A taste of public speaking

14 March 2007

Courtesy of Dynamic Speakers Training Centre

On March 14 – 15 2007, several SHELTER ersidents, staff and youths from DropZone attended a public speaking training programe put together by Azmi Shahrin, a senior member of the Toastmasters International organization at SHETLER’s DropZone in PJ Old Town. In this 2-day programme, participants were taught the elements of public speaking and communication and many found the programme interesting, stimulating and practical as they were made to present and evaluate speeches.

SHELTER interviewed four of their residents who attended the training – namely Alvin*, 17; Elvira*, 18; Mandy*, 16 and Helen*,15.

S: What did you find most interesting about the training?

A: How to use body language, like the way you stand, facial expressions, hand movements. Also laughing together, making new friends and hearing people’s stories because we all had to tell our stories.

E: The presentation by Encik Azmi was very lively. It helped us to focus clearly.

M: The place we had the training was very nice.

H: Encik Azmi taught us about body language – eye contact gestures, facial expressions and correcting the speaker (who had just give a speech). Some of the SHELTER staff who were there also gave speeches. . . it was interesting to see that they also made mistakes because we always see them as ‘perfect’ or people who do not make mistakes.

S: Do you like to speak in public?

A: I like to talk but not in front of people.

E&M: Now that we have attended this training – yes, we would to speak in public because this training has helped us to build up our confidence.

H: I enjoyed it but it also depends on the situation – if I’m with familiar people, it’s okay

S: How did you feel when it was your turn to speak?

A: Nervous, scared, shy.

E&M: We both felt very nervous, at the same time excited. . .almost trembling. But we’re very happy that we attended this training.

H: At first, I felt nervous. I was speaking softly and it was difficult to make eye contact because I was in front of so many people and the centre of attention. During the last speech I felt shaky – not because I was nervous but felt like I wanted to cry because we were supposed to talk about our life and background.

S: So now that you have been through this training, would you be able to give a speech in public?

A: Yeah, maybe.

E&M: Yes, because this training has built up our confidence and it has helped us to overcome our fright to speak out openly in public.

H: It depends on the situation and what they want me to talk about.

S: Would you recommend this training programme to others?

A: Yeah, it was interesting.

E&M: Yes, we would because of the experiences we have gained.

H: Yeah, because it gave me more confidence to open up to others.

Meanwhile, Azmi and his friend Danny who helped conduct this public speaking programme for the first time to children at SHELTER, felt that they were richly awarded by the experience. They were deeply moved by the participants’ sharing of their traumatic experience when the children were asked to give their respective speeches. Clearly touched by the children’s unselfish sharing, they were also reminded of the values of acceptance, understanding and forgiveness that prevailed. Azmi was simply amazed at the resilience of the participants too in the face of their personal problems as they each harboured delightful optimism for the future.

Both Azmi’s and Danny’s spirits were uplifted too when they heard the children articulating their lofty ideals and ambitions – Mandy wants to be a lawyer for the poor because the poor do not get justice; silent Cassie for her courage to dream and become a famous singer; and Helen wants to be a world famous designer. The trainers were grateful too that they were given two days to have had the opportunity of transforming SHELTER’s shy and timid wards into confident and articulate communicators as they learnt much from the children in return. They look forward to conducting more of such training programmes in the future so that everyone serving SHELTER could benefit as well.

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