Audience Dog Program Helps Students Overcome Fear of Public Speaking
American University’s Kogod Center For Business Communications has a unique program that incorporates some of the most gentle listeners… dogs. American University in Washington D.C. is known for its dog-friendly campus, and the Business Communications department even incorporates dogs into their public speaking classes to allow students the opportunity to perform in front of live audiences.
The Audience Dog Program was started last summer by former director of the Kogod Center For Business Communications, Bonnie Auslander. Auslander said that practicing with dogs as audience members allows students to hear themselves out loud and spend time presenting their presentations in front of a creature who won’t judge them at all. According to Auslander, the Audience Dog Program allows students to develop the strong writing and speaking skills they’ll need in the workplace.
Current director of the program Caron Martinez says that the audience dogs make the students more relaxed and happy and allows them to do better jobs in their presentation, hopefully building their confidence for the real presentations in front of human audiences.
Martinez says the dogs are not trained dogs, but are very loving and secure dogs who will maintain eye contact with the speakers to help simulate real audience listening.
Of course… as they aren’t trained, sometimes the dogs get distracted, but student Patryk Chervonay says it’s okay because no matter what, the dog helps him de-stress, and that helps better his presentation.
Students who use the Audience Dog program to help sharpen their speaking skills do so for free, though there is no credit for the course. Except for the dogs…who are credited with treat after treat for their loyal attention!
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