Ready, Set, Go! How to Help Your Child Craft Their First Speech
In-class presentations and project work are becoming the key opportunities for your child to start experiencing public speaking from a young age. These presentations help to nurture students into confident critical thinkers and communicators. One of the experiences we hear from our students concerns the difficulties they face in crafting their presentation script on their own while at home. While their family members can help to be the simulated audience for their practice sessions, students often miss out on the finer assessment of their speeches during the crafting process.
Reading up on the various speech techniques and watching numerous public speaking videos may take up too much of your time. The investment in itself may seem disproportionate to the pay-out to your child when he/she practices. We understand that not all parents will have the time or opportunity to do so – here is some help. The speech-crafting process is not entirely complicated. To help you out, we have prepared a simple 3-step framework you can use to help your child out from the speech crafting to the speech delivery process.
Step #1 – What Is Your Point/Message?
Be it a short speech or a script for a presentation, effective public speakers know the exact message they intend to share with their audience. Building on this clarity, they know how to craft this message in a relatable and memorable manner. Your child, in the initial speech/script crafting process, may not have a clear idea of what he/she intends to talk about or share. They may have the content they intend to deliver but arranging the information in a public speaking setting will take further work.
One way you can help your child out is to have an open and honest discussion about what your child hopes to deliver in their speech. Ask them to set aside their draft script or preparatory materials and to tell you, in their own words, what the main message(s) of their speech is/are. This encourages them to practice the delivery of the key components of their speeches and facilitates mastery of their materials and content. Through this, you can help your child navigate the various ideas he/she may have and focus on the most effective route to his/her message.
Step #2 – What is Your Story?
It goes without saying that a story is a powerful tool in making a speech or presentation dynamic and layered. Once your child has crystallised his/her main points or message, the next step is to facilitate the inclusion of a relevant and appropriate story. While a story tends to be a more personal exercise, you can help your child find and flesh out the appropriate story for their speeches/presentations. The best stories tend to derive from personal experiences of passion or achievement. Once these stories are unlocked, the details will flow naturally. Ask your child what they feel about their main message and why they chose or are interested in the same message.
Your guiding role can go beyond the ideation process. After your child has arrived at a story idea, help them build the details of the story. For example, the use of the interrogative pronoun technique (e.g. asking Who, What, When, Where, Why, How) can help your child discover and tackle blind-spots in their story.
Step #3 – What Type of Speaker Do You Want To Be?
Finally, as your child finalises his/her speech or presentation script, they will definitely seek your help for the practice runs before the actual presentation. Beyond giving general critique, one way of value-adding to your child’s learning experience is to kickstart the process of finding out the type of speaker they want to be. This focuses more on the development of speaking style – one that is appropriate for the context and content of their presentation. Avoid conflating personalities and speaking style – a shy personality, for example, may very well deliver a persuasive speech powerfully and tenaciously. There is no need for your child to finalise and stick to one speaking style – your role is to help ignite the awareness as they are presenting. This awareness will go a long way as they develop as young public speakers!
Going Beyond the Classroom – Learning Can Continue at Home
The learning journey for a young public speaker does not start and end only in a public speaking course for children. The learning process and honing of skills should continue even when they are at home. This is especially so when your child has their presentations to accomplish back in school. We know that this is not easy for parents; hopefully, with the three simple steps above, you too can play a key role in developing your child as young, confident public speakers!