Discussion Section Survival Guide: Trump and Clinton style

    In terms of public speaking abilities, we all know two names that are beyond unique. I mean, who could be more “elegant” than Trump spewing vulgarities to objectify women, or more “hipster” than Clinton galvanizing the millennials to vote by saying “Pokemon Go to the Polls”? Besides watching their debates for entertainment purposes, you can also consider transferring some of these skills to your less dramatic life. Next time you are struggling to speak in your discussion sections, take the following tips from me and make your personality shine. Just don't mention my name when you get kicked out of the class.

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    1. Say what you want, when you want

    If the debates can teach us anything, it’s that interruptions are the gateway to success. According to Vox, Donald Trump spoke out of turn exactly 51 times throughout the first debate. Twenty-five of these instances occurred within the first 26 minutes. If we take cues from these candidates’ speaking styles, we should naturally strive to start interrupting — and never stop. When one of your peers is going off, just jump right in — throw common courtesy out the window, and roll over their words like bulldozer. BONUS TIP: If you don’t have anything substantive to say, but still need to meet your interruption quota, just repeat the word “wrong.” If it worked for Donald Trump, there is no way it couldn’t work for us.

    2. Preparation is cool and all, but not necessary

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    We all know by now that Hillary Clinton’s 30 years of experience allows her to candidly speak as if she has a teleprompter built into her mind. To replicate this in discussion section, you can always take good notes, quote the readings and basically demonstrate that you didn’t spend the previous night watching Netflix in your bed. Or, if you are still recovering from a hangover after the previous night, fear not. Replicate the strategy of Donald Trump – it’s ok to be less articulate, just as long as you're more relatable. Don’t bog yourself down with fancy vocabulary or legitimate facts. Essentially, don’t be afraid to NOT prepare. No need to be the know-it-all...or the know-anything.

    3. Feel free to lie

    The age of fact-checking may seem like it would encourage political figures to be more honest. However, Trump and Clinton have shown us that it's smarter to just say whatever you think is true and hope that no one calls you out afterwards. Essentially, lie all you want. This way, you don’t even need to prepare for discussion sections. You can party all night on Wednesday, or binge-watch an entire season of a show in one sitting. Your TAs won’t care, because who’s able to fact-check you within only 50 minutes of class? Definitely not the Ph.D. student writing their thesis on your discussion topic, that's for sure.

    4. Be a bully

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    The days of being kind are long gone. We all know that the candidates are known for their sassy retorts, from Trump insisting that Clinton should be in jail, to Clinton claiming that Trump simply isn't qualified to be president. Take their advice: if you disagree with one of your peers, forget about logic. Instead, bring up all the beef you can think of. Turn your discussion section into a roast session — aka, channel your inner Kim Kardashian and Taylor Swift, and you'll be good to go. Trust me, there is no better time to get personal than in a classroom.

    5. Never directly answer questions

    Have you ever noticed how the candidates have difficulty answering questions on the first try? Oftentimes, they just go off onto unrelated tangents, as if they are ranting to their besties instead of trying to win an election. Lucky for us, that means rambling off on an unrelated topic is a good thing. So, when your TA asks you to analyze a passage, feel free to talk about your dog, your weekend plans or the new song you've been loving. Maybe even treat your discussion section like a therapy appointment. I'm sure everyone will care more about your personal issues than preparing for that midterm exam next class.

    6. Arrogance is for winners

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    Facial expressions can be half the battle. While Donald Trump rocks major duck face, it is Hillary Clinton’s behavior that often gives off the most character. Whenever she feels that she has delivered a solid argument, she doesn’t refrain from slapping a smug grin on her face, or even showing off a few casual dance moves. As Communications senior Mike Smith* said, “Hillary can smile in the face of a **** storm.”

    If you want to finish off your points in discussion with a bang, feel free to add a lot of attitude. You can even step it up a notch and do a touchdown dance in the middle of the room. After that, no one will be able to deny that you are the master of public speaking AND getting jiggy — the legacy all college students dream of.

    At the end of the day, discussion sections can be tough. But at least think about the bright side: no one will play your sound bites over and over again, or turn your mishaps into memes, or write an article — like this one — criticizing your performance for the sake of a satirical college survival guide.

    Editor's note: Max Smith is a pseudonym that has replaced the source's real name at the source's request. This change was made at 1 a.m. on Feb. 22.


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