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.
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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.