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Why Public Speaking Proficiency is for Everyone!

ORGANIZED UNDER: Electives // How to Teach

Over the years, I have had the privilege of teaching basic public speaking skills to homeschool students. I have thoroughly enjoyed listening to their thoughts and stories while watching them become amazing speakers. I wish anyone who doubts the benefit of home education could have this same incredible experience!

3 Reasons Great Communication is a Core for Success

Invariably, each time I present my introduction to the course, one or two students raise their hands to ask if we are going to study debate skills. Upon learning that those are not part of my syllabus, they sigh disappointedly and ask, “Why not?” It is then that I explain to them that, while learning to debate has its place, the basics of good communication are far more important than debate skills. I tell them that the goals I have established for them are absolutely mandatory. In fact, they are so important, I believe every single person needs to participate in a public speaking class! I remind them that great communication is at the core of success in life, and I share three reasons why this is true.

Essential for Life's Work

Placing a hammer on the lectern in front of me, I explain that good communication skills are essential for you to be successful in your life’s work.

Whether you are a teacher, a surgeon, a mailman, a carpenter, or whatever the calling God has placed on your life, you will need to know how to communicate effectively. From the early years when you first say, “Mama, Dada,” until you sit in front of a potential employer in a job interview, you have been preparing to communicate in ways that will help you secure and keep a job. Arranging your thoughts in a logical sequence and choosing the best words and phrases to reflect what you know and believe are skills that begin in the home with those who are committed to seeing you succeed in life.

Essential for Relationships

I go on to show them the wedding picture from 1975 of my hippie husband and me when we were not much older than they are now, which always guarantees a huge laugh! Good communication skills are essential for successful relationships, I tell them, beginning that very day with their friends in the class, with their families when they go home, and in the future as they marry and have their own children. I usually talk about communicating with parents and siblings and give them the opportunity to share stories; they quickly understand my point.

Essential for Sharing the Gospel

Finally, I open my Bible and read from John 1:1,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

The word for word is logos, the act of speaking, skill and practice in speaking, an account which one gives by word of mouth. How important is speaking if God chose to name Himself the “Word”? Turning to Genesis 1 we read how God spoke the entire world into existence, and I explain how we must conclude that speaking is important to Him! God demonstrates for us the power of employing the spoken word, a power we all need to recognize and learn to use wisely.

This becomes crucial as we purpose to share the gospel with others. Unsaved men and women, boys and girls do not respond to our arguments or debates about theology. Rather, they are drawn through the power of the Holy Spirit alone by hearing the truth of the saving message of redemption:

So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Romans 10:17).

While they are still at home, we need to prepare our children to obey this command:

…preach the word; be ready in season and out of season… (2 Timothy 4:2)

It is vital for our children to become skillful in public speaking so they will feel comfortable and confident when they share the Gospel message with others. If we have adequately prepared them to truly study and understand Scripture, the next tools they will need are those that help them speak the truth in a winsome manner.

“The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved (Romans 10:8-10).

We need to make certain that our children are proficient in public communication skills. There is an old adage that says most people, when listing their personal fears, rank the fear of public speaking above their fear of death. This means, of course, most people would rather be the guy in the casket than the one giving the eulogy! Whether or not this is factual, I’m not sure, but I do know that most people do not feel comfortable speaking in public and need to build their confidence for doing so. Skills to master in this area include: impromptu speaking, persuasive speaking, special events speaking, informational speaking, giving presentations with a PowerPoint or other props, and storytelling.

Sharing a testimony at camp, making a presentation at work, giving a toast at a brother’s wedding, or even offering a eulogy for a friend are all areas where our children will need to rise to the occasion at some point in their lives, and we need to help them be prepared. Whether it’s joining a public speaking group like a Toastmasters club or participating in a co-op class, this is a skill no young person should be without. No person of any age, for that matter!

Karen Campbell, who holds a BS in Human Relations and Secondary Education from Judson University, is a 28-year veteran of homeschooling, the mom of six children, grandmother of 14, and has been married to her husband, Clay, for 38 years. Karen loves baking and cooking for the whole gang when they are home and is actively involved in her local Toastmasters Club. In fact, citing Lucy Ricardo as her inspiration, she once won the District Humorous Speaking Contest for her tale of the homeschooling mom who mummified a chicken! They live on the Illinois prairie where Karen blogs and podcasts about relationship homeschooling at www.thatmom.com.

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