Speaking about what's on your mind, is the simplest, most natural, and effective way of expressing ourselves. It comes naturally to most of us, but 'public speaking' is an acquired skill. We speak in order to communicate with each other, with the intention of exchanging ideas, opinions, and feelings. But, for some individuals, uttering even a simple request such as "Could you please direct me to the post office?", could prove to be a source of anxiety. For such people, speaking in front of a group of people could be quite difficult. While communicating with others, how confident the speaker is, matters very much. The same holds true for your kid.
Though kids are fearless and brave, they might need some tips and lots of support from you, when it comes to public speaking. You might want to start with a few activities that will develop their speech. These activities will give your child a fair idea about it and some practical experience, too.
Break the Ice
If your child is shy about speaking out or sharing his ideas, then this is a good exercise for him. Go to a place with an uninterrupted view of the horizon. Ask your child what he thinks about the point, where the sky seems to be touching the earth. Listen carefully to what he says. Let his answer develop into a discussion. If you live in a city and it is difficult to find such a spot, or you're very busy and have no time to go outdoors, then consider the next exercise. Ask your child, if he can pick up water with his fingers. When he says no, take some water and put some color in it. Freeze this colored water. After some time, when it has turned into a colored ice cube, ask him to pick it up. This will provoke a discussion about the different states of water. You could conduct many more interesting experiments that will fire up your child's imagination and encourage questions, arguments, discussions, and conversations. It is well-known that one has to struggle very hard at the beginning. A satellite-carrying rocket struggles, till it reaches escape velocity. One has to overcome inertia before things starts moving. So, keep at it and don't give up.
This can begin right at home. Ask your child to spend some time observing the family members, including you. The way they move, act, talk, and express themselves. Help him in comparing the behavior of different personalities. Your kid will come to know that behavior differs from individual to individual. The time is ripe to find out why he does not open up and share his thoughts; what is holding him back from expressing himself. Observing people will help him get an idea of how to behave and talk in a group of people. It will also reassure him that other people will accept his behavior as normal.
Subject of the Speech
Help your kid write a speech. Pick an interesting topic or just go with the one that has to be dealt with. Discuss the subject with him. Explore it, in general. If you are taking notes for him, instead of putting your own views in the speech, prefer to jot down his ideas. Pay attention to and give preference to his use of words, sentence structure, if it is logical and suitable. Encourage him to take the lead in the discussion. Draw him out. Lend him an ear and listen to him speak. The battle is half won.
This is an exercise that your kid can do on his own, if he wants to. He will be the speaker, as well as the judge. It may take a while and few repeats to go through this test and master it. After all, during this test, he or she will have to tackle the most critical judge and audience. Guess who?
Tape Recorder Test
The most infuriating characteristic of the spoken word is that it vanishes without leaving a trace. If you need to know what you said or how you sounded to the world, there is no way of finding out. But, preparation for public speaking gives you the chance to record your words and listen to them over and over, till you have perfected what you should say and how you should say it. Let your kid record his speech with the help of a tape recorder. Afterward, press the play button to listen to the speech. If there are mistakes, explain them to your child, so that they can be corrected. This exercise will help him realize what he sounds like. If sounds such as 'er' or 'um' are ruining the presentation, teach him how to control and cut down their usage.
The mirror never lies or judges. But, it reflects and reveals. This exercise will work better, if your kid does it on his own. Having surpassed the self-test and the tape recorder, your child is now ready to face the mirror. All he has to do is give his speech, in front of the mirror. During this test, he will be able to perform as well as observe what kind of performance he is giving. The mirror will reveal how the presentation will go down with the real spectators. Mannerisms and habits to control or get rid of, would be exposed.
The next step would be to perform in front of the family. Now is the time to judge, how good he is. Is the performance up to the mark? If not, no problem. Try again. This way the kid will be able to find his mistakes without having to pay for it in terms of taunts or jeers from a harsh audience. Public opinion is a hard nut that very few can crack, eat, and digest. If the performance is good, then appreciate your kid's public speaking skills with a "Wow" and "Well done!"
At this stage, your kid would have achieved what you set out to do. The goal was to make him feel confident. Now, your child knows he can do it. This knowledge is the key to his success. It is said that "If you feel confident, you will act confident". But, where does this confidence to make a speech come from? It comes with practice and patience, work on the mistakes and problem areas, till they are completely gone. Ask your kid, if he feels confident about giving the talk. If he says yes, then believe him, he can do it!
Everyone is a member of society. We need to interact with others, even while performing simple tasks. Speaking is a simple way of communicating your thoughts to a large number of people and if done right, can make things go your way.