Raising the Bar for Public Speaking Skills
By Jeannette Webb
We talked earlier about the Communications Club I established for my young children – a group of like-minded friends who loved each other’s kids and were invested in each other’s success. It was very warm and supportive. And safe.
That was fine in the younger years, but I wanted my kids to be leaders as well. I could tell by their developing intellects and dreams that they were headed into colleges and careers that were not so comfy-cozy safe. It was time to up the ante.
My kids were about 15 when I felt they were ready to move outside the homeschool bubble. At this point they were fine public speakers, they had pleasing manners and knew how to address adults. They had been successful in some of their pursuits and had a healthy self-concept. Years of dinner table discussions had prepared them to stand their ground. We pursued projects within traditional organizations as well as created leadership and public speaking opportunities for ourselves.
Our first venture out into the real world was my son’s Boy Scout Eagle project at the age of 15. While most of the kids in his troop organized small clean up campaigns totally within the troop, we required more of our son. After he determined a worthy project, documenting all personal tornado shelters in our largest city of 10,000 so recue workers would know where to dig for survivors in case of a direct hit, he met with city officials to get their permission. After securing the enthusiastic support of the mayor, police chief, fire chief and others, he developed a plan using city maps for a one-day canvassing of the entire city to hand out the bright yellow fliers where residents could self-report their shelters. Then he set about informing people what the project was all about and why it was important. He spoke at multiple civics organizations, interviewed live on the local radio station, and talked with newspaper reporters.
This was all pretty stressful for our introverted son, but he pulled it off like an expert and his self-confidence soared. He was young enough that the adults were very nice to him, but he and my daughter would later face situations that were somewhat negative and even downright hostile.
Interestingly enough, hostility usually is focused on the fact of homeschooling. We faced it when my husband was in politics. I faced if with the media as the local homeschool support group leader. I’ve had clients face it in college and scholarship interviews. However, the most hostile people I’ve ever had to deal with are the homeschoolers themselves. I can’t tell you how many women who were homeschool support group leaders, fathers, as well as state/national leaders who have been aggressive with me. They are threatened with the excellence that is the hallmark of my family and of our company. They are fearful and thus spiteful. I’ve learned to ignore them and so should you.
To read more about our family’s leadership/public speaking projects, check out these posts:
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