Public speaking and giving presentations, while often intimidating for children, is an important skill to develop confidence in and master. It’s a form of story-telling, and an effective presenter will both entertain and inform the audience whether the information is personal or business.
Many schools incorporate presentations and talking in front of the class into their curriculum at a young age; here are additional tips parents can use to help children master the art.
Public Speaking & Presentation Tips for Kids
- Practice. While this seems obvious, set up a situation that is fun for them and fits their personality. Have them rehearse and video-chat with relatives. Practice by themselves in front of stuffed animals, family pet or a mirror. Do the presentation in front of a video camera but nobody else and have him or her review and critique it.
- Less memorization. Help create short cuts to mastering their presentation without memorizing the entire thing. It will be more natural and comfortable this way. Create a note card with a short bulleted list of topics to hit or write hints on the back of a poster board presentation just in case they need to jog their memory.
- Improv games. Impromptu and improvisational games are a great way to work on a child’s public speaking technique and ability to think on their feet. Incorporating these into your regular family life will pay off in the long run. Here are some improv games that can be adapted for your family from the stage.
- Sandwich your feedback. Remember your feedback should be 90% positive and 10% negative. Sandwich constructive statements in between lavish praise.
- Mess Up. Have your child practice messing up and recovering. Maybe it’s being prepared with a joke or just working on picking up the pieces and moving on, but if they are prepared for it, it won’t be devastating if it happens during the live event.
- Teach them to involve the audience. Skills like making eye contact, telling jokes, moving around the stage/space, asking a rhetorical question and speeding up and slowing down your pace (for effect) can be ways to keep the audience engaged. This may be harder for young kids to get, but over time they’ll grasp it and understand these skills are important aspects in public speaking.
- Practice even when there is no presentation to give. Public speaking and presentation opportunities don’t always arise often; but there are fun ways to be ready for it when it does. Ask your child to stand up and recount their day or a funny story from school. Have them build confidence with story-telling on a day-to-day basis.
Speaking in front of a group can be a skill your child comes to be proud of, with your help and practice. What other methods have worked for you?