Public speaking is one of the most nerve-wracking things you can do. However, many young people are naturally suited to public speaking as often their thoughts are inventive and their delivery authentic.
You can improve young speakers’ confidence and alleviate their fears by helping them practice self-compassion and have them prepare properly for the big day.
Public speaking is a skill. Like any skill, it can be honed and developed over time and with consistent practice. However, this means that you can’t expect young people to be at a professional level on their first attempts.
Instead, teach young people to practice self-compassion. Self-compassion can improve their confidence and help them see the positives in their performance. After each speaking event, prompt them to try these health-boosting, self-compassion exercises:
Embody kindness: Encourage young people to be as kind to themselves as they are to others. For your part, avoid non-constructive criticism, and try to compliment them more often.
Help them analyze their inner voice: Are they overly harsh on themselves? Do their thoughts improve their confidence or destroy it? Try to help them analyze their inner voice and modify it if needed through journaling and self-reflection.
Have them write a letter to themselves: After each performance, have young speakers write themselves a letter as though they were a friend. Encourage them to focus on the positives of their performance, and be gentle about how you offer critiques.
Completing these exercises will improve young speakers’ self-compassion and set them on a journey of improvement. Over time, these practices will increase their confidence and boost their overall well-being.
Public speaking can be exhausting. Many speakers experience a serious energy slump before, during, or after a speaking event and should prepare to top up their energy reserves when needed.
Unfortunately, many energy drinks and sugary foods are marketed toward young people. These products aren’t just bad for their health, they’ll also derail their chances of performing successfully. Make young speakers aware of the cons of consuming these products.
You can help young speakers naturally boost their energy by drinking more water. Staying hydrated ensures that all of their bodily functions work correctly and keeps them feeling sharp. Cutting down on caffeine can help them avoid energy spikes and slumps. Energy slumps can jeopardize their steady cadence and completely derail their public speaking.
Consider some light exercises before the public speaking event. If they seem nervous, light exercise can take their mind off things and help them feel more engaged. Try not to overdo it, as they will still need their energy later.
Preparing properly and naturally lifting young people’s energy can significantly improve their confidence. They’ll feel ready and focused when they take to the podium, and can rest easy in the knowledge that they’ve given it their all.
Procrastination can kill confidence and leave young speakers feeling like a bundle of nerves. Instead of putting off preparations, get ahead of schedule by revising, studying, and practicing their speech together.
Start with a solid revision process. After they’ve completed the first draft, reread their speech and consider the bigger picture:
Is the purpose of the speech clear?
Do their ideas flow?
Does the audience have all the information they need?
Once you have the big picture taken care of, focus on smaller adjustments:
Are their word choices appropriate/optimal?
Should they increase or decrease their cadence?
Is their writing grammatically correct?
Once the speech is finalized, they need to start practicing their delivery. Start with a small, trusted audience. Ideally, this will be close friends or relatives who understand the purpose of their speech.
When they think they have a finalized speech, record them and listen to it together. Do you notice any gaps in information? Are there any awkward pauses or unclear sentences? Listening to a recording can be painful, but doing so will improve their confidence on the day of their speech.
Use Role Models
Good role models can improve young people’s public speaking abilities and help them feel more confident. Suggest books by public speaking experts like Dale Carnegie and Carmine Gallo. These books are filled with valid advice and will improve their overall understanding of public speaking.
YouTube is an invaluable resource in today’s public speaking world. Consider watching the speeches of renowned orators like Les Brown and Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. These speakers have learned the craft of public speaking over years of practice. Young speakers can learn from them by copying some of their actions and seeing what suits their style.
Everyone gets nervous when they have to speak in public. However, young people are in a great position to improve their public speaking persona and gain valuable life experience. You can improve their confidence by practicing together with them before the big day and encouraging self-compassion. When the day arrives, try to help young speakers maintain a steady flow of energy by drinking plenty of water, avoiding caffeine, and engaging in some light exercise.