Communicating With Confidence
PTA leadership provides ample opportunities to improve communication skills. A PTA leader learns to:
- Speak before the organization;
- Write letters, articles, and reports;
- Make public presentations; and
- Respond to the media.
A PTA officer represents his or her unit, council or district PTA, and is also a local representative of the California State PTA and the National PTA.
- Reflect the PTA's official positions.
- Refrain from making statements that would commit oneself or the organization to programs or projects upon which no action has been authorized or taken.
- Build credibility as an individual so that one's comments are of value to the audience.
- When a personal opinion is requested (and it will be), be sure to qualify it as such.
Planning the Remarks
- Announce in the introductory statement what will be discussed.
- Capture the attention of the group before delving into sharing the details.
- Become knowledgeable about the organization -- its structure and purpose -- its positions and projects. Keep abreast of current developments.
- Be comfortable with oneself. If jokes or puns are not one's strong point, do not tell them. Success comes from projecting one's own personality.
- Don't flutter about "butterflies." We all have them; in fact we need them to keep us from becoming complacent.
- Do the homework. Few people can "wing it." The trick is to appear relaxed, and one can be if one is well prepared.
- Be flexible. When necessary, adjust remarks to help meet the need at hand.
- Find out in advance who the audience will be and why they selected one to speak.
- Cultivate effective listening skills. If one is part of a program, listen to what other participants are saying. If the previous speaker "steals your thunder," comment on how one shares similar viewpoints and suggest, "Let's talk about this from another angle." Then continue with one's own remarks.
- Know when to stop. If a standing ovation is desired, sit down.
Why Write Right?