Jeff Myers believes that if ordinary people can overcome their fears of public speaking, they'll be able to influence the world around them more easily and more effectively. Besides the personal advantages of cultivating public speaking skills (the attainment of poise in social situations, renewed self-confidence, better elocution), those capable of oratory are also capable of reaching others and leading them to better thought and action.
This brief but meaty course is designed to help high school students develop key public speaking skills within the context of their personal goals, academic careers, and Christian faith. Myers is himself a capable and engaging speaker, carefully yet easily modeling the attributes of a good speaker which he identifies. Secrets of Great Communicators is an introductory program, but will more than set older students on the path toward strong and effective communication.
How Does This Work?
A DVD (with teacher CD-ROM) and a consumable student text are all you need for this course—while you could use one without the other, kids wouldn't be getting the full effect of the material. The DVD lectures and workbook material are complementary rather than wholly overlapping, so kids actually have to think rather than simply filling in the blanks. There is a fill-in-the-blank portion in the workbook that corresponds to each video lecture, but the rest is original and distinct material.
There are six video lectures (in addition to the introductory talk), all filmed in front of a live audience. Myers speaks easily but with passion, integrating biblical truth whenever it's appropriate. The consumable workbook has supplemental material as well as room for written work. Two appendixes in the workbook are invaluable: the first guides students through the process of writing an effective speech outline, while the second provides an extensive bibliography for further study and research.
In the lectures, Myers encourages students by presenting the essential elements of good public speaking, in turn demonstrating them himself as he teaches. Topics include organization, presentation, audience analysis, conquering fear, etc. While his style may be a bit on the over-animated side for some, this is part of the point: speakers must come out of themselves in order to effectively communicate with their listeners.
The workbook content supports and elaborates the lectures, rather than reiterating them. In each chapter, Myers focuses on the strengths of a famous speech-giver, like Winston Churchill and Patrick Henry, showing how their example can make students of today (or adults, for that matter) into better mass communicators. Plenty of exercises help kids put into practice what they've learned, and develop their skills in a controlled environment. (A teacher's guide CD-ROM is included with the DVD.)
This isn't a rhetoric or persuasion-based course. Students are expected to have little or no practice speaking publicly, and Myers is determined to help them overcome their fears, build their confidence, and give them the basic tools to move forward. The material doesn't specifically address the different kinds of speeches (persuasive, informative, etc.), instead focusing on the elements of speaking that apply to all speeches, lectures, and addresses.
Our Honest Opinion
This is the best course of its kind we've seen. While there are more in-depth speech programs, there are no others as genuinely introductory that address students' fears directly and equip them for the public eye and public delivery. Secrets of Great Communicators is easy to use (whether teacher- or student-directed), and is a great tool for those wanting to teach or speak, as well as for those who simply want to improve their communication skills.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he is a husband and father, teaches adult Sunday school in his Presbyterian congregation, and likes weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here.
Review by C. Hollis Crossman
C. Hollis Crossman used to be a child. Now he's a husband and father who loves church, good food, and weird stuff. He might be a mythical creature, but he's definitely not a centaur. Read more of his reviews here
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