5 Tips To Help Students Become More Confident Public Speakers

A special thanks to our partners at Capitol Debate for providing this incredibly useful information on how to help our kiddos become amazing public speakers. Want to find out more about Capitol Debate's summer camp? Scroll to the bottom for more info and links.

Did you know that a 2001 Gallup poll found that 40% of Americans are afraid of public speaking? In fact, more Americans are afraid of public speaking than they are of heights or needles.

Because of this, speech and debate activities can sound really scary to a lot of our kiddos. Talking in front of friends at school in their speech class is hard enough. The idea of getting up in front of a judge and talking about current events can feel nearly impossible.

Luckily, it’s completely possible to transform from a shy student to a confident public speaker. Our whole mission at Capitol Debate is to help every student find their voice. We know your child has impactful things to say and it is our job to give them the tools to say them!

Below we have compiled some pointers on how to help your child develop confidence in public speaking:

Be Prepared

The best way to ensure that your child feels calm for a presentation is to make sure that they know their topic inside and out. If you don’t understand your topic, your audience will be able to tell.  Ensure that your child does their research and is comfortable with the topic they will be discussing. Find studies and facts pertaining to the topic and take some notes to study and incorporate into the speech. If your child isn’t sure if they are ready, have them try to explain the topic to you before giving their speech. This is a good way to make sure your son or daughter has a solid understanding of the topic.

Practice in the mirror

Practicing in the mirror is a great way to see what you look like when you are talking. If you can see yourself speak, you will be able to notice the way you stand or move your hands. Once your child knows what their body language looks like, he’she can adjust it to look the way they want.  Additionally, body language is an important part of how you are perceived as a speaker. Good body language practices include purposeful hand gestures, making eye contact with those in the audience, and utilizing appropriate facial expressions. 

Power Poses

Power poses are a secret weapon that can be utilized just about anywhere. Amy Cuddy, a researcher at Harvard University who studies body language and the impact it has on your hormones, has found that there are certain poses that you can engage in that actually make you feel and act more confident.  One of the most popular poses is called the Wonder Woman pose. All you have to do for this pose is stand tall with your chest out and hands on your hips for two minutes. It might sound silly, but according to Cuddy, “results of this study confirmed our prediction that posing in high-power nonverbal displays (as opposed to low-power nonverbal displays) would cause neuroendocrine and behavioral changes for both male and female participants. High power poses like the Wonder Woman pose increase testosterone by 20 percent and decreased cortisol levels by 25 percent.”

Stand up tall

Now that your child has mastered the power poses, it’s time to incorporate the posture into their actual speech.  Speech posture can be as simple as straightening your back and standing with your feet firmly planted. This will help your child feel more secure and make you appear more polished.

Project Your Voice

You can do all of the research and preparation in the world, but none of that matters if no one can hear you!  Your child will need to practice projecting his/her voice so that even the person in the very back of the room can hear the speech. Some exercises for projecting include taking deep breaths, relaxing your muscles, and maintaining that good posture.

Want to spend two weeks becoming the best public speaker you can be? Join us at camp this summer! Check out locations near you here: Capitol Debate

Capitol Debate Summer Camp Fun Facts:

Going to camp at OSU?   OSU is one of the Nation’s top-20 public universities and the main campus is one of America’s largest and most comprehensive. Ohio State offers more than one hundred and sixty undergraduate majors, as well as a personalized study program where students can design a nontraditional education. Sports are a big part of campus life, with the Ohio State Buckeyes competing in the NCAA Division 1 Big Ten Conference. Ohio State University’s campus has been a stage for academic achievement and a laboratory for innovation for over one hundred and forty-seven years.

Students attending our Ohio State University camp have the opportunity to commute to camp daily or stay right on campus in the Smith-Steeb Residence Hall. To check out a sample camp schedule click here. Our summer experience is suitable for students of various experience levels, with a progressive curriculum so students can return every summer to build upon their current skill levels and help them grow.

Summer Camp Video: Who else is counting down the days until summer camp? Until then, watch this video to get in the summer camp spirit! We can’t wait to do this all again in Summer 2018!

Tuition Deadlines: Are you ready to sign up for camp? April 10 is the deadline for Spring Early Bird Prices – save money and register now!