Youth Views of Experiences and Benefits of Public Speaking

Ben Silliman


Ninety-eight youth participants, ages 9-17, involved in a public speaking event reported that preparation and presentation of a 5-12 minute demonstration or illustrated talk improved confidence, knowledge of a selected topic and skills in communicating, goal setting, organizing, working with others, and doing research. Positive benefits were reported from first-year as well as multi-year participants. Most youth surveyed indicated that they participated by choice and received adequate assistance in preparation for speaking. Similar results were found for a smaller group (N = 20) involved in a non-competitive performing arts event. A randomly-selected group (N = 37) interviewed about the extended effects of public speaking revealed that the experience helped them in school presentations, community leadership, and more in-depth involvement in specific topic areas. Implications of results for youth programming and engaging wider audiences of youth are discussed.

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