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OSU Extension

College of Food, Agricultural, and Environmental Sciences

February 23, 2015 - 10:03am --

It is no secret that most people have a great fear of public speaking.  Most people would say verbal communication skills are an important part of our daily lives.  I use public speaking skills each day at work when I am on the phone with a donor, talking to a 4-H parent, addressing a concern at a meeting, promoting 4-H at a community event, giving a presentation at a conference or teaching programs to 4-H advisors.  With technology and gadgets today, our teens are losing the value of good public speaking skills.  The next time you go to church or dinner with your family take note of how many teens are on their cell phone.  Texting is great, but our teens will need to have good public speaking skills to compete in a global marketplace. 

I purchased my first cell phone after I graduated from college.  In college, we had pay phones.  If you want to see a pay phone today you will have to go to a museum.  There is no telling what kind of effect cell phones would have had on my generation.  My kids have grown up with computers and cell phones.  I can remember in middle school that I was that shy student that always hoped that the teacher would not call on me in class to answer a question.  As we get closer to Easter Sunday I can remember it was always a painstaking task for me to say my Easter speech before the church congregation.  It always felt like a load of bricks were lifted off my chest after returning to my seat after saying my Easter speech.  The good news is that I broke out of my shyness once I enrolled in a public speaking class in college.  I have also been a member of Toastmasters since 2006.  Toastmasters are a nonprofit educational organization of clubs throughout the world dedicated to teaching skills in public speaking and leadership.  Toastmaster club meetings are my personal practice fields for improving my public speaking skills that I use every day in my personal and professional life.

A study by the Pew Research Center and the University of Michigan found that nearly one out of three kids between 12 and 17 years of age sent 100 or more texts a day.  Seventy-five percent of the teens in the study owned cell phones and that number is rising fast.  How many places this week have you observed teens on their cell phones?  I see kids on their cell phones all the time.  I think we all would have a difficult time living without our cell phones today.  In some small way I believe cell phones have taken over our lives.  Our teens have great skills texting but are losing out on how to have a conversation, present information to their peers in class, or interview for a job.  This could have a negative effect on their lives forever.   

Spring will be here before we know it.  I know this is hard to think about with snow on the ground and the chilly temperatures we have experienced this month.  However, spring will arrive soon enough and our teens will once again start thinking about putting in job applications for that summer job.  For many, completing the application is easily done within minutes.  The fear increases once a face to face interview is scheduled.  How long will the interview last?  How many questions will I have to answer?  How long will I have to talk?  What if I fail to come up with an answer to the question?  These are all questions that may not only run through the minds of teens but also adults.  For our youth, learning communication skills will help them to navigate their world and prepare for the workforce, civic engagements, and family roles they will assume as young adults.  Great public speaking skills promotes confidence, life skills, and subject knowledge.

Technology has reduced the amount of verbal communication.  The first cell phone I ever had only allowed me to talk.  Today cell phones allow us to talk, text, check email, and the number of apps is endless.  Teens today text so much, in my opinion, that verbal communication skills have simply been lost.  I would like to challenge youth to come out to a fun workshop that will help them become better public speakers when they go out to interview for that summer job, project interviews at the Butler County Fair, school presentations and scholarship interviews.

What:  Public Speaking Workshop

When:  Thursday April 16, 2015

RSVP Deadline:  Monday April 13, 2015 to

*  Where:  OSU Extension Office, 1802 Princeton Rd., Ste. 400, Hamilton, OH 45011

*  Cost:  FREE

Target Audience:  Middle school and High school age youth

Note:  This workshop is for all youth (non 4-H and FFA members)

What will you learn?

(1) Tips on how to structure your speech.

(2) Tips on help to be comfortable speaking in front of small and large groups, and

(3) interview pointers.

For up-to-date program information, check us out on the web at:

News Release provided by Kevin Harris.