Create an Environment for Children to Successfully Practice and Refine Public Speaking
Crofton House School’s Director of the Junior School, Susan Hutchison, shares with us how educators can create an environment for children to successfully practice and refine public speaking skills.
Public speaking strikes fear and apprehension into even the most accomplished adults. What was missing in their formative years? Schools must embrace very intentional opportunities for children to become competent speakers in the presence of an audience. Public speaking is not a talent. It is an acquired skill that develops through a child-centered and age-appropriate approach.
Effective communication is the gateway to a successful adult life. The ability to clearly express our ideas in the public landscape allows us to shape our world. Our spoken words support a personal vision to achieve goals and dreams. A powerful and articulate expression of our viewpoint projects our distinct approach in a complex society. If young people are going to influence the future in positive ways, they must find their voice and fearlessly convey their beliefs, understandings, and thoughts in a manner that will garner respect and attract attention. Educators have a responsibility to equip students with the necessary skills to confidently speak in the public forum.
The following considerations are crucial in the organization of a robust and sustainable public speaking program. Remember that this is all about effective communication through oral presentation. It is more than preparing a memorized speech with a concentration on prescribed delivery skills. Developing a personal delivery style around sharing the message is crucial.
What are the big ideas in a public speaking program?
- Help the child decide what they want the listener to remember
- What is the key message of the speech
- Be certain the ideas of the speech personally resonate
- They should intimately know their topic
- Be certain that speech topics are self-selected
- The child must ‘own’ the content of the remarks
- Help the child appreciate body language as part of the message
- Embrace public speaking as a developmental journey for each child
- Engage the child in self-calming practices (e.g. breathing, visualizing)
How do you set the stage for public speaking?
- Infuse public speaking into everyday practice
- Public speaking is for everyone
- Even the reluctant speaker can find a venue
- Widen the audience as the child progresses
- Confront apprehensions by speaking in different locations
- Teach students how to be a respectful audience
- Allow young children to choose the stage (e.g. sitting, standing)
- Keep the length of the speech age appropriate
- Implement technology to video for self-reflection and peer review
- Use a coaching model
- Value public speaking in the school with a speech day
- Encourage full school participation
- Include the parent community
- Avoid competition
- Provide individualized feedback with tips for growth
To be inhibited and reluctant in the area of public speaking exposes children to life long limitations. It is more important than ever for young people to have the ability to verbally showcase ideas with an elegant self-assurance. School is the ideal arena to practice public speaking skills and discover personal voice and style.
By Susan Hutchison, Director of the Junior School
Friday April, 22, 2016 at 03:43PM
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