The Art of Speaking with a Mask – A Surgical Mask That Is!
How can my child present with a mask? Most of the parents out there like yourselves may have this burning question at the back of your mind. The COVID-19 measures and the need for a proper safety management plan have meant that our communication habits must change. One of the measures that may directly impact your child’s communication journey is the mandatory wearing of masks. It is tempting to think that the mask will prevent your child from being an effective communicator.
While we cannot deny that wearing a mask will have an impact on your child’s presentation, we believe that it is an opportunity for your child to hone other communication habits. The mask is likely to impact vocal quality aspects, such as articulation, projection, and pronunciation/enunciation. However, that opens up a chance for your child to experiment with other techniques that help an audience to follow their speech or presentation. We will share three of the different techniques they can experiment with!
Tip #1: Understand and Improve Your Vocal Quality
Let us immediately jump to communication aspects that your child can focus on! As we have shared, the vocal quality of your child’s presentation will likely be affected. As a first step, it is important to identify the specific impact on your child’s delivery. For example, some of our students (who were presenting with masks before the Circuit-Breaker) found a marked impact on their ability to project their voices. Beyond the volume, the need to pause more resulted in a less smooth presentation.
This, however, allowed them to pinpoint the areas they could target and compensate for. One way of compensating for this effect is to slow down the general pace considerably. Instead of delivering a highly-energetic presentation, your child may need to adjust with a measured, controlled pace and a focus on articulation. This may also be an opportunity for your child to relook their script and substitute complex words for simpler ones! At the Public Speaking Academy, our Trainers are always ready to share feedback on areas your child can compensate for.
Tip #2: Utilise Pauses, Structure, and Eye Contact to Facilitate Understanding
Moving beyond the vocal quality, your child can refocus their attention to audience-interaction elements to aid their understanding. This may involve a relook of their prepared speech, presentation, or their script. What can they do differently to help their audience to follow their presentation? This may be a new area for your child, especially for those who shy away from audience-interaction elements (such as asking questions).
With the possible impact of mask-wearing, your child should now allocate more catch-up phases to help the audience follow the presentation. They may check in with the audience at key points, such as a transition to a new point or before the start of a story. Your child should also be more comfortable with leaving room for questions from the audience. Some of our students, for example, can incorporate a dedicated QnA segment at the end of their presentation. All these techniques will go far in ensuring that the audience catches the key points.
Tip #3: Emphasise Other Body Language Elements
Finally, the move from the vocal quality of the presentation offers your child an opportunity to hone their non-verbal communication skills. The typical body language elements that they can focus on would include stage positioning, guiding hand gestures, and varied eye contact. For stage positioning, your child can move around the stage and assign a new location to the main point in their presentation. This creates a more dynamic presentation, especially with the reduced impact of facial expressions.
Your child may also combine hand gestures and eye contact to maintain the connection with the audience. The usual signposting hand gestures can help your child to guide the audience through the various points they may have. A varied eye contact, with a wide angle of attack, ensures that the audience still remains connected during the presentation. The main point we emphasise is to give your child the safe space to experiment with these new techniques and apply them in their upcoming presentations or speeches!
Un-Mask Without Removing Your Mask!
Speaking with a mask is uncomfortable, especially for our young communicators out there. At the same time, it provides your child with a powerful opportunity to shift their focus to non-verbal communication skills. This renewed focus may allow them to develop as dynamic communicators, especially as they become the key voices in the post-COVID-19 world! We hope that these tips will help them along on that journey.
By The Way…
If you’re keen to take your child’s public speaking & presentation skills (either kids in-class presentation or adult business/corporate presentation) to the next level so that he/ she may public speak and present with flair and charisma, feel free to check out our offerings below!
For more about our Public Speaking Courses for Kids / Children:
For more about our Public Speaking Courses for Adults :