Since 2021, the Selective High School Placement Test has followed a new format. The Thinking Skills section replaces the old General Ability section, with a focus on higher-order thinking skills…
About the author
Christopher Taplin is a university-trained educator with more than 15 years’ experience in classrooms including executive experience as an educational administrator. He is also a trained stage performer, gracing the stages at Opera Australia. To complete this trifecta, Chris is an extremely experienced speaker, winning many awards, including competing at State level contests, adjudicating public speaking and debating contests and presenting at the Professional Speakers Association.
As Founder and Director of Australian Speakers Academy, Chris combines all these disciplines to deliver his passion, the development of effective communication in School students, ensuring that the message is always memorabl.
Educationalists around the world acknowledge students need to master the four C’s: – Communication, Critical Thinking, Collaboration and Creativity to thrive in the 21st Century. Today I would like to draw your attention to an activity, which will assist with all four and so much more. That is Public Speaking. More than just communication. Done well, student’s co-currently develop the skills and attributes required to positively impact on the other three. But could there be a further C? What about Confidence? Many parents express a concern that a vital, yet often over looked element of not only academic, but also social and personal development, is the confidence to achieve which is critical for success at school and beyond.
Effective communication skills are not just essential for academic success; they are universally recognised as critical foundations for successful careers, interpersonal relationships and self-belief. The common theme in successful individuals from all fields of endeavour is their capacity to speak in public with absolute confidence. Not only does this assist with a student’s estimation of their abilities, it also convinces others to have confidence in them, thus opening doors not only academically, but also well beyond the school gate. Furthermore, by improving communication skills, students are being taught to think critically, justify their opinions and analyse their intended audience. The more adept they become in logical reasoning through speech, they are more likely to engage with subjects that require logical reasoning such as science and maths.
Learning to be a confident, charismatic communicator is at the heart of academic and personal achievement. Displaying that charisma leads to personal success. What is the value of an idea that cannot be correctly conveyed? Many would say, not much. An applicant for employment or promotion can have great proficiency in technical skills, yet if an idea can not be communicated it cannot be implemented, thus having no value to employers. Results from the Workforce Connections study funded by the United States Office of International Development (USAID), identified communication skills (including oral communication) as one of its five critical “soft skills” young people need to succeed in the workplace. Moreover, communication skills help students to articulate their ideas in a clear, concise and logical manner, which assists them in making sense of their thought processes. Developing communication and presentation skills is also invaluable in building proficiency in vocabulary, grammar and rhetorical techniques. Students that can express themselves clearly will have increased self-esteem in their ability to communicate, and as a result will be empowered to succeed when presenting school assessment tasks in front of their peers and within high-stakes situations such as job interviews.
Communication and listening skills appear in both the Australian National Curriculum and the NSW English syllabus and are an integral part of teaching and learning. Due to time restraints or lack of expertise in the subject matter, many teachers skim over the fundamentals. Research conducted by Cambridge University indicates that a staggering 57% of teachers indicate that they are not given any formal training or professional development in this area. Given that assessments at each level of schooling require an oral presentation and this can be as high as 15% of a student’s mark, that is a lot of marks that could be in jeopardy.
What makes confident presentations you may ask? Like any skill, it is made of a series of building blocks which when practiced, combine to empower the speaker to engage with their audience.
These building blocks include language, structure, body language, speech structure, effective visual aids and the voice through which this is carried. All must be crafted with the audience and the message in mind.
Let me take Voice as an example. Did you know that the way you breathe and stand has a dramatic effect on the quality of the sound and the way you are perceived? How you vary that sound in terms of volume, rate, inflection and other dynamics has a significant effect on how the message is received by the audience.
That is why Australian Speakers Academy conduct enriching, engaging and entertaining courses to empower children to learn this invaluable life-long skill. Participants will learn the do’s (and perhaps more importantly the don’ts) of effective presentation and impromptu speaking. Through these exercises in self and peer evaluation they see their critical thinking, creativity, collaboration, communication and of course confidence improve.
Master Coaching Learning will soon be hosting the Australian Speakers Academy at their Hurstville centre. Look out for more information