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Why Learning to Speak in Public is Important

Don’t shout… just speak out!

To be able to persuade others subtly is a great skill. How many famous speeches would not have had the same impact if they had not been delivered with emphasis, well-timed pauses and variations in pace and inflections? How many ideas would not have been germinated if the speakers had not the skill to persuade a family member, business, country that their concept was worthwhile?

Anyone can have an opinion but not everyone can communicate opinions clearly, succinctly and persuasively. Participation in Public Speaking Clubs encourages our young people to present arguments rationally and effectively, to involve themselves in current affairs and to develop skills in verbal and non-verbal communication.

While the title suggests the emphasis is on ‘speaking’, participants appreciate how to structure arguments, research topics, prioritise points and think critically. At the same time, they learn what is important in world news. Viewing current affairs programs, reading papers and online news develop into a habit, allowing them to hold opinions on significant world events and issues.

Rebecca Marshall finals debating; a girl with ponytail on stage using microphone and talking

However, if our young people cannot express these opinions convincingly, then these worthwhile thoughts and ideas are lost to others. Sharing ideas and points and of view promotes discussion and expands the thoughts of others.

In schools our teachers are working with our children to help them deliver ‘oral presentations’ – from ‘show and tell’ in Prep to debating in secondary school, learning to speak in public is an important part of the curriculum. Teachers are helping our children deliver more than a monologue of stories or facts.

To be able to hold a pause, gaze around the room and vary volume also requires confidence. Just as swimmers will not improve if they do not complete their daily number of laps, speakers will not improve if they do not speak in front of an audience!

As an audience is not always readily available, Public Speaking presents an opportunity for participants to hone skills. They have the opportunity for personal feedback as well the opportunity to listen to others, for as the name suggests, our speeches are for the public, not our own company.

In life, one never knows when one will be asked to present at work, make a speech at a wedding or thank a co-worker. Speaking in public confidently and being conscious of how to structure arguments rationally, choose words carefully and appear comfortable is a most valuable asset.

Training students to speak in public produces young adults who are proud to speak out!

By Rosemary O’Neill

Loreto College Coorparoo Teacher of Drama, English, Religion and Public Speaking Coordinator

This article was published in Issue 10 of our print magazine, June/July 2015.

Photo of author

Janine Mergler

Janine Mergler is a veteran Queensland teacher, graduating from QUT with a BEd majoring in Social Sciences. After many years in the classroom, Janine moved on to academia. She has proudly trained new generations of teachers in her role as a lecturer at Queensland University of Technology Faculty of Education. She has also worked in the Queensland Government as an education specialist, developing education resources and delivering community awareness programs to help families conserve water. Currently she is the owner and editor of Families Magazine, a publication specifically targeted at parents who value a quality education for children.  Janine leads a team of professionals who write about family lifestyle, early childhood, schools and education information and family-friendly events.

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