12 ways to help your child get over public speaking phobia

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Addressing an audience publicly can be a terrifying experience for adults, let alone a child. It brings out the nerves and it is often difficult to feel ‘normal’ when on stage. While adults are still able to manage themselves in front of others, public speaking is often a common fear among children. This is why they must be initiated into it early in their lives.  

By doing so, you not only ensure that your child is able to speak publicly with confidence, you also instil a sense of worth and leadership in your child. So when he/she is up on the stage or giving a presentation, they’re not hesitant or have sweaty palms and a racing heartbeat. 

Often times the fear of public speaking can result in signs from slight nervousness to paralysing fear and panic. And no parent wants that for their child. Therefore, a gentle parenting approach is what you must adopt if you want your child to have good public speaking skills. 

Let’s take you through some of the ways in which you can parent your child to be a strong and confident public speaker. 

12 public speaking tips for kids: How to help them become more confident

Standing up in front of a class or address an assembly can often make kids nervous. And that’s normal. Not everybody has to be a public speaker. But this skill is extremely handy when it comes to building confidence and developing strong leadership skill.

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Because at the end of the day, your child might be book smart, but public speaking can also make them street smart! If you’re struggling with the same issues as your child, fret not. We have you covered.

Here are a few public speaking tips for kids that you teach them and raise a confident and well-rounded little personality.   

Know the topic well

The better you understand your subject — and the more you care — the less likely you’ll make a mistake or go off-track.  However, this doesn’t rule out the possibility of getting lost, but the chances of getting on track are easier. So sit your child down and make them understand the importance of this in no uncertain words.

Practice breathing techniques

Teach your kid some breathing techniques that can help them relieve their stress. Ask them to breathe in and breathe out three times and rerun the cycle if they feel anxious. They can practice this technique before getting on the podium or maybe during their speech. 

Improve body posture

Encourage your child to practice confident body language by standing straight and tall. Ask him or her to do so by looking into the mirror while speaking as if they are addressing somebody else. This technique helps children feel confident and eases the process of public speaking. 

Focus on what you are saying

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Make your child understand that the focus of the discussion should be on the topic and not on the audience. You can even ask them to imagine that there was no audience as they were speaking to themselves looking into the mirror, as they did at home. 

Make eye contact with the audience

If you feel your child is confident enough to make eye contact, encourage them to do so. Some children thrive in live interactions and this may actually benefit them. You can tell them that this technique will not only make them feel confident, but also portray a strong image in the mind of the receiver. 

Don’t overthink

It is obvious that your child may lose track of what they were saying and their mind goes blank. It is perfectly okay to take a pause. Encourage them to not overthink. Tell them that sometimes, the audience gets distracted, but they shouldn’t worry about it. Ask your child to not think that the audience is disinterested because of their speech. If it happens, they should pause, breathe and start again. 

Read out loud

Reading out loud is a great way to understand and work on voice modulation, pauses and emphasise points, improve pronunciation, and build confidence. You can introduce different techniques and make it a fun exercise with your child. For instance, ask them to start with a poem and teach them how to enunciate each word. Follow it up with the actual speech and show them how they can enunciate it in public. 

Record your child’s activity

It is a great way to instil confidence in your child’s public speaking capabilities. When they are reading or practising at home, just record it. This will help them understand how they are presenting and areas where they are going wrong or need improvement. 

Practise, practise, practise!

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We all know there is no alternative to hard work. The only way you can tell your child to get better is by making them practise. Encourage your kid to think critically and make them write points in favour of or against an argument. This method will not just hone their creative writing skills but also train them to structure stronger arguments.

Avoid harsh criticism

Your child will always need feedback to get better. However, as a parent, avoid harsh criticism. Harsh words are harmful and demotivating. When kids hear negative messages about themselves, it harms their self-esteem. Instead, share your feedback calmly and explain with examples where you think they can improve.

Take advantage of technology

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You should encourage your child to make better use of technology. Children today have easy access to smartphones and the Internet. Tell them to use their gadgets to prep for their presentations.

Researching ideas online, watching videos, building PowerPoint presentations, and listening to podcasts together are just a handful of ways your kid’s tech-savvy nature can help him/her improve their speaking skills.

Observe other public speakers

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You can sit down with your child and watch the President recite a speech to the nation on TV, or other public figures address the masses or debate shows. Discuss the topic with your child and what the speakers are doing when they talk. Paying attention to their actions can help your child identify which strategies are effective. 

While public speaking may not be the most important life skill right now, it will come handy when your child grows up. Try to be as supportive as you can. Help them with their speeches and practise in order to instil confidence. 

This article was first published in theAsianparent.