HELD annually, the School Speaking Competition has become one of our Rotary Club’s signature projects. Designed to help young people improve their communication skills, its primary aim is to prepare them for successful careers. And as a club of business people and professionals, we understand how important it is to encourage teamwork and healthy competition in young people.
Public speaking is an important life skill and is one that Rotarians value. It also tops the list in surveys of people’s top fears – more than heights, flying or dying. The American stand-up comedian Jerry Seinfeld described this fear very well when he said: “The average person at a funeral would rather be in the casket than giving the eulogy”.
Yet almost every one of us will be involved in some form of public speaking during our lives. Whether it is saying a few nice words for a friend or family member on a special occasion, acting as a best man at a friends wedding, facing a panel during a job interview or giving a presentation. Our school system teaches us how to marshal facts, how to draw conclusions and how to present them in a written format but not how to deliver a lucid or inspiring speech.
Communication is one of the basic functions of management, and for young people about to embark on their careers, its importance cannot be overemphasised. Effective communication is an essential skill for motivating staff and management, and for getting information, ideas, thoughts, opinions and plans across to others.
The objectives of the School Speaking Competition are to provide young people with:
- an opportunity to develop their interest, skills and confidence in public speaking;
- to practice those skills in competition with their peers;
- build leadership and team working skills;
- develop organisational, planning, research and time-management abilities.