Public Speaking – A Valuable Skill

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The words ‘public speaking’ are often enough to cause terror in most adults, and quite often this stems from taking a dislike to the activity at school, or through negative experiences. There are plenty of reasons for not enjoying standing up in front of people and making a speech or reading from a text, from lack of confidence to self-consciousness, and fear of making mistakes to fear of being judged by peers.

It is, however, a skill that all young people should attempt to master as it’s useful both at school and in the workplace, and a firm grounding in public speaking can give confidence a general boost, along with improving listening, information gathering and writing skills. Children of all ages can benefit from this important skill, and the earlier they start learning the more prepared they’ll be for utilising it in the future.

So how can public speaking be improved? Here are a few tips on putting together a good presentation.

Listen to other speakers
One of the best way to improve public speaking is to watch the experts. Nowadays it’s easy to find speeches given about most topics, whether that be online videos or audio clips. Explore what makes a good public speaker and try to help your child work on these areas (timing/pacing, eye contact, etc).

Careful preparation
The first step in delivering a speech with confidence is to know the subject material in detail. It’s no good trying to speak on a subject that you know little about, and so it’s a good idea to encourage your child to use all available resources to gather all of the relevant information they need, and work on putting together an interesting speech that will capture the attention of the listener.

Choose topics of personal interest if possible
It’s always easier to talk about something you’re interested in, so if they’re allowed to pick the topic, encourage them choose one they already know about. If they’ve been set a topic by their teacher, help them to find an angle that appeals to them.

Practise Practise Practise
The best speeches are at least mostly done from memory, and so it’s important that your child practises as much as they can, both alone and in front of an audience. If the speech is more of a presentation with slides, it’s just as essential that they make sure they know the content off by heart, because being familiar with the material is the most effective way to deliver a confident, relevant speech.

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