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Speaking Confidence for a Lifetime
July 2008 | by Bertha Leone


Learning at a young age to speak in front of a group can have an impact on children for the rest of their lives. Such is the strong belief of a very talented Del Mar resident with a history of public speaking who has used her skills for the benefit of children.

Melissa Crothers became interested in teaching speaking skills to children when she realized that kids who learn to express what they feel with spoken words are less apt to resort to “acting out”. Having attended Pepperdine University on a full speech/drama scholarship, and with many years of speaking experience with Toastmasters International, Melissa had the foundation to act upon her intuition.

Fearless Speakers™ is a program that develops “speaking confidence for a lifetime”™. For several years, Melissa has conducted after-school kids programs in Solana Beach elementary schools. In Fearless Speakers™, she utilizes an approach that combines that of a drama and sports program. Participants are first shown how public speaking is done, and then are given the opportunity to do it themselves. The results are that the young participants speak without fear, and without even realizing they are being taught.

Through a variety of techniques, including telling a joke, delivering a motivational message, speaking impromptu, or delivering a prepared speech, to name a few, young speakers learn to enjoy speaking in front of a group. Some participants have natural speaking talent and use the program as an opportunity to practice and shine in the delivery of informative speeches or eloquent off-the-cuff presentations. For others, the program provides fun steps to get them started speaking in front of a group. The biggest satisfaction for Melissa is seeing a child get up and speak who previously was brought to tears by the mere thought of it. One of the features of Fearless Speakers™ involves the participants' creating a “giant story”, with each student adding his or her story line. Melissa enjoys telling the tale of one child who spent the entire program time avoiding participation. On the final “parent night”, the student stood up and spoke her ending lines to the “giant story” …. “And the angel fell from the sky!”… to the resounding applause of all her classmates.

A parent, who admitted to having difficulty with public speaking himself, called to enroll his five-year-old twins in the program. Although Melissa will tell you that speaking confidence for a lifetime begins at an early age, Fearless Speakers™ is targeted for fourth, fifth and sixth graders. Several schools in the area will offer this program in the fall. For more information, visit www.fearlessspeakers.net .



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