It’s fair to say that most of us have been daunted by public speaking at one time in our lives. However, the more we practise it the more we get used to it, and it can often develop from something we avoid to something we enjoy!
Practising speaking in front of an audience, no matter how big or small, builds our confidence, which subsequently can bring about many benefits for future life.
Firstly, it helps us express ourselves more clearly and puts us at ease when talking to people, which helps us interact in a more personable manner.
This is important when making a good first impression. It’s said that when meeting someone new, people make judgements within the first few seconds. So whether it’s for making friends, meeting a partner, meeting colleagues or going for job interviews, coming across confident can be a great start.
On top of this, speaking publicly gives us experience in presenting ideas in a persuasive way. This is another invaluable soft skill for our professional lives.
Here are some ideas of ways our young people can build their public speaking skills and confidence in their academy in engaging, effective and (hopefully) fun ways.
- Pupil/student leadership teams and afterschool clubs are a great introduction to meeting more people and speaking with a small audience. They’ll often consist of debating topics with a small group of peers and presenting ideas to a member of staff. As the audience will be small and consist of people of a similar age, it’ll be less intimidating than a larger audience of adults.
- Members of staff can also give you feedback on how you speak, track your progress and ensure you’re constantly improving. So why not spark up a conversation with a trusted adult in your academy?
- If you feel up for it, leadership teams and school clubs can give you opportunities to meet new people, talk to and present to larger audiences such as whole classes/ key stages, in the comfort of a team
- Try to answer a few more questions in class, or perhaps offer to read passages when the teacher asks for volunteers. You’ll often be surrounded by friends and it’s a great way to push yourself to do a bit more speaking.
- Another great option could be presenting in assemblies. If you have something you are passionate about, why not reach out to a teacher to see if there is space to share this as part of an assembly?
Where you can, try to prepare well for your speeches. This means knowing your material inside out and practicing your delivery. Don’t forget, even the most practised speakers get nervous , so don’t worry if you get some butterflies! The more you practise, any nerves will get increasingly more manageable until, hopefully, they disappear altogether.
Here are some additional tips for public speaking:
- Choose a topic that you are passionate about. This will make it easier to get excited about your speech and to deliver it with enthusiasm.
- Practice your speech in front of a mirror, to a friend or a family member. This will help you get comfortable with your material and to identify any areas that you need to improve.
- Visualize yourself giving a successful speech. This will help you feel more confident and prepared when it comes time to deliver your speech in front of an audience.
- Take deep breaths and relax before you begin your speech. This will help you calm your nerves and to deliver your speech in a clear and confident voice.
- Smile and make eye contact with your audience. This will help you connect with your audience and to make your speech more engaging.
- Develop your own speaking style. Make it fun for yourself and the audience will have fun too.
- Try to avoid filler words such as “basically”, “um” and “like”. Deliver your speech with authority, confidence and conviction.
- No speech will be perfect. If you make a mistake, don’t worry, everybody does! Just move on and pick up where you left off.
- Your voice is a tool. Be wary of your tone, volume and speaking speed to maximise its effect.
- Laughter can be a great way to improve a speech. Add in a joke or two where appropriate.
- Don’t neglect body language! You’re also speaking with the way you present your body. If you present your body as confident and at ease, this will help your words follow suit.
- Don't be afraid to ask for help! Ensure any young person preparing for public speaking feels supported and knows who they can speak to with any worries, concerns or for advice.
Public speaking can be a daunting task, but it’s a skill that can be learned and developed. With practice and preparation, you and everyone at your academy can become effective public speakers, and in doing so build confidence and gain skills that will help you your whole lives.