Do you know that Public Speaking is the number one fear that people have?
The thought of speaking in front of an audience can make many of us uncomfortable and can even freak us out!!
In fact there is a fancy medical term to it. It is called Glossophobia, which means, fear of Public Speaking.
Kids too face the same levels of anxiety when asked to speak in public.
Getting them started young is the best way to help them master this art. This is a skill that can be developed and mastered quite easily. Good speaking skills will continue to be an asset in a child’s entire life, be it their graduation, speech, a job interview or presentations made in front of clients/ employers, at the company gathering, and so on.
This is one skill, when learnt, will never let anyone down.
There will always come a point in a child’s life where they will have to speak in front of an audience.
It could be a poem or a story that they need to recite in front of the class, or a presentation or something else. While some children are naturally extroverted and love all eyes on them, others may find it uncomfortable to face an audience.
In this article, we discuss a few points on how to help the child overcome stage fear to deliver a confident speech!
- Encourage your child to know the topic well: Kids are not afraid of what they already know. Help them understand the topic they need to speak. Encourage them to read more about the topic. Allow the child to make his/her own points on what they want to speak. You can always modify or add relevant points later. This will instill confidence in the child, help understand the subject better and as a result, he/she will know what he/she is talking about.
- Practice with them: As the saying goes, “Practice makes perfect”. The more they practice before the big day, the more they get comfortable with their speech and the idea of speaking in front of a crowd. Practicing with them and being present as an audience while the child rehearses, can help them get over the initial anxiety. One helpful tip here is to take turns orating the speech. This way, the child can observe and learn from you on how to deliver a speech. If the kid is comfortable, let him/her set up the animals/dolls/toys he/she has around, and practice the speech. This can be both fun and a good way of looking at an audience.
- Listen to their fears: The entire experience of speaking in front of a crowd may be scary or even terrifying for a child. There could be one or more reasons for your kid feeling this way. By listening to the child’s fears and/or the reasons, you may be able to understand why they feel what they feel. Helping them through it can become easier with constant encouragement and building confidence through positive talks
- Turn Anxiety into Excitement: Let the child talk about the butterflies that he/she feels in the stomach about the speech or the whole experience. Hear them out without interrupting. Once the child communicates the fears/the anxiety, let them know that these are excellent feelings (feelings of excitement). Since anxiety is just an emotion that is in a human brain, it is quite easy to channelize the thoughts towards positivity. So don’t forget to let them know what a great job they are doing.
- Help them Visualize: Visualization is a great way of building a positive mind-set. Ask your child to imagine that he/she is delivering a great speech with confidence. Visualizing the entire sequence of events, from walking onto the stage to getting applauded for her success will make a positive impact on the thoughts and help speak more confidently.
- Teach them the importance of looking at the audience: This one can be quite dicey. Most children end up staring at one or two people in the audience when I ask them to make eye contact. Instead, a useful trick that I have seen that works is to look at the top of the heads of the people sitting in the audience. Or, ask the child to look at the heads of all the people sitting at the back of the room. Looking past the faces will help them keep the focus on their speech.
- It’s OK not to be perfect: This is more important than any of the above points. Children, like adults, fear that they may make mistakes or forget their lines. It is very important for us adults to let the child know that is absolutely fine not be perfect. I usually discuss situations when I messed up my speech or forgot what I was saying in a funny/humorous manner with my daughter. We have a good laugh about it and this, I have seen always makes her feel less stressed about the idea of making mistakes. Similarly, you may want to give them situations from your life when a presentation or an interview didn’t go the way you intended to and it is still ok. Helping them understand that it making mistakes is a part of learning, becomes crucial in building their confidence.
Mastering public speaking allows kids to be effective at communicating their thoughts and information, become more confident and help make stronger social connections as they grow older.
But, none of us can become good public speakers overnight and that includes children. This is an acquired skill that needs to be practiced over and over again.
Let the child know that there is real joy in stepping in front of an audience and sharing their thoughts/ideas with people. Let them have fun while doing it!!
For more tips on Public speaking, visit Jayashree’s blogpost to learn more.
For more tips on how to become an effective public speaker, visit this blog by Drishan Vig
This article gives insights and some of the reasons why people fear Public Speaking. Make sure to check it out!