“Think. Speak. Impress. That is what we want to teach the members of our club”, Ali Hannan Malik, says the Orators Club chief executive officer.
Malik welcomed a small audience at the first orientation session of the club on Sunday, attended by people seeking to improve their communication skills and rhetoric.
Situated in Defence Block-Y, the club had earlier been holding sessions at various locations, primarily the Aligarh Public School. It has now set up its premises, where public speaking sessions will be held starting from this week.
Participation in the month-long summer camp costs Rs4,500. The summer camp has been divided into 16 sessions depending on the participant’s age and time of availability.
Affaan Khan Sherwani, the director of media and publications at the club, said the club had 10 years of experience in public speaking and debates. He said the club explored a market that remained ‘untapped’. Sherwani himself has represented Pakistan in several international Model United Nations conferences.
“Public speaking is often treated as an extra-curricular activity. Instead, it should be made part of the curriculum,” he said, adding that the club had designed a special curriculum for the summer sessions.
Malik, previously a business development professional, said rather than just improve spoken English, the club hoped to nourish both the communication skills and critical thinking ability to its members.
Besides conducting public speaking and diplomacy sessions at educational institutes including Beaconhouse, the City School and the Lahore School of Economics, the Orators Club has also conducted a few sessions at the Civil Services Academy. Malik said these were more of a learning experience for himself.
The participants at the orientation session were asked to fill in a form assessing their own public speaking skills using nine criteria such a critical thinking, body language, stress control, impromptu speaking and strategy and tactical thinking. They (participants) were also asked to mention which area they would like to improve.
This, according to Malik, was done to understand what areas people wanted to focus on and what their goals were.
“There are lots of things I want to express, but I feel limited in my ability to do so, said Falak Hyat, who attended the orientation. A marketing student at the Lahore School of Economics, Hyat said she wanted to enhance her communication skills. She said besides her academic need to focus on public speaking, she wanted to ensure she could accurately express her thoughts.
Ahmed Azhar, another participant and a recent graduate from a Beaconhouse school, said the benefits of good public speaking were not limited to members of some occupations. He said the art of rhetoric always provided one with an extra edge over others.
Currently only offering sessions in English, the Orators Club hopes to offer similar projects in Urdu, though, not any time soon.
“The idea is not challenging. Providing funds is,” Malik said, adding that currently there was a market only for communication skills in English.
Published in The Express Tribune, July 9th, 2012.