A Brand-New You

When things turn tough, it may be time for a reinvention. These eight classes point the way

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Say It Like You Mean It

If you are stressing about your next big presentation at work, take comfort in the fact that public speaking has plagued people since ancient Greece. Or so says Donna Surges-Tatum, who is teaching Persuasive Communication: Business and Professional Speaking at the University of Chicago’s Graham School of General Studies. “There is a fear and vulnerability associated with getting up in front of a group of people,” says Surges-Tatum, who looks to the teachings of Aristotle for suggestions about how to conquer this commonly shared anxiety.

The mechanics of public narration were a favorite topic for the Greek philosopher, and his theories on the subject form the basis for Surges-Tatum’s course, which helps students learn how to establish personal credibility and make a connection with an audience. In the classroom, Surges-Tatum emphasizes what she calls a co-creative, listener-focused persuasion process, as opposed to the one-sided, coercion-based talk that often dominates in the workplace.

The workshop-based course has students prepare and deliver a speech, which is videotaped and then analyzed with an eye toward improving the speaker’s organizational and delivery skills. By learning how to build on their inherent strengths—while incorporating metaphor into their talks, eliminating “ums” and “ahs,” and elevating their expressiveness—even soft-spoken students will gain an enhanced confidence in their presentation skills—talents that are just as useful in a job interview as they are in the boardroom.

Offered by the Graham School of General Studies. Meets Tuesdays from 5:30 to 8 p.m., from September 22nd to November 10th at the Gleacher Center, 450 North Cityfront Plaza Drive. $585. 773-702-6033.

 

The New Network

Looking for a new job? By now you realize the days of merely relying on the old-boy—or old-girl—network are long gone. Resourceful job hunters today are employing the new technologies, resorting to social networks such as Facebook or Twitter. “The intersection of these tools and our personal and professional lives makes it important to understand how [these sites] function and why they continue to grow and have an impact,” explains Abby Young, who manages the online social-networking accounts for the Alumni Relations Office at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.

In Social Networking: Facebook, Twitter and More, an offering from New Trier Extension, Young shares her expertise, introducing students to both online sites and helping them set up their own profiles. “The best way to understand [these sites] is to start using them,” Young says. “Creating a profile doesn’t mean you have to publish publicly. You can join with the aim of ‘listening.’”

And there’s a lot to listen to. Everyone from President Obama to Citigroup to Hollywood celebrities is getting involved, posting everything from recipes to job openings. But listening has its limits. By encouraging a hands-on approach, Young strives to make students feel comfortable about posting their own content on these sites. While focusing on such topics as joining groups, privacy settings, and adding applications, she also addresses additional issues and questions raised in class. What’s more, because Young teaches the four-week class in a computer lab, students don’t need to lug in their laptops.

Offered by New Trier Extension. Meets Tuesdays and Thursdays from 7 to 9 p.m., from September 15th to September 24th at New Trier High School, 7 Happ Road, Northfield. $96; seniors, $77. 847-446-6600.

 

Well Endowed

Despite the media’s doomsday take on the economy, there are still organizations providing grants to worthwhile people and causes—and getting a piece of the pie can be as simple as knowing how to apply properly for government and private-sector help.

In Mastering Grant Writing—an interactive online class offered through UIC External Education—students work with an instructor to learn the basic steps of writing a grant proposal. (Students also interact through the Web with fellow students and nonprofit professionals across the country.) According to a spokesperson, grant applications require many components, and each component has its own style and purpose. Learning how to approach each component effectively and accurately can give an applicant a head start.

The detail-focused, writing-intensive class demonstrates how to shape a proposal, lay out strategies and goals, and craft a budget. Students will learn how to write an executive summary, sketch an organization’s background, and prepare a needs statement. And because the class is taught in a virtual classroom, students can log in to the seven-week seminar whenever it best suits their schedules.

Offered by UICExternal Education. Meets online; registration closes October 12th. $595. 312-355-0423 or externaledu.uic.edu/writers.

 

Creatures of the Night

The cookie-cutter movies released by Hollywood hardly offer a thoughtful take on the modern situation, but stuffy art-house cinema can sometimes go too far in the other direction. Just ask Phil Morehart, an editor at Facets Multi-Media and a self-described zombie-movie addict. “Night School is a chance for us to let our hair down,” he says.

An offshoot of Facets’ more serious-minded film school, the Night School is a weekly series that meets Saturdays at midnight to screen the best and weirdest in horror, sci-fi, and cult films (during October, there will also be Friday screenings). The five-dollar entry fee gets you a seat at a movie—which is preceded by a program of trailers from grindhouse and cult films—as well as a selection of relevant reading materials and entrée into a DVD raffle. The Facets staff—most of whom have advanced degrees in film history and theory and spend their time programming obscure international fare—select their favorite off-the-wall flick, introduce the screening with a brief lecture, and lead a discussion afterwards.

At presstime, the fall session had not been finalized, but Morehart says that it will present “a well-rounded overview of the horror genre.” That means there will be at least one classic film from Universal Studios (perhaps The Bride of Frankenstein or The Mummy), another from Britain’s Hammer studios (most likely The Curse of Frankenstein), and an independent, low-budget film (such as Herk Harvey’s Carnival of Souls). Two Facets staff members, Brian Elza and Bruce Neal, will not only introduce Häxan, a silent film by the Danish director Benjamin Christensen, but also compose a heavy-metal score for the movie. All in all, says Morehart, expect “good spooky times.”

Offered by Facets Multi-Media. Meets Saturdays at midnight. 1517 West Fullerton Avenue. $5 per night. 773-281-9075 or facets.org.

 

Illustration: Lorenzo Petrantoni

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