Part of what I do is consult with other authors as they begin their journey as a writer or I mentor them as they get ready to launch a new book. A few months ago, I had the pleasure of working with Stacey Marshall, author of the Captain Courage Series. I was drawn to her books because they deal with Courage, a character trait I also include in my books because of its importance in helping children in the world.

Welcome Stacey today as a guest blogger as she shares a bit of advice with us on helping children to become effective public speakers. As an adult, I have learned that public speaking is required in more than just your job description. It is a skill that we use on a daily basis whether you are speaking up at a PTO meeting or you are simply speaking with parents at a playdate. Helping your children develop this important skill is like giving them a special gift that will last a lifetime.

Check out Stacey and her fabulous titles over on her website.

How Children Can Become Effective,

Confident Public Speakers

By Stacey A. Marshall

A great public speaker, whether a seasoned professional or a young child, is someone who projects confidence and charisma to hold their audience’s attention. This doesn’t mean that someone who is nervous about public speaking will be a failure. It’s actually okay to feel nervous before public speaking. It gets the adrenaline flowing, which gives us extra energy. We can turn this energy into enthusiasm and charm. However, it is not okay to look and sound nervous, which will detract from the message and make the audience feel disconnected from the speaker. Helping children project self-assuredness and magnetism when they speak may seem like a daunting task, but it’s really just a matter of following a couple of simple tips:

First, one must help a child sound confident. To do this, encourage your child to speak strongly and assuredly vs. muttering in a sheepish, quiet voice. It’s helpful for parents to model the difference between speaking up vs. mumbling. I love to use puppets to do this when I work with kids. Have a confident-sounding puppet introduce himself to your child. Next, have a shy, barely-audible puppet introduce himself. Ask for feedback about the puppets’ speaking abilities, then have your son/daughter mimic the strong, confident puppet. You can also help by reminding your child to take deep breaths before speaking, slow down his speaking rate, and increase his voice volume to ensure that everyone in the room can hear him.

Next, since a good public speaker looks confident, we must teach kids to use self-assured body language. If students simply stand in a posture of confidence, even when they’re feeling shy, it will help bolster their own feelings of self-confidence. If teachers or parents would like to model for children how to act confident via their body language, they should demonstrate how to stand in what I call the confident position. This means to stand up straight and tall, make eye contact with listeners, smile and use some hand gestures, when appropriate. Looking confident and feeling confident are intrinsically related.

Here are some simple activities that parents can do to help hone their child’s speaking skills:

1) Use a mirror: Practice animated facial expressions (e.g., smile and use eye contact with your audience). Looking into the mirror, compare the difference between friendly, confident facial expression and other types of expression such as: sad, fearful and angry.

2) Conduct an interview: Ask your child to speak into a microphone (¦or hairbrush, serving spoon, or anything else that resembles a mike!), and formally ask him to tell you one interesting thing about his day. Remind your child to use enthusiastic, nonverbal communication such as hand gestures when speaking.

3) Role play: Have your child pretend to do show-and-tell, introduce himself to a new friend, or order a meal in a restaurant, using confident posture, a smile, and a strong voice.

4) Tell a joke: Tell your child a funny joke, and as you do, exaggerate the inflection in your voice, and use big hand gestures and facial expression. Then, have your child tell the joke back to you, using the same animated delivery.

Stacey Marshall, M.S., C.C.C.-S.L.P., is a public speaking coach and author of Captain Courage and the Fear-Squishing Shoes and Captain Courage and the World’s Most Shocking Secret.