Have a child that needs help with a public speech? Here are some tips to help them give a speech with ease.
We recently attended a convention where my kids participated in a speech competition. They had to give a prepared speech then an impromptu speech on an assigned topic. They did awesome! All of the kids that participated did! It was so much fun to listen to all the different speeches.
Now you maybe thinking that my child is never going to compete in a speech competition so why do they need to learn to give speeches. But at some time in a child’s life they are going to have to stand up and speak in in front of a group of people. School, work, church, athletics, there are hundreds of circumstances where a child could be asked to speak at. Which can be terrifying for a child, but here are some tips to help them give their speech with confidence.
So here are some tips that I use when helping my children with their public speaking.
Become an expert-
No matter what if the topic is assigned or something they get to choose, learning as much as they can about their topic helps a ton in becoming more confident. Have you ever watched a debate or a Q&A session? Did you ever notice that when they get asked a question they they have no idea what the answer is it shows? They start to stammer, talk in circles, become jittery, and just in general panic. But when they know it, they can sell it. They have the poise, confidence, charm, what ever you want to call it. The same is true for kids. If they know it, they are going to be the best at telling other people about it. Even if it is not a topic that they would have picked for themselves.
For example- this year at school my son was assigned a speech on the importance of test in school. Now is this something he would pick? Or even agree with? Nope. But once he had learned what he could about giving test in school, he was able to present a speech in favor of testing in school. Now did he consider this topic to be silly? Yup. Did he learn all he could about testing in schools so he could present it to his class? Yup. And because he had learned so much about his topic, he was able to give a pretty good speech? Yes. Because he knew what he was talking about.
Have your kids practice several times before they are expected to give their speech. That way it’s familiar to them, not something they are seeing for the first time. When my kids have to give a speech, they practice in front of each other, their grandparents, while on horseback, in the car, anywhere we can get it in. That way they are less nervous about know what they are supposed to say when the day comes. And it gets to the point where they are so happy when they actually give their speech, that way they never have to say it again!
Find a way to make it fun-
We have all heard those speeches that could put us to sleep. Dry, monotone, too much detailed information given that it makes it hard to pay attention. I once went to a conference where a person was speaking on Disney and Synergy. Should have been the most exciting, upbeat, interesting speech I have heard right? I mean it’s Disney! Just the word Disney is exciting. But somehow the speaker made it into the most dry and boring speech I had every heard. He had so many hard facts, statistic, and used so many large, unnecessary words that it was everything I could do to stay awake.
So shake it up, find a way to get past the boring charts and graphs and make it something that will make it enjoyable for people. Use a visual aid, a video that they made that makes up part of the speech, a funny story that they can, an outrageous outfit to wear, what ever you can think of to help make it exciting for your child as well as the audience.
While watching a group of children give their speeches one child spoke on vaccinating a cow. Was this the most exciting of topics? Not really. But the way that this child presented it was exciting. It may have been a topic I have heard plenty about but I still enjoyed listing to that speech because it was exciting and fun to watch.
Realize it’s OK to make mistakes-
One thing that can throw anybody off when having to speak in public is making a mistake. I get it, nobody wants to be that person that said the wrong thing, did something screwy, made a weird noise etc. because IT WASN’T PERFECT! So let your kids know that it’s OK to make mistakes. Tell them that most likely they are going to make mistakes. And if they do make a mistake, just keep going. The people listing will either never notice that you made a mistake. And if they do, they will be more impressed that you managed to keep going.
Here is the part I always tell my kids. Unless you managed to set the room on fire, no one is going to notice. And if they do notice, apologize and then just keep going.
(You might even want to have your child mess up on purpose while practicing, that way they realize the world will not stop turning just because they mispronounced a word or lose their place.)
Find an incentive-
One of my kids has no problem standing up in front of hundreds of people and speaking. He loves it. He has been blessed with the gift of gab. For him having a crowd that has to listen to him talk is a reward all of it’s own. His sister, not so much. She would rather everyone go away then pay attention to her. From gymnastics, piano, church, school, she wants to be in the back of the room. I get that, so do I. So for her we use an incentive to help her get over her stage fright. This is usually something small, like a trip to Dairy Queen or some extra T.V. time. It doesn’t have to be big, just something to help them look forward to once the speech is done.
So remember to learn your topic, practice and have fun. Your child may not grow up to be a public speaker but at least they have those skills in case they need them.