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Public Speaking

by Teresa, The CuteKid™ Staff


 

Many adults have public speaking fear because they never overcame the fear as a child. But learning how to speak in front of others is a skill that can be developed. It doesn’t guarantee that you will never feel any fear, especially when speaking in front of a large group, but it will help ensure that you will be able to conquer your fear and address the audience comfortably.

Start teaching public speaking for you children by having them speak to you. This doesn’t mean the usual sit-down conversation; instead you sit and have your child stand. She could recite a poem, sing a song, or just spend a few minutes telling you about her day. Then gradually invite other people to listen to your child. Have him recite something for his grandparents or when you have friends over invite him in to tell about a recent sporting event or school activity.

Have your child help write what they are going to say. If they have ownership over the words it will be easier for them to perform. It will also help ensure that the words are at their level. It is easy to tell when an adult has written what a child is saying because it is at a higher level. It is also apparent that the child is not comfortable with what they are saying, because it is too difficult for them.

As an important step for teaching public speaking for children, encourage them to look up and speak with confidence. Good public speakers do not have their face buried in their notes. But looking at the audience when you speak can be scary. So tell your child to look at a spot on the back wall instead of the people if they need to.

Before your child speaks in public you should have them practice before a mirror until they feel comfortable. Winston Churchill who was known as a great public speaker used to practice speaking in front of the mirror for hours. He would even insert when he was going to pause to take a drink. Practicing ensures that your child is familiar with what they are going to say. They will know all of the words and not be as scared that they will make a mistake.

If your child has problems with inserting filler words such as “like,” “um,” or “uh,” then tape your child speaking and have them listen to themselves. My husband pointed out to me the other day that when I leave messages on answering machines I say “um” a lot. I was unaware of this habit. Luckily that is the only time I do it, and not when I’m speaking in public. Since I am aware of it I can work to stop using “um.”

In order to overcome public speaking fear from children, remind your child before he speaks that no one is going to laugh at him unless he says something funny. Everyone in the audience wants him to succeed. Tell her it is okay to be nervous because those feelings just mean that our mind and body are getting ready to perform. For most children, if they are prepared, the nervousness will go away once they start speaking.

Recently my six-year-old son was asked to give a talk in our church’s children’s program. He had to stand up and spend about three minutes addressing a group of about forty children on a particular topic.

We sat down together to write out what he was going to say. I gave him some details about the topic and then began to write. He read over my shoulder and immediately stopped me saying, “Mom, that’s not what I want to say.” So I started over with him telling me what to write. The only problem was that he tends to ramble. So I wrote something similar to what he said but not exactly. This did not make him happy. Finally we compromised. He would tell me what to write and I could suggest something different if I felt it didn’t make sense.

At the time I was frustrated with my son, but looking back I am proud. He was confident in himself and what he wanted to say. After all as he reminded me numerous times it was his talk.

When the time came for him to address his peers he got up with confidence. He was familiar with his talk, having written it himself. He spoke loudly and clearly. He was completely sure of himself.

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