June 2, 2021

The Benefits of Public Speaking Courses for Kids

Public speaking is a little like marmite – some people relish the idea of speaking in front of their peers, to share ideas, persuade people to agree with them or even to entertain. Others recoil at the thought of having to talk in front of others and the mere idea of it can spark fear and anxiety. Harrison Ford, one of Hollywood’s best-known actors, had a fear of public speaking in his younger years calling it, “a mixed bag of terror and anxiety.” Like it or not, public speaking is an essential life skill in the modern world and public speaking courses for children are a great place to start.

In the words of the American philosopher and poet, Ralf Waldo Emerson, ‘Speech is power; speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel’.

Communication is a skill our children so desperately need – but where do we expect them to learn how?

Hoping they somehow develop these skills via osmosis through life seems like we are doing them a disservice. Gandhi, one of the world’s most well-known, inspirational speakers, was terrified of public speaking in his younger years. We know public speaking is teachable. Founder/CEO of Global Public Speaking, Allison Shapira, reiterates the ‘teachability’ of the skill of public speaking. Using the example of breaking techniques, she says it is the “most important, yet the least taught, areas within public speaking.” So let’s teach our children and equip them, as best we can, for adult life.

At Role Models, we have identified that so many of the ‘life skills’ we wish our children to develop are often not taught directly in schools. Skills such as communication, resilience, confidence, leadership, and public speaking are so important. Providing children with opportunities to develop these skills will enable them to thrive. Winston Churchill said, ‘of all the talents bestowed on men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory’. In a world where we have an information overload, how we communicate is more important than ever.

Professor and sociologist Andrew Zekeri’s 2004 study found that the number one skill that college graduates sited as being most beneficial in the workplace was the skill of public speaking. It is believed that 70% of all jobs involve some form of public speaking. Now more than ever, the ability to communicate is essential to succeed. The World Economic Forum has highlighted ‘Leadership and social influence’ to be one of the top ten job skills of tomorrow. Whether in business meetings, conferences, teaching a class or speaking on social media platforms, we are constantly required to speak in public.

It is such a valuable, lifelong skill – but what are we actively doing to equip our children with the ability to speak publicly?

Whether your child has an innate confidence and ability to communicate or seems incapable of voicing their opinions outside of those within their comfort zone, Role Models provides courses to develop, practice and fine tune the skills of public speaking in a fun, age-appropriate, accessible way.

The benefits of public speaking

The benefits of teaching children the art of public speaking are wide-ranging.

  • Builds confidence- If your child has a fear of public speaking, pushing though and facing those fears will boost their confidence. In our recent blog on fear, we discuss the importance of supporting your child in facing and overcoming their fears, rather than avoiding them.
  • Improves communication – learning how to communicate our thoughts and needs is fundamental to our ability to work collaboratively, forge and maintain relationships and to work as part of a team to foster creativity.
  • Leadership – the ability to speak publicly provides our children with the skills to lead people in their vision and reach people.
  • Critical thinking – In order to speak publicly, one must decide not only what they are saying, but who they are speaking to and what they need to consider. There is an element of persuasion in public speaking. The ability to bring people onboard with your thinking involves an understanding of their needs.

How can you support your child in developing their public speaking?

  • Encourage your child to listen to different speakers. Whatever they are passionate about, find someone speaking publicly about it. Discuss with them what they liked or didn’t like, how the speaker used their voice, body language and even humour to engage the listener.
  • Encourage your child to read, watch child appropriate news content and engage. Ask them their opinion, encourage them to have an opinion and share yours with them. This takes practise and take care to always show respect for their opinion and engage in a healthy debate with them, forcing them to really challenge themselves and their standpoint.
  • Encourage your child to find their passion. This isn’t a quick one and it takes a lot of time and trial and error, however it is hugely beneficial for children to find and identify their passions and to have space to express them.
  • Encourage your child and give them opportunities to communicate. Whether it is telling the waiter their own order at the restaurant, thanking a friend’s parents for a play date or a relative for a birthday present, encourage your child to communicate with as many people as is (safely) possible, building their confidence each time.
  • Most importantly – experience, we know that the more exposure we have to addressing our fears or practicing new skills, the better we become. At Role Models, our Collaboration Course (online and offline) and Public Speaking (online) session all provide children with opportunities to practice public speaking whilst actively building their confidence and leadership skills. They enable children to experience public speaking in small and supportive groups whilst encouraging them to process how it feels and how to improve.

How can Role Models help your child?

At Role Models, our courses are designed to positively impact and inspire a generation of young people around the world to be the best version of themselves. Our courses, coupled with the material provided to parents, have had a hugely positive impact on thousands of children world-wide. We consistently receive positive feedback from parents about the impact of our courses.

“Excellent content to help children with understanding confidence, why it is important to have it, how to build it up. Amazing instructor who was able to get my daughter who was selectively mute to participate in a mock interview.”

In the fast-paced modern world, we can help our children by providing them with the tools they need to develop their confidence to reach their full potential and truly thrive. Teaching public speaking and the skills required in leadership are two of many areas that Role Models are passionate about supporting children with.

This article was written by Laura Kay, Character Education Team Manager at Role Models.