“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel.”
— Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American essayist and lecturer
Quite true! A well-delivered speech has the power to work on the listeners' psyche and arouse their emotions. It also bestows power on the speaker; for, while preparing for a speech and delivering it a speaker becomes skilled in various domains such as cognitive and emotional. In case of children, it helps accelerate their growth as communicators, and teaches them the values of diligence and hard work. Also, participating in speech contests enables children to develop a competitive spirit and learn from failures.
But, delivering a good speech in front of a sizeable audience is no easy task, especially for a child. From identifying the topic to presenting it well, your child will need to take care of several things for a successful presentation. Here’s how you can help him prepare for his speech competition.
1. Decide the topic: Whether it is assigned or needs to be chosen by the speaker, the topic of a speech plays a very important role. The best topics are those that engage the interest of the audience. If your child has to choose the topic by himself, brainstorm with him to see what could be the most compelling and relevant topic he can speak on. Once the topic is finalised, discuss with him what he knows about it and the new points he could include for his speech.
2. Design the structure of the speech: A well-structured speech always has the most impact. So, decide on the structure and the length of the speech. Pay attention to other elements such as starting the speech with a proverb, adding a story in the middle or ending with a famous quote. A speech embedded with messages of good values and morals would certainly earn your child some brownie points.
3. Edit, re-edit: While no one is going to expect Shakespearean language from your child, it is very important to not let her make errors. Though you should encourage her to draft the speech on her own, go over it with her to make her understand her mistakes and help her correct them.
4. Make him practise, not learn: Public speaking does not come naturally to everyone. To ensure that fear of public speaking does not impair your child from giving a good speech, make him practise his speech again and again, instead of just learning the speech by rote. He can start re-hearsing in front of a mirror to correct his body language and expressions, and by looking at points jotted down on palm cards or a notepad. Once he is comfortable enough, he can practise without the notes before you and other family members. While he does so, do not forget to clap, appreciate and encourage him after he finishes his speech. These rehearsals would bring clarity in his speech and certainly boost his confidence manifold.
5. Focus on voice modulation and body language: While delivering the speech, it is important to have the right facial expressions, body language, and voice modulation. To help your child un-derstand how to do these, you can either demonstrate them yourself or show her videos of ac-complished speakers. Techniques such as pausing at the right place or stressing on the right phrases are key to delivering a good performance.
6. Dress him up well: First impressions always matter, that too when one is up on a stage or in front of a crowd. Dressing your child up well and grooming him to look smart and professional is important. Help your child choose an outfit that makes him feel happy, confident and secure. It would not only make him seem presentable, but also keep him a notch above his competitors.
Public speaking has numerous benefits. It will help your child become more confident, develop his communication skills and leadership qualities, and advance his career in the future. So, encourage your child to participate in such competitions and follow all the above-mentioned steps to help him prepare. With time, you will be the proud parent of a child who can deliver a great speech!