Part of Helsinki Education Week, a workshop titled Making Young Voices Heard: Public Speaking and Self-Expression taught schoolchildren and students how to turn natural performance nerves into genuine excitement.
The event took place on 5 November at Helsinki’s Central Library Oodi. The annual Helsinki Education Week, part of the official side program for Finland’s Presidency of the Council of the European Union, is organised this week for a second time.
The workshop was closely linked to Helsinki Education Week’s theme this year, which is student voice.
It was all about equipping children and youth with the tools to help them enhance their oration, communication, self-expression and public speaking skills. Led by Dr. Anna Nikina-Ruohonen, founder of Public Speaking Pro, the workshop explored some of the best practices in teaching public speaking, oration and self-expression skills to children and young people through exercises, practical examples and hands on interaction.
"Let them shine"
“During the event children presented, debated and competed in front of a live audience. Give the children the right tools and they will shine. Learning communication skills can be a genuinely fun and engaging experience!,” explained Anna Nikina-Ruohonen.
The workshop proved that, when given the opportunity, children are able to demonstrate originality of thought and depth of vision. With the right tools and approach young voices carry depth and substance transcending age, geography and other boundaries. It was extremely well received by the representatives of educational institutions.
“International School of Helsinki places great importance on students learning to express themselves effectively. The school runs a speech and debate club and Model United Nations, along with lots of curricular experiences focused on self-expression. Today’s event was a great way for the students to get in touch with the real world and to practice their communication skills in a new setting,” remarked Ben Thrash, Deputy Head school at International School of Helsinki.
Kevin Gore, senior lecturer at Haaga-Helia University of Applied Sciences, said that “Helsinki nowadays is a truly international environment, bringing together students of various age groups, different cultural backgrounds and social settings. Seeing the students engage actively in the event today has definitely been valuable for better understanding of each other’s perspectives, learning to speak up, express themselves and listen to each other. It’s a great way to strengthen individual confidence and communication in teams.”
Making Young Voices Heard brought schoolchildren, students, education leaders and teachers together for an engaging learning experience. The young participants enjoyed the opportunity to get outside their comfort zone and enhance their skills.
"From today’s event I developed new skills of coming up with arguments and ideas on the spot, without too much preparation. This was a good opportunity to learn to improvise as opposed to having it all planned out. It’s exciting to speak in front of a live audience!,” said Daniel, a 14-year-old student.
Another student of the same age, Sebastien, celebrated that “we were able to share our opinions, use our creativity, debate and have fun. It’s the best part when people listen to you and are interested in what you have to say”.
*Images included in this article by Public Speaking Pro.