Since launching in 2015, Synergy Speakers’ Corner has given Lakeland students the opportunity to come together and work on their public speaking and leadership skills.
These are essential competencies that go a long way towards ensuring students graduate from Lakeland ready to succeed in the workplace, no matter which industry they join.
“Public speaking skills are absolutely critical,” says Ben Acquaye, the business department chair who facilitates the sessions. “Warren Buffet says having public speaking skills increases your value by 50 per cent. The goal of Synergy Speakers’ Corner is to equip students with good public speaking and leadership skills, both of which members of our faculty and our business partners informed us was very important for students to have.”
Synergy Speakers’ Corner provides students the opportunity to sharpen their skills at bi-weekly events over lunch, presenting timed speeches. Students who complete five out of seven public speaking projects, ranging from leading conversations to sharing jokes and telling stories, are presented with the Competent Communicator 1 award to mark their achievement.
“It’s an incredibly helpful program,” Acquaye explains. “Students become more confident in themselves and develop leadership skills, both of which help them when they go on job interviews. It also means they can excel when given leadership opportunities on the job.”
Joshua Langill, Class of 2020, was among more than 100 students who participated in the program last year. He says he uses the skills he refined during Synergy Speakers’ Corner every day in his new leadership role as administrator for the Town of Maidstone.
“Lakeland prepared me so well for this opportunity,” he says. “Ben Acquaye puts so much work into Synergy Speakers’ Corner. He thought it was important for me to take part in it, and I trusted him. He was absolutely right. Because of Synergy Speakers’ Corner, I am confident having a conversation with anybody about anything, from people in the government to people in the community. It all comes down to confidence.”
This year, organizers decided to look at the new health and safety COVID-19 protocols on campus as an opportunity to make the sessions more accessible to all Lakeland students, regardless of where they study. For the first time, students can join in remotely as well as in person.
Not only do students have the opportunity to work on their essential public speaking skills at the sessions, they are also given lunch, thanks to Synergy Credit Union.
“Because of Synergy Credit Union’s support, we’ve been able to create the resources we need to enhance and promote the program. In addition, we’re also able to provide lunch to those students who attend in person,” Acquaye says. “I know that some students struggle with lunches and accessing additional support, and it’s fantastic that we can offer resources to help with that thanks to Synergy Credit Union. We are so grateful for their support.”
Each year, students work with Erin Bandola, business instructor, and other organizers to help run Synergy Speakers’ Corner, helping to set up and lead the events. Acquaye is still looking for student volunteers to take advantage of that leadership opportunity.
“At Lakeland College, we say we’re putting students in the lead,” he says. “Synergy Speakers’ Corner is here to help students develop and sharpen the skills they need to lead. The feedback we receive from students confirms that Synergy Speakers’ Corner is preparing them well for their future, and we are so pleased that we can do so thanks to Synergy Credit Unions’ generous support.”