I thought back on my time in school, I had very limited opportunities to present and work on public speaking. In fact, there’s only one time that I can think of that still sticks in my memory where I did have the opportunity to present in public. It was my senior year of high school and I was asked to go speak to 5th and 6th graders and their parents at a banquet to talk about high school athletics—what they could expect, what it was all about, and what it meant to me as a young adult. When I think back on that speech, if I could go back in time, there would be three pieces of advice I would give myself:
1. Know Your Content but Not to the Point of Memorization
As I prepared for a presentation, I wrote out exactly what I was going to say—pretty much verbatim, word for word. And then I would just sit there and read it over and over again.
2. Rehearse in the Environment That You’ll be Delivering Your Speech
In high school, I would sit in my room or at my desk in class and just read through what I had written and mumble it under my breath. So, I think had I had the opportunity to go down to our gymnasium, maybe stand behind a podium that the school had and practice delivering my speech, I would have felt more comfortable doing the presentation.
3. Consider Your Audience
My high school speech was to 5th and 6th graders and their parents and I do vividly remember my closing line. It was, “If I think back on all the blood, sweat, and tears that I went through playing football, would I do it again? And the answer is absolutely, yes.” Well, I thought that was a pretty cool closing line to drive home the point of how important sports were to me, but saying that and talking about blood, and sweat, and tears to a group of 5th and 6th graders and their parents…maybe not the best thing to say to get them excited about playing high school sports.
So, as you’re thinking about your little ones, or if you’re a teacher, or if you’re involved in your school, try to find as many ways as you can to give them opportunities to practice this important skill of presenting and public speaking. If you have an experience from your younger life, when you had to present or had the opportunity to do some sort of public speaking, I would love to hear about it. Please leave me a comment below!