Communication for Children

April 24, 2008

How many PR job adverts have you seen recently that have required a ‘natural communicator’? With particular relevance to our line of work, being able to ‘connect’ with someone is probably the most crucial thing we do, other than forward features of course.

And so it was that a friend from University cornered me at a party one evening last year and persuaded me that what every school age child needed was to be shown how to speak in public , how to approach interviews with confidence and how to generally articulate their thoughts.

Within ten minutes we had formalised the idea, within half an hour we understood what we wanted to teach, and within 2 weeks we had a website and a timeline to make the ideas happen.  Such drunken ideas are rarely acted upon so effectively. Like a well executed status note, action points were actioned and Speak Up! was born.

That was September 2007. This week we are preparing for our second session in a central London academy, with six more sessions planned for the next two months.

I share all this to discuss a central core belief of the Speak Up! venture which is relevant to anyone currently working in PR– namely that anyone can speak in public, they just need to be shown how.  There is no great secret to public speaking and there is certainly no great secret to giving a great speech; practice combined with confidence as well as being able to deal with nervousness are all you need and these can all be taught.

When I was at University, I had to deliver quite a few speeches as President of the Student Union and rushing through my material was one of my main problems. It was not until a friend recommended I write SLOW DOWN in size 60 font at the top of each speech, did I actually begin to improve and crucially, relax. Having the reminder on the top of each page helped me to calm my nerves, which in turn helped me deliver the speech.

There is no excuse for communications professionals not to be adequate public speakers as so much of what we do is about performing – whether it be in an internal meeting in front of an Account Director, in a client meeting or on the phone to that ‘key’ target on your media , we are all judged on our ability to talk and to persuade.

In my experience, the best way to get better at speaking in public is to participate in, rather than just watch media training sessions for clients. Media training is expensive enough before you add your charge out rate, make best use of the time whilst someone else is paying and slap any completed sessions on your C.V.



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