So many children grow up in this massive fear of public speaking, they don’t want to get up in front of a crowd because they are scared of speaking in public. In this article I am going to discuss 7 ways you can teach public speaking to kids.
These tips will help make kids more confident and will help them grow in their skills as public speakers and presenters.
Who knows what exactly what kids are scared of when it comes to speaking in public. There are so many different fears about public speaking that it could be almost anything.
However, I believe if we get them practicing (and enjoying) public speaking early and build up their confidence as a public speaker then as they grow in their teenage years and as they go into adulthood then they will be confident in public speaking.
We know that benefits of public speaking are huge. They can help you advance in your career. Help you been seen as a thought leader and help you in so many other ways.
And public speaking is extremely important as we go into adulthoods so it’s a great to teach our kids more about being effective public speakers.
7 Tips For Teaching Public Speaking To Kids
Tip #1: Don’t Call It Public Speaking
Don’t call it public speaking? Why not?
We create this importance around public speaking.We hold it up as such an important moment and important event that we scare the heck out of our children.
So how can we making more fun. Well, why don’t we call it drama, why don’t we call it “giving a monolog” or “playing speeches”?
Make it a game don’t make it an activity that kids are going to get marked on and be frightened of failing at.
We want to make it fun for our children and if we take the emphasis away from public speaking and move it more towards to having fun then kids are less likely to be afraid of it.
If we can minimise fear by changing the name then I believe we should do whatver is necessary.
Tip #2: Less Study, More Practice
When I was in high school we ‘studied speeches’ and it didn’t do me any good. I didn’t learn speaking technique just by studying it in high school. I learned it by incorporating study with lots of practice.
What do you do when you learn about public speaking? You sit down and you watch some of the greatest speeches of all time.
You watch Martin Luther king Jr – “I have a dream”. You watch all these great speeches and then what you do, you go through and you analyze the technique.
Then at the end of the class you have to get up in front of everyone and you have to deliver a speech. This is mayhem to me.
We sit down through multiple classes and study the best, the best speeches in the world. The speeches that changed the entire world. And then we don’t give kids any practice, and we expect them to get up and be confident in front of a crowd.
Then we get them to give their first speech in front of the class and to top it all off we are going to mark them on this one speech. Talk about fear inducing!
So take away some of the study. And put in more practice. Let’s get them out, let’s get them speaking.
Let’s study once they are already confident at speaking, because then they can actually apply technique.
We put way too much focus on technique. I wrote an article on how public speaking rubric (which is a measuring scale that measures technique) is actually hindering our children. The rubric scale often stops our kids becoming confident public speakings and instead makes them so worried about getting something wrong they develop a fear of speaking in public.
So by doing less study and by doing more practice kids are going to get there. They are going to get more confident and more excited.
I found it very helpful to think of public speaking like riding a bike – you need to get out you need to do it in order to get it better.
Tip #3: Break Children Into Smaller Groups
So we get kids to do their study and then get them to get up in front the entire class and give a speech. This is going to create fear in a lot of children.
Break your class into smaller groups or have kids present to just one person. Have them present to these small groups who can give then a positive feedback.
Then they can fail in front of few people rather than fail in front of everyone. By making the groups smaller we get more practice and its less confrontational, so we are more likely not have that fear of public speaking as we are growing up.
Tip #4: Play Fun Impromtu Games
You need to be careful with impromptu games and you need to choose the ones that are fun and people need to be in comfortable situation so that they can have a laugh if they don’t get it right.
So create impromptu games that start off really easy to built confidence. Only get into harder impromptu games as your kids become proficient public speakers.
Impromptu games are great to help kids learn to think on the spot. I believe the fear of public speaking comes because we are scared we won’t know what to do if we make a mistake. We are scared that everything is just going to fall apart.
But by teaching kids to think on the spot then we cans start to get over that fear.
Tip #5: Teach Reason and Message Before Technique
Often we rush into teaching kids public speaking technique (because it is easy to teach). But they haven’t even tried to speak in front of a crowd yet.
Public speaking is like trying to learn how to drive a car. How do you learn?
You go to a car park where there is no cars at all and you just kind of drive around a bit to get use to driving. Then you start indicating, looking in you rear view mirror and then you start doing all these other things as well.
We start slow and we build up the technique as we go.
If you want to be a race car driver then you obviously need to learn a lot more car driving techniques than someone who just drives everyday, just around the place, like I do.
So with public speaking let’s use the same strategy to teach our students.
Let’s get them to practice. Let’s get them to learn how to create a message that is worth listening to. Get them to deliver it and then as they improve then (and only then) we focus on technique.
Don’t let the technique be first, let the message be first.
Tip #6: Give Lots Of Positive Feedback (Lots)
There are so many people in this world that are going to give your kids negative feedback. They are going to give them “constructive criticism” or they may downright insult your children.
But there are not enough people who are building our children up and who are giving them positive feedback.
Yes we are trying to help our children by offering them constructive criticism but often positive feedback works 10 times better.
I find the best way to teach my kids is just to tell them how awesome they are doing and encourage them to keep going. Then they learn naturally!
Public speaking can be learned naturally if you do it over and over again. But if you don’t have somebody encouraging you telling you that are doing a good job then you are unlikely to continue practicing. So positive feedback is massive.
If you absolutely HAVE to give constructive criticism then try this.
Try to sandwich it in 2 positive comments. “You did this awesome, you were so good when you got up and did this. You just might need to tweak this a little bit and look at the crowd a bit more, but your conclusion was awesome, the way that you said blahblahblah. That was amazing.”
So what are we doing is giving a positive feedback, squishing in a little bit of constructive criticism and then ending on positive feedback.
Tip #7: Use Video
Video is about to overtake text as the main way people consume content.
So video is about to overtake text.
My generation and people older than me think that this is not that important but it’s is going to change everything. So if you want your kids to be successful then it’s a good idea to start to teach them how to be comfortable in front of the camera.
It will help them when they are going for a job (more and more interviews are now done over skype). It will help them conduct and be involved in conference calls.
They may even want to upload stuff on YouTube or create training videos and we need to help them be confident doing that.
A video camera is a great way to teach people how to get up in front of a crowd. It is a stepping stone to the stage.
We can then get them at an early age to watch themselves and listen to themselves. And you know how we think: ‘oh gosh I sound so creepy, that is totally not me.’
If we can get them used to listening to themselves, then their confidence is going to grow.
That’s are my 7 tips for teaching public speaking to kids.
Tip #8: (I almost didn’t include this) Don’t Mark Our Kids
I believe we shouldn’t mark kids on technique. That’s something for another post but public speaking is something that improves with time something we get better at over time.
I think we mark technique way too much and we don’t look at the message that the kids are giving. We don’t teach them to think about the message, We don’t teach them to create a message that’s worth listening to.
We focus so heavily on the technique that our kids are getting so scared because we haven’t even taught them what to say yet, let alone how to say it.
By removing the marking system and making public speaking a game and not something we are going to mark you on and test you on kids are more likely to enjoy it and more likely to practice.
Why don’t we just make public speaking something that we do, something that’s fun, not something that’s tested?
Because I think if we make something engaging and we motivate them to do it without a use of a test then they are going to be more confident at it.
There are my tips about teaching public speaking to kids.