by The Kidz Parade

Whether your child is in primary school or secondary school, whether in local school or international school, one thing is certain: they will be called upon to do presentations in front of others. Effective public speaking is a crucial skill that is often overlooked in the formative years of a child. However, this is a skill that can influence the self-awareness of a child.

Many parents are concerned that their kids are losing out opportunities at school, in internships, university admission interviews, job interviews and many other important junctions in their lives because the kids are not able to convey the messages effectively. So, parents are taking initiatives to impart this important skill to their children.

If you are interested in developing public speaking skill in your child, it is important for you to understand the myths around it. Knowing the right areas to focus on will help you in preparing your child to take on many challenges in their lives.

1. “That child is a good communicator because he/she talks a lot”.

Nothing can be farther from the truth. Talking a lot doesn’t mean effective communication.

Unlike popular belief, extroverts have no advantage over introverts when it comes to speaking. Like the way you learned to read and write, effective speaking means you acquire the skill set and practice it.

2. “My child is a horrible communicator. He/She doesn’t talk much”.

The first rule of public speaking is that ‘lot’ does not mean ‘effective’. In this knowledge economy, people do not have the time and patience to listen and understand. Our busy lives have significantly reduced our attention spans. As a whole, we listen less than we used to. So, if your child is able to speak effectively and concisely within a short time, he/she is a winner. The important words here are ‘effective’, ‘effective’ and ‘effective’.

3. “Let them focus on academics now. Communication comes later”.

It is true that your child can pick up communication skills at any stage in his/her life. Communication is a life skill that requires regular practice. However, when you procrastinate it, your child is losing out on many opportunities in life. Your child is losing the window of opportunity to make it a second nature. Lack of ability to communicate effectively invariably affects the confidence of the child. Imagine the boost in confidence and the increase in opportunities your child would get when he/she could convey their ideas better and persuade and inspire others.

4. “Public speaking is all about Speaking”.

There are many school and social situations where kids need to present and speak. The audience response to a speech depends on many things other than speaking. This includes delivery, body language, eye contact, the way the speech was crafted, engagement with the audience, confident demeanor and managing the fear among others.

5. “Public speaking is only for a few people who are gifted in it”.

Surveys show that public speaking is the No. 1 fear among a vast majority of people. The truth is, even the greatest orators became great only with practice. Give your child the opportunities to cultivate and practice the skill so that your child could also express his/her ideas to be successful in the field they choose to pursue.

6. “People will notice my child when he/she works hard”.

Competency is not to be underestimated and it can never be replaced. However, people do not have the time to go around and unearth talented people. Speaking is a great way to make your kids communicate the talents and ideas they have.

After 13 year old Evelyn (name changed for this article) brushed up her public speaking skills, she changed from a timid child to a school counsellor. Her parents say the progress she achieved, after her teachers and peers started noticing her, was something they could only dream about earlier. According to them, the boost in confidence from her public speaking skills reflected in her academic skills as well. She got promoted from standard stream to express stream at school and got a scholarship.

7. “Show n Tell = Public Speaking”.

Many kids learn and do ‘Show n tell’. At a very young age, show n tell helps kids to build up the confidence to stand up and say a few sentences about a ‘prop’ in front of a small audience. However, public speaking skill goes much beyond gathering that initial confidence. Public speaking involves many strategies and frameworks that your child will be able to use to speak without the help of a ‘prop’.

8. “My child does not want to be a public speaker. She/He has other plans about the future”.

The truth is, we all speak in public. Public speaking is much more standing in front of 200 people. Public speaking happens when you go to that shop and tries to struck up a conversation with the salesman. It happens when you speak to the officer at the airline terminal hoping for an upgrade. It happens when you speak about your ideas for the group project, a family vacation or when you go for an intern interview. Isn’t it useful if you know how to effectively handle these situations?

9. “My child is a great public speaker because he/she has already attended a public speaking class”.

Public speaking is a life skill. Like in the case of other life skill, the best way to master it is to practice. If your child has attended a public speaking class where they have picked up strategies and frameworks and they know how to use that it is great. Find opportunities for them to practice the skills. It could be a family function, an opportunity at school or a community event. Does the coach provide any ongoing practice opportunities that will enable your child to practice the skills until it become their second nature?

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