Worse than death by fire

When is the last time you were asked to stand up to say a few words? What was your response? Did you feel like you had lead in your shoes? Did you stumble over your words?

Nearly everyone of us will be asked to speak front of people at some point in our lives. The only way we get out of it is by dying young, in which case you are not reading this. For the rest of us, it is something to either endure, fear or learn to get good at and even enjoy. 

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Apparently, public speaking is something we should all working on, because we are better at it than computers. CBC Radio recently had a business column where the guest highlighted that to remain competitive in our workforce with ever-advancing technology, especially artificial intelligence, doing more work, we need to improve our “soft” skills, which includes public speaking. 

Throughout history, public speaking was more common. Evenings were spent telling stories. I have been told that the term “singing for your dinner” likely comes from the expectation that when stopping at a stagecoach waystation overnight, every passenger was expected to sing, or tell a story, play music or perform some kind of entertainment, in the evening. 

Today, we have a different lifestyle, and at a click we can watch the best speakers from around the world. However, watching is not the same as doing and our children, especially, need to be comfortable enough in front of people to explain their ideas, recite a beloved poem or portion of a favourite story, and most importantly, to tell their own story, so that they are equipped for their futures.

Show and tell, the Christmas or other special occasion school productions are the beginning of most public speaking experiences. Later, musicals, and drama or theatre classes and bigger productions, in high school. Seeing what often-distracted students can put together under the guidance of their teachers is wonderful.  It is amazing to watch shy children come out of their shells as they gain confidence in their voice and ability to tell a story.

Prince George has had a vibrant speech arts scene for many years. Many students have won at the Performing Arts Provincials, and last year local student Grace Li won at Carnegie Hall. Their  38th annual festival is happening April 25–May 1. Teachers are invited to enter their classes, and students can be entered individually as well. Some students choose to take speech arts and drama lessons from local teachers, others simply learn on their own. Adults are welcome to enter as well. 

So, consider this your invitation; whether you are a teacher with a class, a parent with children, or an adult wishing to improve your public speaking skills, to register for the festival. Information is online at our website www.princegeorgefestival.com. Online registration is from February 8-23.  


This is your and your child’s opportunity to outsmart AI.


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