Effective speaking competition for Saanich Peninsula cadets

Local cadets improve speaking through weeks of training and practice.

Sergeant Steven Noble

Sergeant Steven Noble

For the fourth year, the 676 Kittyhawk Air Cadet Squadron will host a local effective speaking competition tomorrow (Jan. 26).

They will present a five minute prepared speech along with a two minute speech on a topic of the judges’ choice.

The effective speaking program is put on by the Air Cadet League of Canada, run by volunteer civilian instructors. Deborah Cracknell is one of those who have stepped up to help with the program.

“The cadets can sign up of their own free will. It’s just one of the many amazing things that the Air Cadet League of Canada offers its cadets,” she said.

Cracknell’s son started five years ago with the cadets and has taken a lot of other programs as well.

“I was just flabbergasted by what was offered to the kids for helping them succeed in life, giving them the tools they need. It’s just fantastic programming,” said Cracknell.

In this particular program, she said, the kids sign up if they want to do effective speaking, and it culminates into a competition, which is optional.

“They choose to compete, otherwise they come to the sessions and we do body language, how to speak in front of a group, how to project your voice, how to write a speech, and so … the program is really centred on how to communicate effectively.

“It’s not all about getting up in front of a crowd and being a Toastmaster for example, but it might be for somebody who wants to go into journalism …” she said.

One of their competitors this year has come back again, while it’s the other individuals’ first time.

“We usually have about eight or 10 participants in the program …”

This year there are six who have signed up and come to the sessions, with three of them entering the competition.

“I have seen some of these cadets come in at the start of a year and they’re maybe not focussed, they’re shy, they’re not comfortable getting up in front (of people), and by the end, they just impress the heck out of me.”

She said each speaker is given  a random topic on which to talk for two minutes — with little to no preparation.

“So that is very good, thinking on their feet. They usually throw in some humour (and) we give each other feedback on how their speech went,” she said, adding that they not only hear from her but their peers too.

One of this year’s judges is Mark Blandford, the clinical director of operations at the Victoria General Hospital.

“He was also a naval cadet himself so he’s very keen to help our young cadets,” said Cracknell.

Their second judge is a retired police officer and previous Warrant Officer in the Air Cadets: Rick Anthony. And then there’s Ed Bain from the Q radio station and CHEK News.

The local effective speaking competition taken place on Jan. 26 at the 676 Kittyhawk Air Cadet Squadron Hall at 1979 deHavilland Way in Sidney. It will begin at 6:30 p.m. and is open to the public.

For information on joining the Air Cadets, call 250-656-4423 or visit the website at 676kittyhawk.com.