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Finding Their Voice - the charity helping students boost their confidence through public speaking

Public speaking can be terrifying.

 

So much so, the great American writer Mark Twain said that there are only two types of speakers: those that are nervous and those that are liars.

 

But he also knew that being able to speak in public is a skill that can boost self-confidence, help career prospects, and make people feel more comfortable in social situations.

 

Unfortunately, educators have noticed a growing lack of confidence in many students when it comes to verbal communication.

 

Andrew Mackenzie, the Deputy Principal of Macleans College in Auckland, says the increased amount of time young people are spending on devices and the disruption to learning caused by Covid-19 have contributed to the problem.

 

“Many young people have forgotten how to talk face-to-face and prefer to use social media to communicate,” he says.

 

It’s why the school has brought in the iSpeak Trust to run public speaking workshops for students.

 

“These workshops have been a significant confidence booster for the students,” he says.

 

“We applaud the Trust for helping address this problem and giving students the opportunity to develop and enhance their speaking skills. They’re life skills they will use now and into the future.”

 

“Speaking skills are just that, skills. And skills can be learnt,” says Gaye Stratton, the Board Chair and a Trustee of iSpeak Trust.

 

iSpeak Trust runs free workshops to improve the public speaking skills of high school students in the Auckland and Northland regions.

 

“We support students to find their own voice.  This gives them the power to realise who they are and who they want to be.  This voice is the key to their success,” she says.

Marcellin College

"We support students to find their own voice.  This gives them the power to realise who they are and who they want to be"

Gaye Stratton - iSpeak Trust

 

 

Students spend time preparing and delivering a short speech, as well having fun with some impromptu speaking.

 

“It was entertaining and interactive and the advice they gave us was incredibly valuable,” says Megan Cartwright, a Glendowie College Head Prefect, after taking part in a workshop.

 

“What made it stand out was the focus on practicing the techniques they taught us through exercises like impromptu speeches on unusual topics.”

 

“They were great icebreakers that made everyone feel more comfortable, as well as a fantastic way to build confidence and our speaking ability in a safe, supportive environment,” she says.

 

Students are often anxious about attending a workshop.

 

“We help them turn their anxiety into excitement,” explains Gaye Stratton.

 

“Our workshops are very interactive, we improve student’s ability to write an engaging speech, using storytelling to illustrate their ideas. They practice adding impact to their speaking using body language and vocal variety."

Kelston Boys High School

 

All workshops are funded by donations made to iSpeak Trust, including a grant of $5,400 from the ANZ New Zealand Staff Foundation.

 

“From my own professional experience, I know how important it is to be able to speak in public,” says ANZ New Zealand Staff Foundation chair David Bricklebank.

 

“But it’s not something that comes naturally to many people, including me. So, the workshops offered by iSpeak Trust are incredibly helpful for the students.”

 

The Trust is now taking bookings from schools in the Auckland and Northland regions for term 4 this year and 2024. For some students, the workshop will help them prepare a speech for NCEA English, while others will gain speaking skills and confidence to take on Prefect and leadership roles.

 

However, iSpeak’s workshops are for all young adults who want to become more confident when speaking, growing their self-belief in what they can achieve.

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