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  • Writer's picturePatricia Bernard

Stand Up, Speak Up!

As a born storyteller I have never had any problems making impromptu speeches. I’m nervous at the beginning but once I get started I’m fine. However, I do have a problem sticking to the script of a written speech, unlike my husband who won the Toast Masters’ Speech Contest for the World in the USA (the first Australian to do so!). Speech-making is in my family’s blood. My children have trained with Toast masters, public speaking is a big part of their careers.

Many adults and teenagers aren’t confident at making a speech. They suffer distress and nervousness when they have to stand up and make one or when they go for a job interview. They lack confidence. They are unsure of how they look and sound. They are afraid of appearing silly or stupid. Their legs freeze and they become tongue-tied. This is why learning speech making and debating at school is so important.

This is also why Marcelle Bernard wrote her book Stand Up Speak Up. This book includes a template for every type of speech that a person or teen will ever need including how to plan it, prepare it, practice it and speak it. How there can never be too much preparation and practice.

I wrote I 'd rather swim with sharks than make a speech, as a partner book to Stand Up, Speak Up because I have often found it easier to learn something important from novels. The plot is about 7 teenagers who enter a Shopping Centre speech-making competition to win the ‘Four go to Bali’ prize. None of the 7 has made a speech before and all are in competition with each other. I'd rather swim with sharks than make a speech includes the bullying of Shona’s young brother and what she does about it – which amounts to her bullying in retaliation. Woven into the story is a grandmother who wears the clothing she sells at her Fancy Dress Shop, an absent father with a new wife and baby, a single, hard working mother, an unpleasant school principal, fashion and daggy school uniforms, a first boyfriend, football and a group of snotty girls at the heroine’s new school.

I particularly like my main character Shona and her crazy imagination. And I really wanted her to win. But she is upset because her best girl friends are no longer her best friends. Someone steals her speech making clothes. And she is sure she looks like a brown cow patty in her old fashioned school uniform and her dad is sick.

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