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Tips to improve your child’s public speaking

Tips to improve your child’s public speaking

Public speaking is something that many of us struggle with from a young age. Whether you stutter, go bright red or your hands shake, it can be a truly unpleasant experience.

 

However, at some stage we all have to do some form of public speaking. There’s just no avoiding it. It might be in class in an English speaking assessment or much later on in life at work, or making a speech at a wedding.

The importance of oracy – the ability to speak well – is now gaining momentum in mainstream schools. We now understand that oracy plays an important part in social equality, helping young people get jobs and also in their general well-being. It is recognised that the need for young people to express themselves and to communicate their thoughts and feelings verbally is increasingly important in today’s society. So how can we help young people improve their public speaking? Here are a few tips:

Talking supports thinking

In the past at school we were often encouraged to work in silence to help us concentrate. However, when it comes to learning and discovering new material it’s often great to talk about it. Equally, when revising, some students will talk outloud to themselves, or to members of their family to help them memorise key facts. Talking helps you think through ideas and problems and ultimately supports learning. So, try talking through your child’s work with them, allow them to explore their ideas and come to their own conclusions. You can also help them consolidate their thoughts by encouraging them to use sentence stems such as:

“To be clear, you’re saying that…”

“My whole point in one sentence is…”

“Yes, and furthermore…”

Use guidelines to help form articulate discussions

Once your child feels comfortable talking about a topic you can help them articulate their ideas better. Using a framework for discussion helps make the act of public speaking easier because we know we’re following a structure. We feel that we are in a safe space to share our thoughts without being judged. Having guidelines can help everyone feel confident and prepared to take part in a public discussion or meeting. Try agreeing on a few basic rules to get going such as:

  • Always be respectful of other people’s ideas
  • Try to build on each other’s ideas to create discussion
  • Keep an open mind
  • Encourage contribution by asking others to ask a question
  • Make it clear to the others around you that you are listening to what they have to say

Take on roles

For those children who struggle with public speaking due to shyness. A great way to help them settle into the idea of talking in front of others is to ask them to take on a role. You can also use sentence stems to get them going in their character. Here are some examples:

Instigator:

  • “What do you think…”
  • “The first thing we need to do is…”
  • “How can we….”

Builder:

  • “I would like to add…”
  • “That was a good idea, but what about…”

Challenger:

  • “How about…”
  • “If that is true, what about…”
  • “Are you certain…”

Clarifier:

  • “What do you mean…”
  • “Can you give us an example…”
  • “Can you explain a little more…”

These are just a few basic ideas that can help young people feel more confident in their public speaking. It’s time that all students felt able to express themselves freely and articulately throughout their schooling and into adulthood. The idea of teaching children the mechanics of “how to talk” again is one that has been overlooked for a long time but, hopefully, as more schools take oracy seriously, this will change.

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