Dear CSSW Families, Staffs and Friends:
Having arrived at the successful completion of the 2016-17 school year, I am gratified to launch our new class of graduates into the world. I know that they have attained a cumulative set of skills that will serve them well in the next stage of life. Today, I would like to focus on one particular skill that, in my opinion, does not receive sufficient attention – namely, public speaking.
At CSSW, each year one of our most important school-wide events is the Public Speaking Contest. I have long held the position that this exercise, and the work that is associated with preparing for it properly, contains all the key qualities that we try to instill in our students. When I observe the varying results of each individual’s performance, I catch a glimmer of much of the relevant elements in that student’s life.
This is what I see:
- The willingness to stand in front of an audience, and subject yourself to judgement, requires courage. Many shy away from it, to their detriment.
- The chosen subject – be it personal, humorous, conventional or bland – reveals a tangible facet of your mind.
- The option to recite the speech, rather than merely reading it, demands a higher level of commitment and effort. It signals to others that you care about what you do.
- The quality of the voice in the delivery is crucial: a clear, enunciated speech connects you to others in the room.
- Steady eye contact with the audience means you project yourself and are not afraid to have the spotlight on you.
- Body language is correlated with your mental and emotional state, and is a reflection of your preparation, practice, anxiety and attitude.
- The quality and style of dress says a lot about how you wish to present yourself to your peers and superiors.
- The reception your peers show you is an indication of their feelings toward you and your standing in the group.
- Your introduction, closing and how you handle mistakes during the speech speaks volumes about your character.
- Finally, the amount of overall care and effort you put into the event is a reliable indicator of how you approach other tasks and challenges.
Some might say that I put too much weight on a single event. But for me, this one individual performance is a most revealing exercise in self identity, perseverance, work ethic and capacity to respond to a challenge. These are all traits we seek to develop in our students, and we see some of the results when they stand up in front of us.
On behalf of the CSSW Board of Directors
F. J. Chu