|CBD: How are reading and writing proficiency connected to oral communication skills?|
JM: Studies of reading and writing show that when children develop better oral communication skills, their writing and reading improve drastically. Oral communication is foundational in Gods design. When someone becomes comfortable with the spoken word, the written word resonates more in the soul.
Childrens reading, writing, and oral communication skills improve when they have something interesting to read about, write about, and talk about. I encourage parents to use their kids interests as a platform for developing these skills. Speaking for myself, I started to enjoy reading and writing when I developed a passion for a particular subject. I probably shouldnt admit this, but, if I werent a speaker, I probably wouldnt read and write much. I have to have an outlet for communicating what I discover.
CBD: Delivering a speech in front of a roomful of strangers can be a terrifying experience, especially for shy children. What can parents do to put their kids fears to rest and help them become confident communicators?
JM: Public speaking certainly can be terrifying. When people list their fears, public speaking is listed more often than death! Fortunately, we can learn a lot from the great communicators about how to overcome fear.
From Winston Churchill, I learned that if you have a passion for your message, fear begins to melt away. I encourage my students to only speak on topics they are passionate about. Passion cannot be manufacturedit has to come from the heart. Cultivate the passion first and then work on how to communicate it.
From Ronald Reagan, I learned that there is no such thing as a crowd. An audience is a group of individual humans. Imagine that you are conversing rather than speaking, and it seems more natural to you and to the audience. People mocked Reagan because he was a radio announcer and actor, but I believe these vocations gave him an excellent training for public office. Many politicians shout and berate others, which makes them look like lunatics. Reagan never did that. He spoke calmly, with good humor, and made you feel as if you were the only one in the audience. I show videos of his speeches to my students and encourage them to develop that spirit of genuineness.
From Mother Teresa, I learned that people will believe me to the degree that my life proves my message. Mother Teresa got a standing ovation each time she spoke in the United States in spite of her halting, broken English. When speakers act graciously, make sensible points, and give people a way to respond, they will be believed. And as Bert Decker says, youve got to be believed to be heard.
From Patrick Henry, I learned that if I have a sense of mission, I can speak boldly to any audience. I teach my students to imagine that they are on a mission to convey vital information desperately needed by the audience. This tends to turn their attention away from their anxieties and toward the audiences needs.