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Sunday, June 25, 1995     Page: 1G

Putting wisdom into words
    To Ted Ritsick, talk is life itselfFor the past three years, the local entrepreneur has been teaching public speaking, which he calls "life skills," to students at King's College in Wilkes-Barre.
    Just a few months ago, he decided to widen his educational net to catch professionals seeking both to learn communication skills and further their careers. Three local professionals are completing Ritsick's first targeted course. Five, including accounting, insurance and health-care professionals, are signed up for his next class, which begins in late July.
    "If you have two people with the same professional skills, the one that can speak well wins," says the ever-positive Ritsick, who owns Industrial Marketing Co. on North Pennsylvania Avenue.
    Two members of Ritsick's current class, Melanie Mancuso and Dana Mascioli, are both Wilkes-Barre-area professionals who hope to parlay new communication skills into enhanced careers.
    "Coming in, I had a mild fear of public speaking," says Mancuso. "But this course has surpassed my expectations. It's a different approach that almost takes away all the fear."
    Ritsick teaches his students to make "paperless" presentations -- no written speeches, no notes. The students develop a "hook" or thesis and pay off their audience with a "what's in it for me" finish. In between, his students to use "pictures" to "see" their presentation. After each in-class presentation, Ritsick orally critiques his students and later provides a written review. Although he reviews the presentations, he always provides positive reinforcement and coaching rather than critical observations.
    "I sometimes handle presentations for the executive director," says Mascioli, who works for the Northeastern Pennsylvania Technology Council. "In the past, I've found it hard to address my audience. Now, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's meeting."
    Judging from class presentations recently, Ritsick's students have developed into smooth and interesting public speakers able to quickly and efficiently communicate ideas and arguments.
    And that's the point, Ritsick says, whether in public or private presentations and discussions.
    "Students like Dana and Melanie don't have too many peers in the decision-making process," says Ritsick. "They have to prove themselves more than most males. That's a hurdle. If that's the reason they take this course, it's a good one."
    There are five more openings for Ritsick's July 20 to Aug. 31 class, which will be held at King's College. Call 829-4276 for details.
    Jim Mullay is The Times Leader Business Editor. His column appears on Sunday.
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