John Wolff’s and Dr. Matt Sanderson’s Styles of Public Speaking

I attended the panel presentation on Thursday, March 10, before the Breaking the Code play, with input from Mike Nagle, John Wolff, and Dr. Matt Sanderson. Each speaker had a distinct way of presenting their main ideas, and each speaker had valuable input on the topic being discussed. With so many different styles of public speaking, attending this event gave me a deeper appreciation for speaking and gave me some good exposure to public speaking outside the classroom. For all intensive purposes, I will be examining both John Wolff’s and Dr. Matt Sanderson’s styles of public speaking within this paper.

Professor John Wolff’s presentation was very informational. His specific purpose was to inform the audience of certain events that had happened in Turing’s life. His structure of organization was chronological, giving us events from the earlier stages of Turing’s life, up until Turing’s suicide. He had a clear thesis and the preview seemed to be tied in. His main points were very clear. He used examples of machines that Turing had used to break codes, defined terms (such as enigma), and used several metaphors to provide additional clarity for the audience. However, Wolff’s conclusion lacked a review of the main points or a powerful statement. His use of a power point did allow a different medium with which to convey his message to his audience, allowing for greater clarity. He had a really good design for his slides, which kept my interest on the topic.

Professor John Wolff had a lot of good and interesting information which he conveyed clearly within the body of the speech. He had a good use of chronological organization and he didn’t stray from his ideas much, which kept his speech clear for the audience members. I also think that his supporting material did a good job of keeping the audience actively listening. Wolff delivered this speech sitting down, and I often found myself distracted by his frequent turning in his seat to check his powerpoint slides. He did not maintain much eye contact with the audience. I thought that his style of speaking, though clear and loud, was often a bit dry.

Although he often referenced his iPad for information, he did not audibly cite any sources. His conclusion did not add any clarity or review for the audience. In fact, he simply ended on his last main point without any powerful statement. Overall, I think that Professor Wolff has a very distinct style of public speaking that wouldn’t have normally kept my attention, except for his interesting powerpoint. Wolff has a talent for answering questions quickly at the end of the discussion, often pulling in one of the other speakers for additional input.

Dr. Matt Sanderson has the most interesting style of speaking that I have ever seen. He uses no visual aids, and does not explore answers to the many questions he poses. Dr. Sanderson’s specific purpose was to inform the audience of philosophical questions surrounding artificial intelligence.

Sanderson’s thesis was clear, but was posed as a question rather than a statement. His preview was loosely organized, but I did not find many points in the body of his speech that he didn’t lightly touch on in the introduction. His main ideas seemed clear at first within the body of his speech, but just turned to questions towards the end. Dr. Matt Sanderson did not use any visual aids with his speech, but almost exhausted his infinite supply of metaphors. He supported his speech further with definitions, but did not audibly cite any sources. For this type of speech, I do not think that sources were absolutely necessary, as Dr. Sanderson is very credible in his study area.

Dr. Sanderson’s specific purpose was to examine philosophical thinking and consider the questions of, “Can computers think?” I think he adequately explored these ideas throughout his speech body. As for a conclusion, Sanderson did end his points with several interesting ideas to push the audience’s thinking. Throughout his speech, he used a lot of humor, which lightened the mood in the room and eased the audience. He posed many questions throughout his speech, rather than concrete statements. Instead of exploring these questions in depth, Sanderson left them open to increase the audience’s curiosity. He seemed very calm and collective with a good amount of eye contact throughout the audience. He seemed very comfortable with the audience.

I am really glad I attended this event and was able to pick apart both of these speakers styles. I haven’t heard either of these speakers before going to the event and it was good for me to get some exposure outside of our speech class. I really liked Dr. Sanderson’s way of conveying his thinking. I like that his speech was primarily posed as questions without definite answers. As an audience member, his questions prompted me to think more deeply on the topic being explored. However, Professor Wolff’s presentation, although a bit monotonous, was spiced up by his powerpoint, which kept my attention in check. I think both of these professors discussed different points of Alan Turing’s life in different ways and sparked a lot of audience curiosity; the perfect precursor to watching the play!

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