Public speaking classes take center stage for business leaders

Newsroom 26/03/2008 | 15:46

“Oratory is an art that is learnt,” says Mihaela Ginju, Executive director in Erudio.
Fear of public speaking is a universal issue, hence innumerable programs in western countries targeted this problem, but in Romania, on account of a deficient educational system, things are even more dire. The concept of “learning” how to speak is not new but rather imported. Ginju says that unlike the Anglo-Saxon educational system where the exercise of speaking in public starts from the youngest ages and goes on until university, irrespective of the profile, our educational system prior to 1989 did not include among its preoccupations that of shaping leaders, for reasons well-known. “But today most of us deal with this challenge,” she says.
The Erudio Association initiated in 2006 the Erisma- Creative Leadership program and aims to teach trainees, through games, lectures and targeted exercises what are the outlines of a speech that should have an impact. This program targets leaders who are at the head of a team and also are placed in the limelight, those who have high-hierarchy positions in various organizations. The program is structured in four modules, namely Creative Writing, Theatrical Techniques, Debate & Dialogue and Public Speaking, on top of which there are other two, “The Cult Art” and “Personal Branding.” The underlying question is “What Makes People Follow You” which is tackled in various ways by the trainers in the program. These are people who are leaders of opinion and important cultural figures such as writers Horia Roman Patapievici, Gabriel Liiceanu, Mircea Cartarescu and Ioana Parvulescu, actors Oana Pellea, journalists Robert Turcescu and Mircea Toma and the list could continue.
There are three months of training for each of the two series of trainees – in spring and fall- for each they will pay EUR 5,000 plus VAT.
Until two or three years ago, it was most often the multinational companies which showed interest in public speaking programs. Now Romanian companies also prove growing interest in such out-of-the-box programs,” says Camelia Downie, Managing Partner and Founder in Downie Management Consulting (DMC). The company has a three-day program called “The Art of Public Speaking” which contains two days of Public Speaking with Michael Gruber, managing director in DMC but also half a day personal branding with the Creation Director from Mediamark Communication and half a day of oratory with actor George Ivascu, who “pointed out oratory techniques used in theater.
Downie says participants in such programs can generally be linked to industries such as FMCG, banking, consultancy, telecom and oil, being people who, through the nature of their job, are exposed to public speaking at meetings, product launches, professional and press conferences, interviews and workshops. The program currently costs EUR 600 to follow and is tailored to the needs of those with positions in the top and middle management. Twelve participants are allowed in one session and the program, in a 70 percent ratio, focuses on practical applications rather than theory. But does it pay to pay for such training? Downie says it is rather hard to quantify the benefits of such a program since the return on investments depends on external factors such as the interest shown during the program, the degree of involvement, and whether the trainee chooses to put into practice what he learnt in the following weeks after the program so that the techniques are better rooted in mind. “We do not claim we will turn each of the participants in the program into a small Demosthenes, but we are trying to bring a significant contribution to improving their presentation and oratory skills.”
Otilia Haraga

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