WeVoi is a new and exciting public speaking competition for young people aged 10-19. Yet, why is such a competition necessary? I think there are 3 reasons: to alleviate some of the negative effects of social media on communication, to fill a gap in the schooling system, and to ensure young people’s voices are heard.
With the rise of the usage of social media in everyday life, it is absolutely vital to ensure that the younger generation develops the communication skills and confidence not necessarily developed otherwise. I think that as social media becomes more and more popular amongst teenagers and young adults, the skills learned by face-to-face human conversation are not as well practiced as before. While of course younger people still have real life conversation, it is something that doesn’t happen as often as it used to. Especially in family life I think the practice of speaking to family members instead of being on your phone is slowly being lost. This may be cynical, but I experience this too. While social media only became a huge thing when I was already a teenager, I think my confidence and ability to hold conversation with adults and others my age is not as developed as it could be. I consider this to be directly correlated to how much time I spend on social media. Furthermore, most careers are still very much communication focused. While automation is growing, it will be jobs that require human thought and conversation that will be left. For the younger generation to succeed in these careers, they must be used to giving presentations, communicating in meetings, and networking with other professionals, and to do that, they must have sufficient communication skills.
This is why a competition like WeVoi is so important. It teaches young people how to communicate clearly and precisely and to have the confidence to do so. All participants have the opportunity to practice public speaking online and in person. This allows students to be able to first develop their skills in presenting their ideas clearly and not necessarily having the pressure of an audience in front of them.
I have talked a little bit about how WeVoi will help to develop public speaking skills in young people, but I will now address the second reason for participating in WeVoi.
I am from the UK so I can only speak in terms of the UK school system however I’m sure it’s similar in other countries. Schools teach us many brilliant skills and provide as much opportunity to speak publicly as possible. However, I think the focus is more often on gaining grades than developing your personal aptitude and confidence with speaking in public. It is extremely important, for reasons mentioned previously, that we make sure there is some provision for students to develop these vital skills, and WeVoi can be that platform.
Finally, how many times do you think young people have been told they are ‘naive’ or ‘haven’t got enough life experience for their opinion to count’? I know I’ve heard it many times, and it causes the younger generation to think their opinions are simply invalid, or that they have no effect because they are not listened to. It is so important to change this because it completely undermines young people’s confidence in their own opinions, and their faith in other people listening to them. WeVoi allows this attitude to be dispelled. In WeVoi, every opinion expressed is listened to and valued. Students as young as 10 will be able to discuss important topics and have their views heard by people all over the world. Due to the international nature of the competition (as most of it is online) they are able to reach people of a variety of cultures and backgrounds. This is so important for the self confidence of the younger generation, and without it, young people will simply feel disparaged and discouraged from ever expressing their opinion.
I hope it is clear as to why WeVoi is such an important competition and if WeVoi’s aim sounds like something you would love to be a part of, then please apply! We want to hear as many people’s opinions as possible!
Katie Roach, August 2018