Last Friday marked day two of our SAY! Advocacy University. We focused on how to improve our communication skills in order to become better facilitators. Having these skills in our toolbox will allow us to spread the SMART Youth word about sexual health more effectively.
We discussed the importance and principles of public speaking, which include diction, posture, talking speed/volume, eye contact, and looking presentable. When we look and sound confident in what we’re talking about, the audience feeds off of our energy and are more likely to pay attention to what we’re saying. This means making eye contact with audience members; making sure we project our voice and enunciate while we speak; dressing and speaking appropriately depending on the audience; and avoiding verbal ticks such as ‘um’ and ‘like’. We also talked about what makes us afraid of public speaking and the ways we can combat those fears. These include breathing exercises and “faking it ‘till you make it” in order to calm our nerves or boost confidence. Practicing our presentation skills is very important because, like a resume, “how” we present is often holds more weight than “what” we present.
Next, we learned techniques on how to use our public speaking skills as group facilitators. It’s one thing to be able to present information well; it’s another thing to take those presentation skills and lead a group discussion. Being an open person and a good listener are some of the very helpful tips we learned that helps us to become better discussion leaders. Other people may have different – often opposing – viewpoints for a topic, but being able to successfully moderate those differences often creates fruitful discussions. Our youth were then put to the test and asked to practice their newly learned skills. Practice topics ranged from talking about One Direction to discussing if community service should be required for young people.
As advocates, we want our messages to be heard loud and clear. Equipping our youth with these communication skills will ultimately help them to become better advocates and leaders! Come join us for our next SAY! Advocacy University workshop on Friday, August 8th!