Public Speaking Focus for Athlete Leadership University Workshop

Ten athletes from Austria, Belgium, Croatia, Germany, Gibraltar, Kazakhstan, Malta, Russia and Uzbekistan, their mentors and four youth representatives were invited to take part in an Athlete Leadership University workshop  in Vienna, Austria (June 27-30, 2013).  The seminar was tailored to train athletes and their peers in playing an active part in Government Awareness Program (GAP), a region-wide lobbying campaign Special Olympics has launched in Europe Eurasia.

Athletes learned about public speaking and about our three target audiences (government, media and the general public).  The curriculum included developing goals for a speech, structuring a speech, delivering a speech in front of the camera and receiving individual feedback.  “It was useful to see myself on screen.  It made me realize I was making mimics and I was able to correct them,” said Gleb Diachenko, Special Olympics athlete from Russia. “Yes, and for me to realize I was not speaking loud enough,” added René Tippl, youth leader from Special Olympics Austria.

In total, fourty nine speeches were delivered during the workshop.  The multicultural group included no less than eight different languages, and each athlete delivered his/her speech in their mother tongue, this element allowed to focus observation on body language, tone and non verbal communication. “I loved to speak and getting to know new people and to do activities together.  I am full with positive feelings,” said Melita Golub, Special Olympics speed skater from Croatia.

Participants also learned about grooming and protocol when interacting with high ranking individuals, received tips to control nervousness and other aspects connected to public speaking.  “Thank you for organizing such a seminar for our athletes. It was a great experience for them and, that more important, we will now use the knowledge Sasha gained and involve her in future official events,” said Gulya Saidova, National Director of Special Olympics Uzbekistan.

Training sessions included practicing public speaking as well as picturing themselves performing the best they can.


For more information about the Athlete Leadership University, please contact Nolwen Grassin, Special Olympics, Europe/Eurasia region (

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