“Public speaking invokes more fear than the fear of death, “ or so the research says. It also says that children who speak on public platforms, possess more critical and analytical thinking skills and generally acquire more success in life.
Makes sense, since communication and the art of persuasion are both soft skills that are essential to the making or breaking of any relationship, personal or professional.
The ability to speak is not enough, it’s speaking well that matters. I have not only experienced this personally, but seen it intimately in the students I have taught, right from primary to high school. No matter the age, children who are prompted to talk their mind in public, are generally more confident, more self-aware and are clearly set apart from the majority of kids who do not partake in this activity. Effective communication is integral to people skills and public speaking actually helps in developing not only IQ but EQ!
Sadly, most public speaking forums are arranged by schools, and even if they do arrange such events, precious few kids are given the opportunity to present speeches, declamations or to participate in debates. Here are a few ways on how to develop these skills in your child in the confines of your home:
1.Family Speaking Time: Arrange little 10 minutes slots once or twice a week where everyone in the family is required to speak about any/ specific topic for 2 minutes. Brain storm topics well in advance and give ample choice. Keep on adding diversified genres. For younger children ‘would you rather’ or ‘what if’ prompts really bring on the fun. Here are a few to start it of… Improving Conversational Skills.
The older the children, the more challenging the topics can be, even controversial.
Here is a link to get you started… Impromptu Public Speaking Topics. A Pinterest page that is dedicated to public speaking topics: https://www.pinterest.com/explore/conversation-topics/
Encourage brainstorming and research. Encourage respect and tolerance. Establish some ground rules.
2.If you can do Birthday Parties then… you can definitely hold debates and speech competitions with all your mom friends and get the kids competing in these activities. Or just integrate speeches or debates along side musical chairs and passing the pillow.
Here are just a few fun ideas:
3.Guide lines: Believe it or not, there is good science out there that provides tactics for improving your chances at succeeding at public speaking events. Where ever the event maybe, these are the overall insider tips of the trade:
- walking with chin slightly up and with a confident stride
- giving a subtle smile and a warm introduction
- appealing to the emotions of the crowd; knowing your audience (otherwise known as ethos)
- using a funny anecdote or something personal to establish a connection, giving your credentials (building credibility otherwise known as pathos)
- talking about content specific to the topic
- content that has some credible backing (studies, surveys etc also knows as logos)
- using humour, quotes, verses from poems, rhyming words, irony, puns, strategic repetition of words, allusions that your audience will ‘get’
- using an appropriate tone and volume (slightly elevated and passionate for debates but more natural and smooth flowing for speeches and declamations)
- appropriate gestures (no flailing your arms around or dancing please)
- keeping it short and sweet
- keeping it civil
- practice, practice, practice
It is my firm belief that all children can improve their public speaking skills no matter how shy they may be, and since regretfully, schools don’t do much for introverts in this regard, perhaps you as parents can help your kid come up to his or her fullest potential by developing these critical 21st century skills.
Here is a supplication to read to help:
I’d love some feedback and other experiences of teachers and parents alike on other ways we can build up this skill in kids.