For more than twenty years I have been helping business people in the corporate world to improve their communication skills and I have specialised in presentations and speeches, and talking to the media.
In my experience, what tends to be missing in a good many people I work with is the ability to articulate views succinctly, articulately and persuasively. Commonly people also lack confidence to speak out engagingly. Unfortunately, for the really quite senior people I tend to work with if they are not already good at speaking out, and it is only a very small minority who are, then to learn these skills at this stage in their lives is difficult and daunting; in the corporate world there is almost a culture of fear around presenting and public speaking, people fear it and actually take it a little too seriously.
I believe we can and should change this: I strongly believe we should be giving children these skills, which is why several years ago I began working with children. And I believe we should start early on in their education: teaching older children in the lead up to their GCSE’s is too late in my view, unless they have had some grounding earlier on. I have found ten year olds to be enormously receptive to learning the art of speaking out, they are adaptable and joyful. We have had tremendous fun and with the younger age there is much scope to use light-hearted topics to speak about as they get going and build confidence before tackling heavier subject- matter. They learn to formulate their own opinions and express them confidently; to consider alternative views and rebut them respectfully and above all they learn to enjoy talking to peers, friends and strangers alike, whatever the subject matter.