This Speech Is for the Dogs

If you read my previous post, you may know that I recently survived the first round of speeches in my Communications class. I’m not saying it was pretty, but I got through it.

And just in time to prepare for round two: persuasive speaking.

Everyone in our class has to write and deliver a speech using persuasive techniques to convince the audience to give to a charitable organization.

But here’s the kicker: Before we deliver our speeches, we’re going to donate money to a pool. Then, after we’ve all presented, the class will vote on which speech made the most effective use of rhetorical devices and persuasive tools. The money we collect will be awarded to the winner’s charity.

Make something a competition, and I’m all in. I mean, go big or go home, right? Even after finding out about this twist in the assignment, I was nervous about speaking in public (anxiety about public speaking isn’t something that just goes away after surviving one speech). That is, until my teacher announced that we could select the charity we wanted to represent.

When I heard that, my ears perked up and my apprehensions about public speaking subsided. A new thought was emerging.

Back in 2007, my family adopted a golden retriever, Nola, from the Golden Retriever Rescue (GRR). She had been rescued from a home in which she and her sisters were being mistreated.

Thankfully, she is healthy and happy and the only time I actually remember that she was a rescue dog is when the quarterly newsletter gets delivered in the mail, packed with updates and information about fundraising events in our area. However, with this competition in sight, the reality of what the Golden Retriever Rescue does really hit me. I wondered, could I use this speech as a way of sharing our experience with others and spread the word about how this charity works to prevent canine abandonment and mistreatment?

This particular assignment requires everyone to use some kind of visual aid and to provide lots of information on the charity we’ve chosen. I quickly set to work, inserting photos of Nola into a PowerPoint and reading about the GRR’s more current statistics online. I even called the hotline and spoke to a volunteer about the program and what they do. And the more information I gathered, the more I saw my persuasive argument come together.

With delivery day approaching, my nerves are beginning to make their presence known to me again. As I type this blog post now, the thought of getting back up in front of the class again makes me shiver. But I’m going to do the best I can to focus, instead, on the virtue of the organization I’m speaking for. If I deliver my speech effectively, I might win that money for the GRR and secure a donation that would support its mission. Hopefully, I’ll be able to draw confidence from the fact that I’ll be speaking on behalf of a worthy cause.

I’m so excited to have the opportunity to share my knowledge of this charity with others. Whether or not I walk away with a donation, maybe my speech will inspire others to get involved.

It’s a small nod in the GRR’s direction compared to all the happiness they’ve given my family with Nola, but it’s a start.

And maybe, just maybe, someone who hears my speech or reads this post will consider adopting a rescued pet in the future. If I can introduce just one person to the Golden Retriever Rescue and the terrific work they do, I’ll be happy to call that a victory.