International Women’s Day: How speech and drama helps girls grow into confident young women

This month we celebrated International Women’s Day on Sunday 8 March. As such, we thought it would be a good time to reflect on how the skills gained in speech and drama can help young girls grow into confident young women.

1. They learn how to make themselves heard

It is a natural habit of the Australian accent to end declarative statements on an upward inflection, effectively turning them into a question.

While this poses no problem in informal conversation, when speaking publicly it undermines the authority of the speaker.

By enunciating clearly, speaking with volume to the end of sentences and eliminating equivocating words such as ‘um’, students learn how to speak in such a way that ensures that they will be listened to and taken seriously.

2. They learn to speak for themselves

Women are often taught to apologise for voicing an opinion, for disagreeing with another person, or for just being themselves. This is a habit that can inhibit them in many situations throughout their life.

Students at Viva Voice speak in front of a group of their classmates every week. By frequently practising public speaking, which can be an Achilles’ heel for so many, our students are used to speaking unapologetically to a room of people.

3. They learn how to listen

At Viva Voice we respect each other first and foremost by listening to each other. Listening is done not just with the ears, but with the whole body. Our students learn that being a good listener is essential for being a good speaker.

This means that while a student or teacher is speaking, other students are not talking, doodling or staring out of the window. They are engaged and feel involved in what the speaker is saying.

Our students learn how to be a good audience by giving their attention to the speaker, making eye contact with the person speaking, and contributing feedback or asking questions when the speaker is ready.

By promoting this level of respect, each student feels valued in the classroom and learns to appreciate the role of the speaker AND the audience.

4. They learn how to feel confident in their stance

A necessary element of having a clear, strong voice is holding yourself confidently. Our students are taught to stand with their feet confidently planted on the ground, to be open without crossing their arms or slouching, and to make clear, steady eye contact with their audience.

This allows students to take up their space; they don’t make themselves smaller or bigger, they simply be as they are. This stance will lead to them feeling confident in their voice, and will show to others that they are confident in themselves.

These skills stay with students throughout their lives

Standing and speaking confidently gives students a presence, whether they be speaking or listening in the classroom, with friends, or representing their school or community at an event.

Having confidence allows our students to speak their mind, to stand up for themselves or others and to be comfortable in their sense of self.

These are all traits we want to see in the next generation, and we have seen them flourish in our students.

Here’s to strong women, may we know them, may we be them, may we raise them.