It is World Speech Day on 15th March. When I first saw the title, I thought it was the school event that celebrated a small number of star pupils at school, whilst everyone else felt like an ‘also ran’: BUT in fact it is a day celebrating everyone’s ability to speak and in particular encouraging people to listen to #unexpectedvoices.
- Last week there was a woman who was the victim of FGM on Radio Two, talking about her experience. It was horrifying, yet informative. Many people were supportive of her, but a minority “Didn’t want to listen when eating their lunch”…
- An old person’s views might be dismissed, yet they have a wealth of experience, stories and history that is fascinating to listen to.
- Girls and young women now have much more confidence in speaking and being heard, although I am the first to admit there is still more work to do to get women heard.
- One group that is struggling to be heard is that of teenaged boys and young men. My son’s headmaster confirmed that boys at his school are less confident in discussions as they are dominated by the girls! In debates, business pitching competitions and other activities involving speaking, the boys under perform. Perhaps this is the time to focus on developing boys’ confidence and communication skills.
- In Europe we are focussed on the migrant crisis and there is a lot of discussion about how Europe will cope with the increased population. But #unexpectedvoices would encourage a refuge to share their story: of how they fled a war zone to be safe.
Being heard is exactly that. And part of being heard is making it easy for the audience to listen to you. This is something I say a lot! If you speak fast, speak slower; if you have a strong accent, speak slower; if you speak quietly, learn how to project your voice so you can be heard. That is why it is so confusing that some TV actors are mumbling and not being heard. They have text; words that need to be heard by the audience, but if it isn’t AUDIBLE, what is the point of the audience being engaged. Perhaps when they sort out their technique, they will become #unexpectedvoices because we will be able to hear them!