November 19, 2020

Speaking Up, Speaking Out

The Upper Sixth have been given the opportunity over the last two weeks to learn more about a life skill that many adults fear: public speaking.

Despite the anxiety that most people endure when faced with a large audience, Jonathan Porter-Hughes and Leana Mikula, from the English Department, were quick to reassure students that it is an accomplishment anyone can master, with some simple techniques and sufficient preparation.

“It is crucial that we present our students with the opportunity to participate in public speaking. I think it allows them the chance to move out of their comfort zone and find their true voice. This is more important than ever.” Reflected Jonathan.

The duo delivered their first session on Thursday 12th November as Leana explained how to write an effective speech. Her talk introduced the Sixth Formers to pathos (passion), the use of emotional appeal, logos (logic), the use of logical argument, and ethos (ethics), the use of credibility and trust. They were also treated to an insight into the alternative purposes of a speech, and shown how different speech structures can be most effective in achieving various aims.

Leana explained how techniques that can be used to enhance a presentation such as how to engage your audience through direct address, rhetorical language and emotive language, how to sound authoritative by including facts and statistics, and how to make the speech catchy by using alliteration, repetition and rule of three.

The following week, Jonathan took to the stage to expound on the presentation of the speeches created by the students in the meantime with his talk on delivering an effective speech.  He described how body language, volume and intonation can be used to disguise your nerves and project confidence and explained that listeners trust in speakers that give value, teach something new and inspire their audience.

His top tips including making eye contact with individuals, one after the other and focussing on those who are responding positively. Slowing down your speed can help and it is important to remember to thank your audience for listening and for applauding.

The session concluded with two students delivering their speeches on risk taking and on justifying the gender pay gap in sport both of which were enthusiastically received by their audience.

“Zoe, Jonathan and I were inspired by our interest and research into student leadership, student voice and literacy, respectively. We wanted to bring these interests together in a way that will help prepare the Upper Sixth for the world of public speaking, whether that be it in school, in their future careers or as global citizens who can use the power of language to inspire others.” commented Leana.

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