As students move on from high school to university, their public speaking skills become increasingly important. In an attempt to teach Garneau students “the nuances of public speaking”, Ryerson Toastmasters hosted a presentation on Wednesday, 6 March 2019 in the MGCI library. The session included tips on networking, pitching, and interviewing, along with engaging activities to practice these skills.

Toastmasters is an international club operating at many universities, and aims to teach people of all ages public speaking and leadership skills. There were three sessions hosted in periods 1, 2, and 3  for public speaking, drama, and technology classes, as well as for students with spare periods in the morning, to attend.

The event commenced with students doing stretches led by the energetic hosts to make everyone feel comfortable and get in the right mindset for the presentation ahead. The hosts then started the presentation with an important aspect of entering the working worldhow to build strong networking skills. This included some tips on how to initiate a conversation with a potential future employer, how to listen actively, and the importance of being prepared and asking questions.

Two hosts from Ryerson Toastmasters led a presentation on public speaking. Image: Russell Ijaya

Students also got a chance to participate in a competition in two teams, where each side had approximately one minute to deliver a sales pitch outlining why consumers should buy their imaginary product. There were three rounds and at the end of each one, hosts gave the participants’ constructive feedback about their pitches.

Tying the presentation back to school, the hosts taught students about the “three building blocks of presentations”: structure, delivery, and preparation. Students also had the opportunity to ask questions about any further tips they wanted to improve their presentations.

Students learned about the three building blocks of presentations. Image: Russell Ijaya

Once again breaking from the presentation, the hosts divided ten student volunteers into pairs and had approximately two minutes to prepare for their own version of “Dragon’s Den”. Both teams presented their business ideas, and also answered questions from their investors (the audience). Grade 10 student Alviya Siddiqui thought the activity was an effective way of encouraging innovation, saying, “both teams had amazing ideas and their way of presenting these ideas was also very nice.”

Wrapping up the presentation, the hosts discussed what is considered most important when entering the workplace—interview skills. Students were taught some dos and don’ts to be able to have successful interviews.

“We have previously done an in-class workshop with Mr. Lawrence’s public speaking class and we have now expanded it to a larger audience. It’s great to see so many students engaging and asking questions. Ryerson [University] also plans to organize a conference at our campus about public speaking in May [for MGCI students] to help students improve and build on to their skills,” said Ali Bokhari, one of the two hosts for today’s event and a first-year student at Ryerson. Overall, the response from both students and teachers alike was great. Students were able to learn a variety of skills that will hopefully help them be more confident and also open up more opportunities for them in the future.