Many parents come to me because they want to help their children to be more confident when speaking to groups of people. Sometimes, too, it is at the urging of their children. Fear of speaking in public is universal and understandable. It is also, however, part of most children’s and teens’ lives. Schools are increasingly recognizing the importance of verbal communication and require students to work in groups and give presentations to their classes.
Lessons help the ten year old with his first book report, the teen with presentations to her class, school, church or club, the university student and adult with teaching classes and business presentations.
My lessons help calm nerves and ensure that the personality of the student shines through. It is imperative that the student has an emotional connection to the material and is able to convey her interest and passion to an audience.
I often tell my students about the year I attended a lot of garden lectures. Many gardeners who have succeeded in their careers travel the world on the lecture circuit. My favourite lecturer (I tell my students) did everything “wrong”—she casually leaned against the side of the lectern (what?!), talked too fast and occasionally rambled off topic. I do not, of course, encourage these things, but she was by far my favourite speaker—she had passion, knowledge, a unique perspective and her personality engaged and delighted the audience.
Yes, I teach my students the requisite and important techniques (voice projection, articulation, variety of pitch and pace). But nothing beats engagement with the material, a unique perspective, a genuine interest in the topic and an ability to convey these things.