Grooming young public speakers


Yes We Can: Expanding the rich history of speech delivery
Photo: Provided

STUDENTS interested in public speaking will have a new outlet to practice their oratory talents with the launch of the Wits Public Speaking Academy.

Jamie Mighti, the academy’s curator, said over 600 students, staff and alumni had signed up for the academy last year in November. He said the academy was recently approved by the SRC (student representatives council) as a club and society.

Mighti said he had a series of meetings with the Wits Debating Union (WDU) and they agreed there was a public speaking vacuum on campus that needed to be filled.

[pullquote]”You give people the opportunity not only to impact society, but to comment on society on a public platform”[/pullquote]

According to Mighti there was significant interest in public speaking among students who wanted to improve their skills, as debating did not provide the kind of flexibility and creativity needed for proficiency in public speaking.

The academy, which held its first session on February 19, seeks to teach and practice three specific areas of public speaking: speech writing, speech delivery and historic speeches. Members are trained by experienced speakers, some from WDU. The speeches range from informative speeches and business presentations to political, comedic, storytelling and motivational speeches.

“You give people the opportunity not only to impact society, but to comment on society on a public platform. These kinds of things bring people together and we impact society like that,” said advisory board member Thamsanqa Pooe, 1st year BA.

Fellow board member Awande Zwane said they wanted to establish the sort of environment where any person would feel comfortable.

“A lot of people who came to the Academy came because they are not confident with speaking in public or they stammer,” she said. “People come because they know that they are there to grow and that’s the environment we’re creating.”

Maame Boateng, 3rd year Law, said she was inspired by the participation in the academy and the platform it provided.

“I was genuinely touched when listening to the young Africans speaking about the dreams they had for Africa, how they wanted to bring Africa’s glory back,” Boateng said.

Mighti said membership to the academy was free at the moment which was being run through a system of crowd funding by the advisory board.  He added that other potential donors have come forward.

“There have been some interesting offers made to us in relation to funding….both internal and external sources who love what we are doing. So if we succeed in producing the kind of product we want to produce, this will always be a free organisation,” said Mighti.

The next session of the academy will take place next Wednesday at Umthombo lecture hall 2.