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Can we talk?

March 3, 2012 - Jodelle Greiner
The speech geeks are at it again.

Fairmont hosted a speech competition this weekend, so I stopped in to take pictures.

I find speech amusing — in a fascinating way. To me, it’s like watching little plays being performed before your eyes and you have to stretch your imagination. These kids not only have to deliver a good speech, but they have to be good actors, too. There’s no costuming or sets to help you get the picture, just what the kids convey by their words, tone and minimal actions.

I watched the dramatic duo competition earlier this afternoon. I’m a sucker for a good story and irony in the telling. There was one where a young woman looked up the friend of her older brother. You think it’s going to be one thing, but it turns out to be something else entirely. Those are the ones that make you think and stay with you. I’ve found a lot of these speech performances contain little life lessons.

Others, like the detective trying to find out which of the orchestra musicians killed the composer, are just plain funny. Plus they give the kids good chances to show off their comedic chops with body/facial/voice expressions. There’s a kid from Tracy/Milroy/Balaton who’s got a future in radio, as an announcer, or doing voice over work. Not only does his voice have a pleasant timbre, but he delivered pitch-perfect voices for a whole range of musicians.

People tend to focus on sports because it’s eye candy and an adrenaline rush, but sports are not a practical long-range career goal.

Sure, some — very few — athletes get scholarships to play in college. Even less go pro. Even those who can go pro will have their careers end at some point. Then what do they do? What skill sets have they developed to get them through the second half or two/thirds of their lives?

Public speaking scared the crap out of me when I was a kid, but I’ve learned how to talk to a group of people because it was part of my job. I’ve found that the better I knew my job, the easier it was to talk to people about it, but it took me a long time to get there. I wish someone had encouraged me and explained how much I would need it in the future.

We should be more aware of what expertise kids need to get them through life and encourage them to develop proficiency in those areas. I’ve heard that the average person will change careers eight times in their lifetime. Workers need skills that can smoothly segue from career to career, job to job.

I’ve found speech kids to be thinkers. Not sure if that’s because speech attracts thinkers or speech turns them into thinkers, but that’s neither here nor there. They’re not in speech because all their friends are, or it’s the popular thing to do, or they have legions of fans cheering them on each week; what I’ve often heard from them is some variation of “Speech will help me in whatever I want to do in life and I can use the skills I learn in speech all my life.”

None of these kids are aspiring to be professional speakers. They want to learn how to express themselves clearly so their communication skills can help them in a variety of careers. They may become a salesman, a lawyer or CEO; a nurse, doctor or another member of the medical profession; even tradesmen or agribusinessmen — one speech kid I knew in Marshall went on to be the state FFA president — but being able to articulate always makes a worker more valuable. Being able to address a gathering and do it eloquently and persuasively is a valuable skill to have, no matter what you plan to do with your life.

 
 

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