As schools all over the world have been closed for months and we are now entering the school summer holidays in the UK, I’m reminded once again of what I believe is a dire need for public speaking to be taught both in schools and at home.
The benefits of learning to speak confidently in public at the youngest possible age can pay huge dividends across all areas of our lives as we get older:
It can be a great self-esteem booster
Help us to influence and persuade others more effectively
Help us to think critically and creatively
Help us make new social connections
Help us to significantly enhance our personal relationships
Help us to just be more comfortable with people
Help us to stand up to bullies – they are in the workplace too!
Public speaking can help us to inspire people and even change the world.
The world really does open up to us when we know how to get our point across and speak with impact.
I attend a lot of conferences and seminars and each time I do I’m amazed when it comes to the Q&A at the end just how few questions there always are and that it’s always the same people asking the questions.
Regardless of age, position or experience most people really don’t like speaking in public, even if it’s to ask a burning question. Interestingly though, as soon as everyone breaks for coffee or the conference is over you always find that suddenly there are hundreds of questions flying around the room.
It’s not a new phenomenon, in fact, it hasn’t changed in hundreds of years and is unlikely to change much in the future unless and until we add public speaking skills to our school curriculum.
I’m pretty confident that most people reading this article will recall their own school days when sitting in the classroom the teacher asked a question and very few of us put our hands up to answer it.
Was it really the case that so many students didn’t know the answer?
Of course not, many of us did.
Sadly, most of us were simply scared to raise our hands and so we left it to the usual one or two in the class to claim another gold star.
When we realized we actually did know the answer we kicked ourselves all the way home. That’s how it was when I was at school and as far as I can see not much has changed today.
For the most part it hasn’t really seemed to have mattered too much or done irreparable harm largely because historically the written word has been the primary currency of education in schools. Throughout the ages students have been taught to read, remember and repeat and the demonstration of learning has mostly been done through the written word. In the past, in many cases, success at school and at work has mostly required fluency with the written word.
Whilst that still is and will always remain vitally important we all know it isn’t enough. Our inablity to speak with confidence, sincerity and passion does little to help us to connect with each other in such a disconnected world.