Remember to Say, Thank You! Public Speaking Etiquette for the Young
Reunion occasions like Chinese New Year, Thanksgiving, Hari Raya, Deepavali may be around the corner (depending on the time you’re reading this article) and with that comes another set of amazing house-visiting, bulging red packets, and … many, many awkward conversations for your child! Festive occasions are usually an opportunity for distant family members to get together and catch up. This means long conversations and a chance for your child to introduce themselves again or re-create a first impression with their extended family. Whether at the dining table during the reunion dinner or while sitting around watching the television, an opportunity for conversation will always exist for your child.
These opportunities for conversations are also learning opportunities. For us, public speaking and communication skills would also apply even for informal conversation settings! While this may come as a surprise, your child can start to develop positive public speaking etiquette or habits from young. Your child can be that charismatic and engaging kid instead of the grumpy, frowning, sullen, antisocial child seated by the side of a room, rooted on their phone instead of having a conversation.
We have met parents who shared about how they want their child to be more confident when talking to relatives. Today, we are going to share three simple steps on how you can help your child to build up his/her interpersonal communication skills.
Step #1: Create a First Impression – Introduce Yourself with Energy and Enthusiasm
Just like standing before the crowd on stage, the first few minutes in a conversation involves the creation of a first impression. This is especially important for your child as he/she explores and develop their personalities. You can start by observing how your child introduces him/herself to someone and have a discussion on how they can improve their introduction. Be it a family member or someone new; it is important for your child to appreciate that the first, few minutes of a conversation is crucial for impression-setting.
While informal conversations may not require a structured or planned approach, it is still a positive habit for your child to think about how to approach a conversation. The common body language that indicates a lack of confidence involves a reluctance to maintain eye contact and a preference to shift or pace around while having a conversation. Instead, encourage your child to introduce themselves with energy, confidence and enthusiasm. Adopt body language features such as a strong handshake or a sustained eye contact period.
Step #2: Continue the Conversation Beyond That Few Seconds
Most interactions are fleeting. It starts and ends with the introduction; your child then runs off to hide in the corner of the room. You can help your child fight this habit by focussing on the next step – by going from impression to conversation. We admit it is not easy to maintain a conversation. We have met adult clients who ask how to sustain a conversation engagingly. This is the very reason why we believe that the habit of conversation-building should start from young.
There are three great ways to sustain a conversation for your child. First, adopt open-ended questions to clarify aspects of what the other party has said. For example, seek more details from your conversation partner to continue the topic. Second, build stories or personal anecdotes with specific and precise details. Share as many details as your child can in a story. At this young age, you can encourage your child to be as open in a conversation as possible. Third, explore emotions, opinions and ideas with your conversation partner. Beyond just giving information in a conversation, encourage your child to venture into insights. What are the concepts that they are passionate or interested in? What are some of their beliefs or values? These are insightful conversation builders, even for a young child having a conversation for the first time.
Step #3: Encourage Active Listening and Show Empathy
Empathy is a strong conversation glue – it involves the ability to understand, acknowledge and appreciate what your conversation partner is experiencing. While this may sound like an advanced ability for your child, you will be surprised as to how your child may already know how to project empathy. Being empathetic makes your conversation partner feel like they are at the centre of your attention and that they are heard. By projecting empathy, you will get to continue a conversation with ease and sincerity.
One method for building empathy in a conversation is to practise active listening. For your child, active listening goes beyond just “hearing”. There are three ways for your child to practise active listening. First, adopt vocal cues such as nodding or acknowledging what the other party is saying. This should be done with sincerity. Second, use empathetic statements that show that you understood what the other party is talking about. Use transition phrases such as “That sounds interesting …” or “That sounds difficult for you …” Third, ask relevant questions throughout the conversations to show that your child is still engaged in the conversation.
*I can imagine…I feel you…understood that…*
Combining these three steps will help your child to continuously engage their conversation partner and build charisma from a young age!
Have a Fantastic Celebration and Conversation!
Notwithstanding all the tips above, conversations should occur and proceed naturally. Let your child discover the joys of conversations and develop his/her interpersonal communication skills organically. Alternatively, practise with low-stakes conversation as your child builds up his/her repertoire of conversation skills. With these three tips, your child can start the family reunion celebrations on the right foot!
Public Speaking Academy strives to help students with both types of communication:
For verbal communication:
Public Speaking for Kids / Children:
For written communication:
English Tuition for Kids – PSLE English Primary 5 & 6: