Speak Don’t Freak: Improve Your Public Speaking Skills Pt. 2

This is part two in a series on helping young adults improve their public speaking skills. Check out last week’s blog post for part one. 
 
Just as a golfer battles nerves on the first tee, most of us have butterflies when we present. The good news is they usually don’t last long, and unless it’s a really bad case, the audience won’t notice. That was my biggest takeaway when I watched a video of myself at a presentation workshop. Whew!
 
Young adults are already in a season of rampant self-consciousness and insecurity. Public speaking may seem to exacerbate the problem, but actually the opposite is true. Honing presentation skills is one of the best ways to help teens grow in confidence and self-esteem.
 
Here are some helpful tips to help your children or students handle nerves and believe in themselves when preparing to speak in public:
 
 

  1. Remember, the better prepared you are, the more confident you’ll be.
  2. Cut yourself some slack. You don’t have to be a perfect orator to win over your audience! Some nervousness is to be expected.
  3. Remember, you (usually) know more about the subject than your audience, and only you know exactly what you plan to say. If you miss something, they won’t even notice.
  4. Try to ask your audience a question as early as possible. You’d be surprised by how much this relaxes you. And, it creates a bond from the start.
  5. In most cases, the audience is on your side and they want you to succeed.
  6. If it’s a really bad case of the nerves, cough once before you enter the room. It’s a great stress reliever! No kidding!

 
Building effective communication skills in young adults should be one of our most important training priorities. It’s an essential ingredient to a successful career and plays a huge role in all of our relationships. Here’s how you can help them grow in this area:
 

  1. Encourage them to take speech classes, debate, and club assignments with speaking and leadership opportunities.
  2. Have them practice their speeches/presentations in front of you and offer positive feedback and gentle suggestions.
  3. Observe and evaluate speakers (e.g., political candidates) together to help them see the difference.
  4. Teach them etiquette and manners at every opportunity.
  5. Help them learn to read body language. Show them the difference between someone engaged and someone bored. This will serve them in social situations as well!

 
Then, watch how they conduct themselves when speaking with others (especially adults) in any situation. Praise them accordingly when you catch them doing it well. Confidence in general communications breeds confidence in presentations.
 

One day, they’ll thank you for it! (Okay, maybe.)
 


How have you trained the young people in your life or classroom to grow in confidence with their communication skills?  We’d love to hear your ideas and suggestions; please share them by posting your comments below. And then pass this post on to a friend who may benefit. We are always growing the circle!
 
 

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