petting Glove: removes pet hair with every stroke.

Blooming Vase Nail Manicure Set: Looks to be a bud vase, but opens into a full manicure nail set.

Monthly Pill Box: neatly organizes 31 days of pills and medication.

Keaton said her grandmother is a fan of cable's Home Shopping Network.

"But most of all, I love all of my grandma gifts because I know she was thinking about me, and it's the thought that counts," she said.

The opinions expressed are solely those of the writer. He can be reached at or (219) 852-4327.

Copyright 2014 All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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