So many kids have a fear of public speaking, which can result in children who avoid standing up in front of a crowd or expressing their ideas to their class.
If kids can build confidence when they are young, there is more chance that they will lose their fear of public speaking, growing into confident, expressive adults. Public speaking for kids is one of the most essential skills to master - and it is a talent that will need to use throughout their education and their working life.
Public speaking classes for kids may be postponed for the time being - and there are no opportunities for public speaking in schools for now, but there are still lots of fun and engaging public speaking kids exercises to try during isolation. Lockdown at home is a good moment to take the pressure off your kids and to make public speaking a fun activity. Go back to the basics and create an informal atmosphere at home, because your kids will feel more confident speaking in front of a small group, rather than feeling nervous about presenting something to their whole class. Children quickly learn to lose their fears around public speaking once they have developed the skills they need, so we have found eight ways to improve your children's public speaking skills, as well as some topics to inspire a research project or presentation.
Get Inspired With Ted Talks
Older children and teens may need more encouragement when it comes to public speaking - especially when asked to do a presentation to their family members during isolation. TED Talks are an amazing resource - with thousands and thousands of excellent speeches on almost any topic you can think of. Have your teen search the TED website for topics that they find most interesting, watching several videos - taking notes about what they liked about the speech, and what they didn't. This can be the basis for writing their own presentation - and TED has even put together an inspirational collection of 9 talks by impressive kids, which can be watched here.
What Shall We Talk About?
The best way to inspire kids to give a presentation is to choose a topic that they are really interested in. Children are often able to come up with hundreds of reasons why they should be able to eat chocolate for breakfast, have a 2-hour lunch break or not wear school uniform, because they are interested and passionate about these topics. We have listed some topics that would make a great speech or presentation, but the most important thing is to make sure your child chooses a topic that they are truly interested in.
- Their favourite book, the book that they are currently reading - and how they think it will end - or a book review of the last book they read
- Favourite TV show or film
- Favourite character from a book, cartoon, game or film
- Their lockdown routine - what a school day is like during isolation, which bits are better, and which are worse
- Older children may be interested in more topical news-related topics. Teens might be interested to research how the lockdown has had a positive impact on the environment, or make a presentation about pandemics throughout history
Practice Transitioning With Story Telling Cards
Write the names of people, objects, places and things onto individual cards - one word on each card - then place these cards into a box or bag. Invite your child to pick out 2 cards, and then encourage them to tell a story out loud that connects the two words on their cards. This is a great after-dinner game for the whole family - taking it in turns to pick cards and tell stories. Aim for 1-2 minutes speaking, and as your child get better and better at telling stories using these words, you can make the game more advanced by having them pick 3 or 4-word cards, or speaking for a longer period.
This game helps children to develop the skills to speak in public using only a small 'prompt'. The game also builds their ability to connect two or three random ideas into one, clear and concise story - which is a necessary skill for public speaking. Perfect for any age group, this quick and easy game is a great way to practice speaking in front of a group - whether that's with the family around the dining table, or with friends on a group video chat.
Would I Lie To You?
This is another fun game to practice public speaking for children, which will help build their confidence, whilst also encouraging them to use their imagination, and to speak persuasively.
On individual cards write individual words - anything from events from history, popular phrases or everyday items. Examples include: birthday cake, armchair, the saying 'pinch-punch first of the month', shaking hands to greet someone, the tooth fairy, a police siren...
Once you have lots of cards, place them all into a bag or box. Have your children pick one card each, then get them to give a history of that word, phrase or object. It does not matter whether they are telling the truth or making it up on the spot, as the aim of the game is to develop the skills and confidence to talk fluently in front of an audience, without any plan or preparation.
Using Video To Build Confidence
Communicating by video is becoming more and more important, and it is likely to overtake text. Presenting ideas in video is a skill that will help your child in many situations in the future - at school or in a job role - so have your child video themselves whilst making a speech, so that they become more comfortable in front of the camera.
Speaking well and presenting ideas with confidence are basic public speaking skills - and the extra time at home during isolation could be used to develop skills in these areas. Once your child is happy with their video presentation, watch it through, then do a follow up question-and-answer section so that the child develops the ability to think on their feet, as well as learning to prepare a presentation for the public.
Interview An Expert
This is a fun game that works well for younger and older children - and it can be easily adapted to suit at homeschooling in isolation. On individual pieces of paper or card, write down lots of 'expert' topics - make these as serious or fun as you wish. Place these into a bag or box, and then pick out a topic. Have your child play the interviewer - whilst parents, grandparents or older siblings play the 'expert' - and have them introduce their interviewee with an opening statement: "Today, we are delighted to have the world's only expert in .... " then let them conduct an interview, getting lots of information from their 'expert'.
Younger kids will enjoy interviewing 'experts' on all sorts of fantastic things, like the 'hamburger tasting expert' or the 'slime specialist' - whilst older kids may be more interested to interview their family members on the topics that they are actually an expert in, whatever that may be!
Use Images As A Prompt
This game works well on a video conference with friends and family members - or it can be played around the dinner table. Tear out interesting images from newspapers and magazines, put them in a pile or bag, and have the speaker choose one. Using the image as a prompt, get the speaker to share what they know or think about the image. If the speaker finds this task difficult, use some of these questions to get started:
- Where is this image from?
- What is happening in the image?
- How does this image make you feel?
- What do you think happened before or after the photograph was taken?
For And Against
Older children will enjoy this debating game, where they have to argue for and against a topic. The game will help older children to develop an ability to think on their feet, encouraging flexibility and learning how to argue from both sides - all of which are essential skills in their school classes and beyond. Simply prepare a list of controversial topics, and then challenge your child to speak with confidence for 30 seconds 'for' the motion, and 30 seconds 'against' the motion. Examples of topics to discuss include:
- Cloning animals should be banned
- Money is the root of all evil
- Global warming isn't true