Competition, Courses or Class?
– The Best Place to Learn Public Speaking
It is a common experience in our role as public speaking trainers to have parents asking whether public speaking, as a skill, is best taught through a course, in school or by joining a competition. The answer is not that straightforward – it depends. While we run our public speaking courses, we believe the best learning experience is only possible when your child’s willingness to learn is aligned with his/her learning objectives.
To decode the answer to the question above, you need to take into account the (i) learning experience, (ii) structure of the lesson, and (iii) the programme intensity. It is important to remind ourselves again that every child will ultimately have to learn at their own pace and comfort. Imposing a learning experience or setting without considering your child’s needs may lead to an ineffective first step. This focus is particularly significant for soft-skill training (i.e. public speaking) where bad habits can take root early.
That said, to help you along in finding the best learning experience for your child, here are three considerations you can take!
Consider This #1:
The Deep or Shallow End?
Your child may have varying degrees of risk appetite. Those who are more open to a challenging environment may prefer immediately launching into the deep end, such as a competition. For them, the time pressure and competition setting help to drive their creative juices in crafting the best speech and planning the best delivery. In a competition setting, participants tend to have a shorter runway to come up with a speech idea. They may not even have enough time to practise adequately with critical feedback before their presentation!
On the flip side, attending a public speaking course for children will help your child navigate the imposing world of public speaking. Some young speakers prefer to grow at their own pace by starting with confidence-building presentations before launching into a full speech. A public speaking course for kids (as it is too for our public speaking course for adults), in this sense, will help set out an incremental learning experience for your child. Your child will get the opportunity to wade in the shallow end before diving deep into public speaking!
Consider This #2:
Structure and Specialisation
We know that some parents prefer to know the exact learning plan their child will experience. Some prefer to focus on specific public speaking skills, such as impromptu speaking or interview skills. For those with this objective, a structured programme through a public speaking course may be more appropriate. In comparison, students may also have the opportunity to receive feedback about their public speaking skills from their in-class presentations in school. For some, this opportunity alone is enough.
Public speaking courses or competitions (especially for children), however, provide your child with an opportunity to approach public speaking as a specialised learning experience. Your child will get a chance to experience feedback from specialised, trained and experienced public speakers, especially in weaning out stubborn habits.
If you need an illustration of how the learning experience can follow a structured curriculum, check out this YouTube video about our methodology:
Consider This #3:
Intensity and Focus
Finally, a public speaking course or an in-class presentation will not share the same intensity as a public speaking competition. The latter will provide your child with an intense, immersive and intellectual setting to train as a young public speaker. Given the usual open-theme nature of competitions, your child may not have the necessary focussed attention or syllabus. Instead, your child will learn through a fluid and independent environment. That said, the intensity of a competition setting can also be simulated in a public speaking course, either through an internal contest or a rigorous feedback system during class. Doing so allows your child to gain the best of both worlds – a dedicated focus on skills development and an intensive environment to challenge them!
So, What Should I Pick?
The methods above are not mutually exclusive, and it may not be entirely accurate to state that one is far superior to the others. Ultimately, in seeking the best option for your child, find the learning programme that he/ she enjoys and is willing to dedicate his/her energy and time for the entire class. Run through the various features of each platform before committing to one. With the correct guidance, your child will be able to excel whether in a competition, course or class!
Check out the vibes of our National Public Speaking Competition (Hall of Fame):