Kids start making public presentations using programs like PowerPoint earlier and earlier in school. Many elementary schools have students making formal presentations as early as the 3rd grade! Some are even earlier than that. You would think that, with this type of exposure, speaking up in a group would be a little less scary to kids today.
Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case. Girls in particular struggle with speaking; whether it is raising their hand in class or addressing an assembly, nerves can definitely hinder their participation experience. Sadly, butterflies are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to feeling nervous. Most tweens and teenagers start feeling fear to speak up because they don’t want to appear stupid in front of other people. In a social world where pictures are shared instantly and opinions appear on platforms like Instagram, Snapchat and even Facebook, it is no wonder the trepidation to speak is amplified at such a young age.
Five Quick Things Girls Can Do To Become More Confident Speakers
Speaking nerves can be conquered. Following five simple tips can transform our girls from timid to tenacious public speakers:
Preparation is a key ingredient to appearing knowledgeable (and avoid that fear about how you will look to peers). Learning more than just the bare minimum required will make it easier to answer questions. Knowing more is always better than knowing less. Research the topic thoroughly. Once you’ve mastered what is required, find two additional details and learn those too. Once you know the subject matter, find a way to tell a story about it rather than just stating the facts. The audience will find it more interesting and you will feel more engaged sharing the information if it is less of a monologue and more of a shared story experience.
Showing a serious face not only makes the audience uncomfortable, it can make you feel uncomfortable too. Look in a mirror or record yourself with a phone and see how you look on camera. Knowing what you look like to others and how smiling helps will give you a sense of wellbeing.
So often when people who fear speaking shrink away and look like they want to hide. Instead, do a combination of deep powerful breathing to raise energy up. Use that energy to show enthusiasm for the topic no matter what it is; the audience will lean forward to learn more if you have excitement.
Change Your Body Language
Do a physical exercise like taking up space to change your body chemistry. Try something like the power pose — feet shoulder-width apart, hands on your hips, elbows bent and your chest high. Go to the rest room and stand in a stall for 2 minutes. Count slowly to 120 and you will be amazed how calm you feel
It’s true what they say: practice does make perfect! Every great speaker had to practice first while learning her craft. Spending time rehearsing is never a waste of time; it is like paying it forward. If you know the speech front to back it makes going in front of other people so much easier.
No matter what happens, the only way to improve presenting is by doing it in different situations. Volunteer to share ideas with a group you are involved like a sports team, religious group or other extra-curricular activity.
Ready to speak up with us? We’d love to hear from you! Join us and share what you do to feel confident before and during a presentation. Leave a comment below and let us know what you think!