by Debbie Ruston, Featured Contributor
HOW MANY PEOPLE enjoyed making speeches in school? There is a statistic that most people are more fearful of speaking in public than dying!!!
Where you a child that dreaded doing the “speech” in front of your class? I certainly was and had many a sleepless night anxiously worrying about having to get up in front of the class. How much does this hold us back in life down the road, and could it be handled better in schools to help kids embrace this rather than fear it?
Part of the problem with speeches that makes people uncomfortable is that there are too many rules around what is acceptable, and too much pressure is put on the individual. Choosing a popular topic, rehearsing, memorizing facts and data, etc. is very intimidating. In most cases children are asked to stand up in front of the class and deliver a memorized speech about something they have researched and really could care less about. They memorize the words but the words generally mean nothing to them as they are reciting the speech, and it is long forgotten once it is done.
It requires a different approach. Instead, what if we ask kids what they are interested in and ask them to share their thoughts with the class. Recognize them for the knowledge they have shared, and when the opportunity comes up, if there is more knowledge to be gained in the topic they have spoken about, ask them if there is anywhere they can find that out. Give them a job to do that helps them develop their leadership skills. Let them go research about something they are actually excited about and come back to the class with the answer. This builds confidence, leadership, and personal responsibility. Instead of filing in like sheep taking turns giving their speech during specific parts of the school year, this could be implemented throughout the entire school year, spontaniously, but very purposely. The goal being, every child will have the opportunity to speak about what they are most passionate about. No formality…but genuine passion and interest on behalf of the student, and embracing the new knowledge shared by the class and the teacher. Imagine what a different approach like this would bring about.
The best speakers in the world are not those that stand behind a podium with a piece of paper and deliver a memorized speech. It is those that walk around freely with no notes, and just talk to their audience about what they are passionate and knowledgeable about. This is how speakers connect with their audience and their audience connects with them. This confidence can be developed in any person to help them really tap into more of what they are capable of. Not everyone wants to be a speaker, but anyone can benefit from the confidence that is built through being comfortable speaking in front of a group.