Lessons on public speaking can be lifelong

Published 9:52 am Wednesday, September 13, 2017

I echo The Winchester Sun’s editorial on Saturday, Sept. 2, titled “Speaking in public is a vital skill.”

I was a member of the 4-H Club for six years and never had the courage to enter a speech or demonstration contest. Our daughter, on the other hand, competed nine times. We were not surprised, then, when she decided to major in communication in college. 

I have judged the 4-H speech contest for more than 20 years, including at Baker Intermediate School and the Cooperative Extension Office this year. I have been amazed at the growth of this program and the number of volunteer judges. This year, approximately 900 students participated in the Clark County 4-H speech contest.

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I have been impressed with their teachers coaching them to speak loudly and slowly and maintain eye contact with their different audiences. 

The speech contests progress from the schools to the county, to the eight-county area, and finally to the state. This year at the state speech contest, first place winners in their respective age groups were T. J. Svoboda (16) and Hannah Runyon (12). Second place finishers were Dahlia Svoboda (17-18) and Lily Roberts (10). Hayden Turley (14) was third place, and Emma Durrence (11) received a blue ribbon. 

Sydney Miller was second place in the 16-18 year old mock interview competition, and Abby Rank received a blue ribbon in the demonstration contest. So this was a banner year for Clark County. 

The goods news is that public speaking training and development does not end after high school.

The Kentucky Foothills Toastmasters Club (formerly Clark County Toastmasters) was chartered by Toastmasters International in 1990. The club meets every Thursday from 12:05 to 1 p.m. at East Kentucky Power Cooperative. We help each other improve our communication and leadership skills in a fun and supportive environment. The cost is $51 every six months, and visitors are always welcome.

Graham Johns