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Teaching the Power of Speech

  • Zan Tyler Editor of the HomeSchool Channel
  • 2002 17 Jan
Teaching the Power of Speech

The greatest ideas and messages in the world can be rendered powerless if we don’t have the ability to articulate them. Home-schooled students have been entrusted with great knowledge. With great privilege comes great responsibility. One of those responsibilities for our students is finding effective ways to transmit their knowledge—their light—to a dark world. The following article is a description of a public speaking and communications course that I developed for my son (then a high school student, now in college). Use it as a springboard for thought.

You do not have to be a professional speaker to teach your children good communication skills. Begin by discussing some of the topics contained in this course description.

Speech, Communication, and Media Relations

Course Description  (1 Credit) 

This course has been multi-dimensional and covered a wide variety of topics and circumstances in the area of speech, communication, and media relations.

Basic Speech:

This included covering selected chapters from the speech text published by Bob Jones University Press.

We also discussed the following items in speech making and delivery: proper planning, proper posture and body language, and proper elocution and delivery.

We discussed and delivered the various types of speeches: informational, critical, and persuasive.

Communication and Media Relations:

We discussed the different aspects and types of communication and how effective communication must be tailored to the audience. We studied and critiqued many television and radio interviews for both style and content. We studied the difference in giving a speech and giving an interview. We also discussed the mechanics of providing interviews, setting up a press conference, speaking at a press conference, and creating newsworthy events and soundbites.


John attended a debate workshop in Atlanta. He learned a great deal, but did not want to participate in the national debate tournament. He was required to watch several different types of debates—candidate debates on a national and statewide level; debates over issues (such as video poker); and debates on television shows such as 20/20, where the reporter/interviewer appears to present both sides of an issue, but has a clear agenda and bias.  

Press Conferences:

We discussed the mechanics (how to set them up, how to insure that the press attends, how to get a good audience, how to communicate effectively during the press conference itself) and importance of press conferences, as well as the varying purposes for instituting them.

John, in his capacity as a state senate page, actually participated in setting up a press conference for Sen. Gregg Ryberg on the issue of video poker. John attended several other press conferences during the legislative session which were issue-oriented in purpose.

John also attended and observed several press conferences during the ’96 and’98 elections that centered around candidates and their platforms.


We discussed and studied the different types of interviews. We discussed the fine art of framing the issues and tactfully dodging having the interviewer put words and views in one’s mouth. We studied how the one being interviewed can drive the interview, rather than being driven in a particular direction by the interviewer.

John did many interviews himself. He did an interview with the State Newspaper about violence in the public schools. He participated in many television interviews on the subject of home schooling, some of which were quite hostile, causing him to employ the techniques we had studied and discussed. He participated in several radio and television interviews dealing with the S.C. Equal Access Legislation allowing home schoolers to  participate in public school sports, since in reality he was the offended party, not I.

His final exam in this area came in Washington, D.C., when he was asked to be one of two guests on a national, one-hour talk show hosted by the Free Congress Foundation. The topic was involvement in the political process.

This article is continued in Part 2.

Zan Tyler is co-author of the book Anyone Can Homeschool and senior education editor for She and her husband have three children and have been home schooling since 1984.