Speaking of Speakers: A Reflection on Assembly Presenters
What happens after we graduate from Hopkins?
Education is easy to plan out; a career path is a lot more complex. Over the course of the school year, Assembly speakers give the Hopkins community a glimpse into the passions and interests that can be pursued in the future. While certain aspects of each speaker may resonate with different people, certain presenters are popular across the community because of their energy, passion, and good speaking habits.
Josh Seidner ’20 believes one of the most crucial aspects of any speaker is the amount of energy they bring to Assembly; “I like a speaker who has energy, but not fake energy. You need to do more than smile and be happy to have my attention. It’s Monday morning. Anything less than heart-pounding energy will put me back to sleep.” Seidner continued, saying when Carlos Andrés Gómez came to speak about toxic masculinity on January 11, 2019, “he was electric. He changed tones, volumes, and speeds. I felt like I was riding a word roller coaster.”
However passionate a speaker may be, if they do not effectively explain what they are passionate about, the audience might not connect with what they are saying. Science teacher Allison Mordas explained that one of the most important factors of a good speaker is, “that the person needs to inherently be a good teacher. It’s not enough to be an expert on a subject, you have to be able to convey that interest to people in a way that is not condescending nor over their heads, which is hard.”
Authenticity is another appreci- ated characteristic in speakers. Madeleine Walker ’19 said, “I thought Q-tip [Sgt. Colin Santacroce ’07, a veteran who came to speak on November 16, 2016] was super good. He was funny and didn’t have an ego, and he wasn’t embarrassed to admit that he never got good grades at Hopkins. He was real.”
In any speech or presentation, students and teachers alike believe keeping the audience in mind is critical. Public Speaking teacher Michael Calderone commented, “the speakers who engage the audience, who know the audience, are the ones that have a positive impact on us.” Serena Ta ’20 agreed that speakers should focus on their audience, saying, “Good speakers give reason for us to listen. They know their audience, and thus tailor their speech to us. Generally, they should explain who they are, what they are going to speak about, and, most importantly, why we should listen.”
Many students wish the speakers shared more about their experiences and challenges as students. Jamie Donovan ’19 said, “I always want to hear more about their Hopkins experience – hear their advice or what they were like when they were one of us.” Walker agreed, “I want to hear from a speaker that they struggled a lot, but put in a ton of work and the worth ethic paid off more than the natural talent of their peers.”
Some of the speakers have inspired students to think about if they would ever want to come back to speak. Jack Dove ’19 commented,“I would defnitely come back to speak at Hopkins. Wherever my career takes me, I think I will have a meaningful experience to share with the student body.”
Ta summed up what matters most to her when listening to a speaker: “What do I want to hear from a speaker? Something interesting. Something I can relate to. Something I care about.”