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Public Speaking

by Ronald A. Rowe | December 23rd, 2011 | Elementary, Helpful Hints

Sometimes, you try everything you can think of to inspire or educate your child and it still doesn’t work.  But sometimes — not so often, but sometimes — you stumble on something by accident that really gets the job done.

My ten-year-old son is a fearless public speaker.  He’ll get up in front of a crowd, any crowd, and speak.  Or sing.  Or play his trumpet.  Or pretty much anything you ask him to do.  He’ll hop up on stage with precious little preparation, without the slightest sign of nerves.

So recently I set out to discover why, be it nature or nurture,  Max is so at ease on the stage.  His mother, my lovely wife, is a rambler.  Give her a microphone and she’ll go on well beyond the point she meant to make.  But she’s a tremendous singer who has spent a lot of time on stage.  I speak frequently, but I still get nervous in front of a crowd of more than about 25 or so.  Despite my nerves, I do find myself speaking in front of a crowd fairly often – occupational hazard.

After some reflection, I think I have decoded the accidental formula that led to his fortuitous speaking ability.  I share it here in hopes that it may help others more intentionally develop this trait in their children.

Step One: Do some public speaking of your own.  We all know that children learn a whole lot more from what they see us do than what we tell them to do.  Because I have to speak in front of crowds from time to time, Max sees it as just another part of adult life.

Step Two: Start them early.  Because of our work with youths, my lovely wife and I are often throwing together talent shows or promotional videos or assorted skits.  And we often find ourselves a character short.  So from an early age we’ve been drafting Max into one role or another in front of people.

Step Three: Offer plenty of encouragement.  This applies to just about anything that you want you children to learn.  Positive reinforcement is a huge deal to children.  You are his or her hero.  Your approval means more to a young child than all the accolades and toys and chocolate bars in the world.

Given the small sample size, I can’t offer much in the way of guaranteed results.  But if you follow these few steps you will surely improve your child’s chances of become a confident and skilled public speaker.


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