Category: Cooperative Extension
5 Ways Youth can Become Comfortable Speaking in Front of an Audience
March 02, 2023 Written by Jill Jackson, 4-H Youth Development Agent
How many of us can say we have always enjoyed speaking in front of an audience? Yes, some people have no fear and can stand up and speak off the cuff, but many prefer writing out their thoughts and practicing how they want to present a speech.
Delaware 4-H takes pride in offering programs that help youth become very comfortable speaking in front of an audience. Whether participating in communications contests like Public Speaking and Demonstrations, speaking to a judge at Favorite Foods or talking to their club about an upcoming event, there are a variety of ways 4-H members can practice speaking to others!
1) Find a topic that your child is passionate about.
This will help your child be excited to tell others about it. They already have a background and understanding of the topic, making it easier to gather their thoughts and write a speech.
2) Practice, Practice, Practice!
Encourage your child to practice their speech as much as possible. This could be by themselves in front of a mirror or speaking in front of a small group of family and friends. Some people even record themselves and play it back to see what they can improve. If your child is comfortable with it, offer some constructive feedback on how they can improve (slow down, breathe, smile, etc.)
3) Present with Notes, Not a Script
Your child can write their thoughts out on paper and include a catchy opening, full body and closing statement. Once they feel comfortable with what they have written and practiced, encourage them to outline the main points of their speech. The child will use these points as a guide while speaking. These bullet points can be transferred to notecards to use during the actual speech.
4) Nerves…Everyone gets them!
Ensure your child that everyone gets nervous, even those with lots of experience speaking in front of others. Remind the child to take a few deep breaths before beginning their speech. Maybe even say an encouraging statement to themselves, such as "You got this!"
It's ok to pause during their speech and take a breath to reset and keep going.
5) Show Excitement in the Topic
Ask your child, "When you are listening to a speaker, think about what will keep your attention?" It could be the speaker's excitement about the topic, voice inflections, eye contact, smiles, audience engagement and more. Encourage your child to show how excited they are to tell others about this topic.
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