In Your Opinion: Speak Up!

By Bill Connell, Somerset.

I was out to dinner recently with a friend who knows I have spoken at more then a few public meetings. He asked “do you lose your hearing when you speak?’”

The question made me think about what is happening to my body when I speak. I don’t go deaf but I do feel my body moving resources just to keep my mouth working.

Over the years I have taken the time to meet and know our public officials. I may disagree with how they do there job but as people they are all very nice. That is why I find it almost illogical how scared I feel sometimes. The act of getting up to the microphone is frightening if it is not what you enjoy doing . Whoever said imagine your audience naked has not been to a town council meeting. It doesn’t work .

In my hobbies I have had access to some really great people. I have been put in the position of having to get up and explain their ideas because they don’t want to get up in front of a large group. I have a loud-mouth, over-opinionated friend who tells me “you tell council or you tell the BOE.” I am forced to say, “you go tell them. God gave you legs.” I have yet to see this one-man think tank in front of a microphone.

I am in awe of people like Bill Grippo and Councilmen Carl Wright; they can get their point across and react to an audience like an entertainer. They make it look easy but this is really hard. Mayor Phil Kramer and Councilman Ted Chase don’t try to work an audience but are great at getting to the point without a script. Mr. Chase sometimes packs his sentences beyond my intellect. Nobody on the Board of Education sticks out only because they are parents trying to be helpful; the public meeting part is a necessary evil but they do ok.

This might be a good time to air out a pet peeve. After 15 years of putting kids through school, it amazes me how long-winded school administrators are in front of parents. ADD comes from somewhere so keeps your speeches snappy!

Whats the point? Over the years I have become aware of what a powerful tool public speaking is. As parents you should help your kids learn this skill as soon as possible. As an adult I know I have grown a lot from practice at it. I think the microphone is sometimes viewed as someone looking for attention, but it can be productive when used correctly. Have a go at it!


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