When you speak in public,youre expressing yourself. Expression is an important aspect of our lives. When you express yourself with other people,you become more confident. It opens up the world for you, says Prasad Sovani. The power of expression is what Sovani hopes to bring to some under-privileged students in the city by engaging them in a Gavel Club.
The concept of a Gavel Club will come to the city for the first time through Toastmasters International,where Sovani is district governor for over 150 Toastmasters clubs in the country. Like the adult sessions in Toastmasters,a Gavel Club is an international concept that helps children under 18 to discover communication and leadership skills through public speaking sessions. Communication is a skill acquired once,but used in all aspects of life at work,at home,with friends. That is why even after entrance tests and in job interviews they ask you to speak; because they want people who can communicate effectively, he says.
Three schools have been approached for the programme,of which Gopal High School in Sadashiv Peth and Hutatma Rajguru Vidyalaya near Hanuman Nagar have confirmed participation. Most of these children come from slum areas; their mothers work as domestic help and their fathers are usually drunkards, says Sovani. The gavel clubs will be organised in Marathi for the benefit of the students,and the material will also be translated. The costs of preparing the material,organising the sessions and engaging the trainers and evaluators will be borne by Toastmasters and by some corporate sponsors,says Sovani.
The Gavel Club meetings will be held once a week starting this month. In a typical session,there are three sections prepared speeches,impromptu speeches and speech evaluation. The students will be asked to deliver prepared speeches between five to seven minutes,and impromptu speeches in one or two minutes. The challenge lies in condensing everything you want to say in those few minutes, he adds.
A speech evaluator then tells them how they have fared in criteria such as body language,voice modulation and persuasive skills. The evaluator does not just tell the participant to improve body language,instead he gives specific pointers such as at what point and how the student can use body language to add impact to the speech, says Sovani. The club will also invite guest speakers from different professions to speak to the participants and explain different career options to them.
While the programmes long term goal is to help make the children responsible citizens in the future,in the short run it should help them get better at whatever they do. It doesnt necessarily have to be academics. They will become more confident and it will show them many different options. Someone who was thinking of becoming an electrician may want to become a computer engineer, he says.