"We've all been there -- standing up at the podium, fidgeting our hands, nervously eying our expressionless audience. That's public speaking in short," said RSVP Speech director Vanessa Lin.
"Or at least, that's the stereotype we've given it ... a traumatizing endurance test, an emotional trial to test our ability to talk in front of strangers, classmates, and friends," added the Amador Valley senior.
RSVP Speech, an affiliate of Amador Valley's DECA club, aims to remediate this problem.
The non-profit organization's primary members are elementary and middle school children, as well as high schools students and adults that want to improve their communication in the workplace and even their use of English.
"By starting with our youngest students, we want to give them a head start in practicing their speaking skills," Lin said.
Aside from offering free public speaking lessons at the Pleasanton Public Library, RSVP Speech will be hosting their second annual public speaking contest on March 7, with dinner provided.
Students in the sixth through eighth grades will deliver a three-to-five-minute speech answering the prompt, "What is an event that changed your perspective on life?"
Contestants will deliver their speech in front of a panel of judges in the Amador Valley multipurpose room. Three winners will be selected to receive prizes, and will perform their speeches in front of parents, peers and public officials at the end of the event.
"Our goal for this contest is to motivate students to proudly express their experiences and reflect on them," said Lin. "We hope that our contest will help participants to improve their knowledge of public speaking and garner skills that will carry them through their futures."
Prior to the speaking contest, participants will have the opportunity to receive public speaking coaching from RSVP instructors.
To sign up for the speech contest or for more information about RSVP classes, visit the organization's website.
RSVP classes are offered Monday-Friday from 4-5:30 p.m.
"We hope that, through our efforts, the youngest generation of our community will one day find themselves confident and resourceful speakers. One day, they will not be scared to scale the stairs to a stage or be at a loss of words in front of a live audience," Lin said. "Instead, they will embrace the world and be a voice, not an echo."