As I have pointed out in my bio, I am from a rural community and am actively involved in 4-H.
Today was my 4-H Club’s Public Speaking Competition, and as I drove home with my family, I wondered, “Why doesn’t public education focus more on public speaking skills?”
Some might say that they are, through presentations and group projects, but I disagree. These exercises are more focused on the content presented than the actual method of presentation. Many times students do not gain the necessary confidence to give a convincing, well-prepared speech. I believe they are missing out! While technology and devices can be used for connecting with others around the world, it is still very crucial for young teens to build effective communications skills.
The most common fear in society is public speaking, and I have outgrown this fear through 4-H. When I first began 4-H (and public speaking), I was relatively confident in getting in front of an audience, due to my experience with singing and performing. However, I have noticed a definite change from my beginning public speaking skills to where I am at now.
For those that do not know much about 4-H (I’ll discuss it further in next week’s blog), Public Speaking is a requirement to complete a membership year. There are four levels of competition: Club, District, Regional, and Provincial. Not only does the competition create an incentive, it also creates a positive feedback system through judges’ comments. It is a highly recognized accomplishment in 4-H to reach the higher levels.
I have worked on my public speaking and presenting skills throughout my years in 4-H. Two years ago I placed third and last year I placed first at the provincial level. This is proof that these skills can be taught and built.
It is necessary that public speaking be more incorporated into the classroom, and not only in a presentation format. Students need to build skills in persuasion, enunciation, and confidence in front of an audience. Creating their own speeches on a topic of their choice ensures their speech contains passion.