The Art of Public Speaking and the Homeschooled Child

According to most studies, people’s number one fear is public speaking. Number two is death. Death is number two. Does that sound right? This means to the average person, if you go to a funeral, you’re better off in the casket than doing the eulogy.

—Jerry Seinfeld

It is true that the number one fear among adults according to surveys is public speaking. And it is probably true for most children, especially the home schooled child.

Few individuals are born with the skill of public speaking. For the majority of us it is a skill that we develop as an adult and often in fear.

If children can be taught this valuable skill while they are young they will speak with confidence virtually eliminating the fear factor. The question then becomes when to start public speaking training? And what is the most effective way to train?

First, let us define what public speaking is.

Alexander Gregg put it this way, “There are three things to aim at in public speaking: first, to get into your subject, then to get your subject into yourself, and lastly, to get your subject into the heart of your audience.”

Public Speaking is the ability to speak coherently and confidently before ones peers or an audience. The ability to do so in a natural conversational way sets one apart from the masses. The art of public speaking defines a leader from a follower. It enables you to put forth your ideas in a way that will resonate with your audience—getting your subject into the consciousness of your audiences mind and heart.

When is the best time to start public speaking training?

The best time to start public speaking training is when a child is young between the age of 5 to 12. A child’s mind is like a sponge at this age. He takes in everything and he usually doesn’t have an understanding of fear.

In order to overcome the fear factor it is wise to teach this skill before the child becomes conscious of fear.

Why is public speaking more important for the home schooled child?

Home schooled children who are not exposed to team building activities or leadership activities can be intimidated when placed in a situation where they have to share their thoughts. In order to overcome this, they should practice speaking in public—in front of friends, family, church groups as often as they can.

In order to make properly benefit from such an exercise ask for feedback from select members of the audience after the presentation. It doesn’t have to be a stranger—your friends or relatives can give you suggestions that will help you to improve for the next time.

What to look for in feedback?

When asking for feedback ask your evaluator to keep track of any distracting habits—such as hand or foot movements. Let them record how many times you used “um”, “you know”, or “ah” for you want to eliminate these from your speech.

They should tell you whether you connected with the audience through eye contact. Did they feel that your subject was interesting or relevant? These things will help you to improve for the next time.

Why is public speaking valuable?

If a child is able to learn these skills while he is young, he will be equipped to lead and not follow. He will have confidence in his ideas and he will be able to defend them when challenged.

The good thing about developing your public speaking skill is that it is never too late to start.

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Written by Michelle Dyett-Welcome on August 10, 2009

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