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Mastering the art of public speaking with Felix Zinhara

02 Jun 2019 at 20:08hrs | Views
Standing in front of people and delivering a speech, keynote address be it at a social gathering or professional setting remains equally "life-threatening" even to those folks who claim some audacity in general conversations. Many people do really want to have the exceptional capacity found among a few in swaying audiences but may not have the know-how on the basics. Fortunately, as a passionate follower on the art of public speaking I caught up with one seasoned Professional Speaker in Harare and I'm convinced those who aspire to sharpen their skills may want to engage him. His name is Felix Zinhara, the founder and Dean of Public Speaking at Business Times which is a private company that has been training Public Speaking skills to school children and corporate executives almost a decade ago, that is, since 2010. To the young mainly school going children, Felix Zinhara is known as a Toastmaster of the highest order.

Mr Zinhara is also an award winning Professional Speaker, Life Coach and Author. More notable is that Mr Zinhara mentors students beyond Zimbabwe's borders, specifically at Ashesi University of Ghana which is part of his "Cape to Cairo Vision" in imparting public speaking skills. It is a truism as Frederick Douglas puts it, "it is better to build strong children than to repair broken men." Imparting speaking skills to the young is Felix Zinhara's everyday life as he believes in "catching them young." Public speaking skills fall under "soft skills" that are essential for this competitive society in all spheres of life.
To aspiring models as a career path, soft skills are indispensable such that Mr Zinhara has played his part in making this life-line easier. The Business Times has a Public Speaking module For A Beauty Pageant. The main intent being to effectively guide participants on how to handle difficult questions gracefully and position oneself in the limelight. The module takes one through "5 Laws of Public Speaking" from which the laws of the audience, podium, clock, purpose and magnetism are well captured. More importantly, "Secrets to Handling Pageant Questions" are articulated.

I also had the privilege to go through Mr Zinhara's Public Speaking Module. The Public Speaking Module covers nine topics, namely, confidence building; how to craft and present a speech; how to make your meaning clear;  body language and stage presence; using your tone and vocals; informing your audience on video; being a  host on video; being a guest on video and finally the Headboy's/Headgirl's Keynote address. The module is a practical guide since learning by doing embodies its contents with practical questions that readers need to follow. As such, the author of the module emphasized much on 3Ps, that is, Practice! Practice! Practice! (p.1). I found the module useful to not only those who have passion for public speaking under school settings at club level but even the English Language curricular as debates/discussions are stimulated immensely especially when using the module as a manual guide complementing other texts. Hence, facilitators in English language definitely need a copy of this rich Public Speaking module prepared by Mr Zinhara.

ICT and Public Speaking
Information Communication Technology in the 21st century plays an integral role in making Public Speaking very stimulating and worth pursuing. The Television is used by Mr Zinhara as an important medium from which speakers may find themselves in thereby demanding interview contexts to be handled well. Projects 6-8 in the Public Speaking module offer interesting practical dimensions where students get to prepare, rehearse and deliver speeches on camera. To the young who now use the camera for poetry or any other activities with the agenda to reach the public, conversing one-self with ICT tools becomes key.

The high school Judge
The story of Felix Zinhara is that of one men who has a bigger dream with a foundation that can be traced from his high school engagements in assisting, mentoring the young to greater heights. In recent times, many acclaimed Public speakers have been "popular" on social media in search of Like buttons. Mr Zinhara shared with me a different story altogether showing that he is a hands on Public Speaking guru having worked with a lot of schools including Lomagundi, Gateway, Dominican Convent among many. Above that, Mr Zinhara serves as a Judge for Junior Achievement Zimbabwe and a Speech Judge in Inter Schools and International Public Speaking contests.

Cape to Cairo vision
Although the phrase "Cape to Cairo dream" is generally been perceived as evoking the colonialist Cecil John Rhodes on colonial conquest in Africa to history lovers, Mr Zinhara on the contrary offers a different narrative. Mr Zinhara's vision can be located in his launch of the Public Speaking and Leadership programme, Game Changers Club at Mount Pleasant High school in early 2019. This augurs well with the Business Times theme, "changing the world, one speech at a time." This suggests that other schools in Zimbabwe with students and teachers who are "Seriously Serious" so to borrow from Blessing Mandipira's diction on Public Speaking have to connect with Mr Zinhara to make their aspirations a reality.

Inmates and Public Speaking skills
Prisons have generally been spaces where preachers, the clergy or the religious communities visit to teach, preach and find converts. Mr Zinhara has not been left out in this direction as he also successfully trained inmates at Harare Central Prison in 2018 as well as other institutions. This fulfills the correctional appeal of the prison and such efforts from Mr Zinhara are commendable.

However, some minor spelling flaws are found within the Public Speaking module, for instance instead of rehearse it is written regearse (p.22). Out of interest, Mr Zinhara's Public Speaking Module may also need to detail some information about his educational background and achievements. This, however, does not suggest that his contributions are dismissed but rather beneficial to his future works and engagements with the public. Above all, Mr Zinhara's Public Speaking so far appears to have been limited to certain schools in terms of outreach whilst others are not even aware of his activities. Having a bigger coverage when visiting schools adds more value to his works by for instance having national visits rather than to be "Harare-centered." Business Times is physically located at 3 Meadow Bank Close in Mount Pleasant, Harare-Zimbabwe.

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Source - Brian Maregedze
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