Dr. Priti Sambhalwal (Internationally Awarded HR Expert, Speaker and Columnist)
Muscat: It was a pleasant windy evening filled with rich hues due to the blossoming of flowers and trees of all kinds around my little garden, that my 9 year old son approached and asked me, “Mom, what what makes a good speech? My answer was “The Speaker”. The next question in the series was “Mom, what makes a good speaker?” Now, that was a bit tricky. To that, I thoughtfully replied “Practical”.
This modest conversation with my growing child got me thinking about the importance of instilling the art of public speaking in children. According to the notion suggested by the popular “leadership trait theory”, certain innate or innate qualities make someone a leader, the ability to speak in public being one of them!
I have always believed and experienced that this art can certainly be acquired, developed and nurtured over time. Besides boosting self-confidence and instilling listening skills, here are the benefits of public speaking during the growing years:
1. Instills Writing Skills: A good speech mainly starts with writing down your thoughts and ideas. Being able to organize and articulate your thoughts are the cornerstones of a successful speech. Added to this is the aspect of originality, which certainly attracts a genuine audience.
2. Expansion of creativity: A good speech requires extensive research to write down your ideas. Once a child’s public speaking journey begins, it opens up a whole world of creativity, analysis, and interpretation of that information. Over time, the child is able to search for what is relevant and filter out redundant information.
3. Become opinionated: Through deliberate listening and participating in any public speaking activity, the child is able to form judgments. These are the signs of their evolution and are crucial in decision making.
4. Develop persuasion: A speech has three purposes: to inform, to persuade or to entertain. In the younger years, persuasion is the culmination of these three. No doubt 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. Master the art of storytelling: A good speech basically has 3 parts- an opening, about, body and conclusion. Incorporating a personal story into your speech is always a good idea, and the child’s innocence while sharing that story acts as the icing on the cake!
According to the dictionary meaning, “competence” is the dexterity, precision, or skill acquired through practice. Yes, the key word here is practice. The barrier of fear can be broken down by freely attempting public speaking activities as often as possible. It can be as simple as talking about your favorite topic in front of your best friend or trying one-minute impromptu speeches and slowly working your way up to a class full of students. A group as simple and informal as a group of close friends from formal speaking communities like Toastmasters International or Gavels Clubs are great ways to not only sharpen your communication skills, but also develop leadership qualities right from the start. younger age!
The final mantra: read, write, listen, speak!