Muscat: It was a pleasant breezy evening filled with rich hues owing to the blossoming flowers and trees of all kinds around my small home garden, that my 9-year-old comes up and asks me “Mumma what makes a great speech? My answer was “The speaker”. Next question in the series was “Mumma what makes a good speaker?” Now, this was a bit tricky. To this, I thoughtfully replied “Practice”.
This modest conversation with my growing one, brought me thoughts on the importance of instilling the art of public speaking in children. As per the notion suggested by the popular ‘trait theory of leadership’, certain inborn or innate qualities make someone a leader, the skill of public speaking being one of them!
I have always believed as well as experienced, that this art can certainly be acquired, developed, and nurtured over a period. Other than boosting self-confidence and inculcating listening skills, the following are the benefits of public speaking during growing years:
1. Inculcates writing skills: A good speech primarily begins by writing down your thoughts and ideas. To be able to organize and articulate your thoughts are the steppingstones to the success of a good speech. Adding to this is the aspect of originality-which certainly attracts genuine audiences.
2. Expansion of creativity: A good speech requires thorough research to be able to be penning down your ideas. Once the public speaking journey in a child begins, it opens a whole wide world of creativity, analyzing & interpreting that information. With time, the child is able to search for what is relevant and filter out the redundant information.
3. Becoming opinionated: Through purposeful listening and participation in any public speaking activity, the child is able to form judgements. These are the signs of their evolution and are crucial in decision-making.
4. Developing persuasion: There are three purposes of a speech-to inform, persuade or entertain. In younger years, it is persuasion which is the highlight of these three. No doubt that children are born persuaders (throwing tantrums to get that ‘something’, public speaking certainly helps them build strong arguments and present their case with conviction.
5. Mastering the art of storytelling: A good speech has essentially 3 parts-an opening, on, the body and the conclusion. Incorporating a personal story into your speech is always a great idea, and the innocence of the child while sharing that story acts as the cherry on cake!
As per the dictionary meaning, ‘skill’ is dexterity, accuracy, or proficiency gained through practice. Yes, the keyword here is practice. The fear-barrier can be broken by freely attempting public speaking activities as frequently as possible. This can be as simple as speaking on your favorite topic in front of your best friend or trying impromptu just-a-minute speeches, and slowly progressing to a class full of students. A group as simple & informal as a group of close friends to formal speaking communities like Toastmasters International or Gavels Clubs are great ways to not just sharpen your communication skills, but also develop leadership qualities at an early age!
The final mantra-read, write, listen, speak!