“That’s the trouble with young people today”.
So begins a complaint heard all across the land…
“The trouble with young people today, is that they all want to be TV PRESENTERS”.
“Either that, or they want to be famous”.
I take a slightly different view.
I think that all young people should want to be presenters.
Going further, I think that all young people should be presenters.
Madness? Here’s my thinking;
Two weeks ago I was standing in a San Francisco hotel room, flicking through what seemed like several hundred TV channels. My eye was drawn to PBS (the non-profit network), possibly in a misguided attempt to avoid the adverts. Tuning in, I saw what I assumed to be a highly polished actor championing the benefits of a healthy lifestyle. Blast, I thought. An advert. Our hero explained that Diabesity is coming to get us (and our little dog, too). He was slick. But he was an actor. Wasn’t he?
He wasn’t an actor. He was a medical doctor. And he was very, very good at presenting.
The thought niggled me the next day as I watched a series of British companies present their wares to a room full of Silicon Valley investors. Every one of them had something fantastic to offer. Every one of them saw their presenting skills improve, with practice, as the week went on.
Which brings me back to schools: We teach young people to read and write, with arithmetic thrown in for good measure. We don’t, as far as I’m aware, teach them to speak. If we do, we don’t go far enough.
School pupils should be taught how to speak in public. To pitch themselves and their ideas. If we don’t equip them with this basic ability, we are letting them down. This shouldn’t be reserved for the few, as they blow the dust off the lectern during debating society. It should be experienced by every pupil, in every class, in every school. It may well require outside helpers to support the teachers and give constructive feedback.
What is the use of aspiring to be the most inventive nation on earth if we can’t communicate with the rest of the world?
Having visited dozens of schools and having had the most incredible conversations with hundreds of pupils, I’m worried.
I’m worried that we’re turning into a stumbling, mumbling country, too distracted to clarify our thoughts and too inhibited to share them.
Next time you hear someone say they want to be a TV presenter – see it as an opportunity. Have a think about what a fantastic course would look like, taking that ambition and turning it into something great.
All young people should be presenters. Whether or not some of them make it in TV is another matter.
What do you think? Have we got something to worry about? What is already out there which develops public speaking skills in young people? Please leave a comment, either anonymously, or in your own name.