Students may have seen Dr. McIntyre around campus or even taken one of her classes, since she is an award-winning teacher at UA Little Rock. She started teaching at UA Little Rock in 2006 and has spent 11 of her 18 years as a professor in the UA Little Rock Applied Communication Department, where she also directs the Communication Skill Center. It may surprise people to discover that Dr. McIntyre, as a communication professional, suffers from the same fear most people have: public speaking. “I am a high anxiety public speaker and I want to throw up all of the time when anticipating a public presentation,” says Dr. McIntyre during an interview in her office. “So thinking about this makes me horribly nervous.” However, Dr. McIntyre has found ways to manage her own anxiety.
According to her, she is her own little promotion because of her anxiety, but she realizes she can use it for a better purpose, to help others. “It doesn’t matter how nervous I am,” she says. “When we get up to speak, it’s usually for an important reason, so it’s not about me. It’s about making sure my audience has what they need when I’m done.”
Dr. McIntyre will be giving a lecture on November 9th as part of our Second Annual Leadership Lecture Series. Her lecture, using workshop techniques, will focus on connecting with others as a public speaker rather than striving for perfection as a goal. We spoke with her about how she landed in the communication field and what she hopes people get out of her lecture.
How did you get into the Communication Field?
Dr. McIntyre: In high school, I competed in forensics and speech. I did one year of debate and hated it, but I competed in speech for four years. My undergraduate and Master’s degrees are in English. So I did not start my academic endeavors in communication until my Ph.D. I started teaching public speaking at Iowa State my second year of my master’s program in English, and that’s when I was like, “oh my gosh, people do this for fun, and they get paid. Why didn’t anyone tell me this?” So then I taught public speaking for three years as an adjunct before I decided to get my Ph.D. in communication at North Dakota State University.
How did you end up at UA Little Rock?
Dr. McIntyre: At the time I was on the job market. There were four basic course director positions in the nation, and this was one of them. I liked it here — it was scary— but I liked it. I had never been this far south before. I loved the faculty and the students, and they were willing to hire me to do this crazy job I do.
What is your area of specialization?
Dr. McIntyre: I would say my area of specialization first and foremost is communication education, which is different from instructional communication. Instructional communication generally looks at the communicative behaviors we use in the classroom regardless of discipline. I focus on communication education, which is specifically designing curriculum and making pedagogical choices that help people learn communication knowledge and skills, with an emphasis in public speaking.
Do you do any work outside of teaching?
Dr. McIntyre: I do workshops all the time, but they’re generally academic related. I’ll go and do workshops for organizations sometimes, like banks. The ones I’ve done lately have mostly been on campus for other programs like Testing Services. I do a lot of one-on-one consulting now.
What was it like doing a workshop for a bank?
Dr. McIntyre: The bank asked me to come and work with some of their employees on how to improve their client communication as well as their communication in larger groups. So we talked about some misconceptions people have with communication, like how people think it’s reversible but it’s not. We shaped foundational understandings of communication. We also looked at some simple structures you can have, whether it’s one-on-one or large scale, to help keep conversations focused.
Can you tell me about your upcoming lecture?
Dr. McIntyre: I’m going to be talking about Michael Motley’s communication orientation versus performance orientation to public speaking, which has to do with how we manage anxiety through how we think about our audience and our goals as public speakers. I plan on making the lecture more interactive and have activities, as opposed to a more traditional lecture. I’d like to have people talk about things that make them nervous and how they respond to that nervousness. Sometimes I like to have people stand up, and we practice breathing exercises because that can also help with anxiety management.
Who is your lecture geared towards?
Dr. McIntyre: My lecture is going to be for anyone who has to get up in front of a group of people and have words come out of their mouth. The skill sets we use as public speakers are easily adapted to one-on-one interactions. Even if you don’t speak publicly in front of a lot of people, understanding performance versus communication orientations can help you frame how you interact with others.
What do you hope people who attend your lecture get out of it?
Dr. McIntyre: My goal would be that they leave not necessarily having their anxiety gone, but having a different way of thinking about their public speaking anxiety. More so, I want them to think about what it is we do as public speakers and what our goals are. It’s perfection versus connection. Most of us have a perfection orientation, so if they leave at the end of that hour even leaning a little bit more towards the goal of connection as public speakers, that would be awesome.