School. Sports. Clubs. Chances are, if your child is involved in any of these, he or she talks all day. So why don’t all kids gravitate towards public speaking?
While the career and life benefits of public speaking exposure for children and teens are well documented, it can be a real challenge to get kids interested in making speeches. Very often, kids are hesitant to put themselves “out there” in the form of a public presentation. For parents who may not have a wealth of public speaking experience themselves, this shyness might be hard to argue with.
But, with a few simple tips in mind, you can help your child branch out and grow more comfortable speaking publically.
Here’s a quick guide:
One of the simplest ways to encourage public speaking: follow the “merit badge” approach.
Popular in classrooms around the world, this strategy simply involves rewarding kids for certain behaviors, in this case, making some sort of speech. For very young children, this approach may be particularly effective, especially if your child can choose their “badge” in the form of a sticker, stamp, or other marker.
This approach also encourages children to monitor their own progress. They can watch their public speaking skills improve!
It’s simple: let kids talk about what they care about.
Rather than encourage public speeches about assigned topics, encourage your child to develop a presentation or speech about a subject they are truly interested in. Dinosaurs, baseball, music, or even video games are all appropriate topics for an exercise that is focused on simply improving speaking skills. This natural enthusiasm is a sure-fire way for kids to overcome the speech jitters that often serve as a barrier to public speaking.
In this way, you may be even to encourage the development of equally valuable research and writing skills!
According to the public speaking skills group Toastmasters, one of the most powerful ways to encourage public speaking in children is to just make it fun!
While this approach involves letting kids choose what to talk about (as discussed above), it also means creating a friendly atmosphere for your child to practice in.
If your child struggles with “stage fright,” have them practice first with an audience consisting only of close family members or friends. When demonstrating your own speaking techniques, use lighthearted language and focus on projecting an image of humor.
Combined, these methods of “scene setting” can help eliminate fears and quell worries your child may have about public speaking.
Kathryn Lancioni is the founder of Presenting Perfection, an innovative communication program that helps children, teens, and adults conquer the fear and anxiety associated with public speaking, presenting and everyday communication. Through her cutting-edge workshops and private coaching, she offers customized, targeted training to her students. Whether it is a boardroom discussion, keynote address, job or college interview or classroom presentation, Kathryn helps individuals realize and achieve their true communication potential. All of her programs--Presenting for Kids, TweenSpeech and Presenting for Adults--are designed specifically to meet the needs and challenges relative to their stage in life. For more information, please visit www.presentingperfection.com or call 212-439-6914.