Public Speaking

The end of the school year means many public speaking opportunities for the Principal. I wanted to improve in this administrative area and it is a big part of my job. In reflecting on this time period, there were 11 occasions that I needed to speak publicly. They were in a variety of venues and audiences.

  • Diploma Programme Visual Arts Exhibition (April 14)- I had to welcome everyone, introduce and comment on all of the student-artists, and thank the faculty sponsoring the show. It was at a downtown gallery with about 50 people present.
  • Support Staff Celebration (April 20) – Recognize my three support staff personnel at a restaurant.
  • Guest Speaker for Grade 4 (April 26) -Speak to the 30+ fourth grade students on my family’s immigration to America and Bolivia
  • Serbian Language Class Play (May 16)- Introduce and welcome everyone to the Grade 7 Serbian Play. There were approximately 50 people present and the speech was in Serbian!
  • Awards Ceremony for MS Volleyball Tourney (May 10-12)  I opened and closed the volleyball tourney. There were approximately 150 people at the ceremonies and I announced the winners of the trophies and recognized the AD.
  • Dr. Sands’ Farewell Celebration – (May 18)
  • Grade 5 Parents Meeting (June 4)- Give a presentation about homework to the Grade 5 parents whose children will be in Middle School
  • Athletics Awards Banquet (May 21) – Review the boys’ basketball season and give awards to three players.
  • Commencement (May 26)- I did the opening address to a group of 250 people. It was a formal speech with the podium and stage.
  • Retirement Ceremony (June 6) – 400+ people
  • Student Awards and Farewell Assembly (June 14)

My big “take-aways” from this were as follows:

1) Prepare well! I think several days in advance before the speaking engagement and write  out either the major ideas, for a short speech, or write the entire speech, word-for-word, for those major speaking opportunities like graduation. Preparing in advance allows me to reflect subconsciously on what I am going to say and make improvements.

2) Discuss the speech with someone. This especially helps if I speak with another of the speakers’ for the event or the sponsor of the event. This allows me to craft my speech to fit the occasion and make sure I am not leaving any areas out.

3)  Growing up I had a severe stutter and it is amazing as an adult I am able to make a living by public speaking and speaking with others. Stuttering is more common in boys and many outgrow it, and luckily, this was the case with me. I struggled with my stutter all the way through college. I believe a stutterer is never completely clear of the problem, and I still need to be aware of it today, although at a much lesser level. When I am nervous or tired, I do notice the fluency in my speaking patterns falters. I still need to be conscious of it and take steps to keep this flow, or fluency. One thing that works for me is to read out loud the night before. The act of reading out loud for 15-20 minutes, somehow in my mind, triggers a fluency in my speaking. Having young children is a bonus in this area and many nights I read something to my children before they go to bed.

We discussed public speaking with the administrative team. We agreed to video our delivery at a faculty meeting or event. We would then watch the video and reflect on what we did well and how we can improve. For this class, I will watch the Commencement video, which was live streamed, and then reflect on it in a blog post.

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One thought on “Public Speaking

  1. It is a very good idea running the speech by people. Even world class speakers do that. It’s just hard to see your speech from the outside by yourself.

    Also, did you know that Craig Valentine, who won the world championship in public speaking, stuttered when he was young. In an interview, he said that he stuttered so badly as a child that one adult told him he should stop talking. So it can definitely be overcome.

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