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Stage fright in children: Causes and Solution

Stage fright in children: Causes and Solution

I was conducting a Public Speaking Workshop for 5th to 7th std students. At the end of day 1, we had given speeches to all the students. They had to prepare and give the speech the next day in front of the audience.

Next day, at the start of the session Keval* came to me. His facial expressions showed that there was something wrong. He almost had tears in his eyes. (*Name changed) 

Keval: Sir,I am not feeling well.  I have pain in my chest.stage fright, performance anxiety, fear of public speaking

Me: (I got worried) OK. Since when is it paining?

Keval: Since yesterday evening.

Me: Oh. Did you tell your parents?

Keval: Yes. I told my mother.

Me: Then? Have you consulted a doctor?

Keval: She said it is OK. I get this feeling whenever I have to speak in front of the audience.

I was relieved. This was again a case of performance anxiety or stage fright. I comforted him that if he has prepared his speech, I will tell him how to deliver it properly.

Ishita katyal, confident speaker, In 2016, I happened to listen to a TEDx speech by an 11 year old girl Ishita Katyal. She was superb in front of the huge audience. 

So, on one hand we have students like Keval who have fear of speaking in front of public and on the other we have Ishita who can speak very boldly in front of public. Why is there such a difference?

 

Causes of stage fright

Many people believe that stage confidence is god gifted. Therefore some people have stage fear and performance anxiety and some are confident. The reality is – public speaking or stage confidence is an acquired skill and needs to be learnt.

People don’t realize that speaking and public speaking are different. They assume that since they know speaking, they can speak in public as well

There are 3 main reasons why people have stage fright:

  1. Lack of Learning:  Not knowing the right techniques or no formal learning of public speaking. If you have not learnt swimming, you will drown in water. Same way, if you have not learnt public speaking, you will have stage fright.
  2. Lack of practice: Some people have knowledge about what is required to speak confidently in front of public. But they do not put in efforts in practice.
  3. Negative thinking: Many people have knowledge of the techniques and they also put in efforts. But they still falter on stage due to their negative thinking. They keep on getting influenced by some incidents of the past and think that they are going to mess up with the speech.

How to overcome stage fright

Since we know the reasons, we also know how to get the solution to the problem of stage fright.

  1. Learn: Children need structured inputs on how to become a better public speaker. This can come from books, videos, workshops, after school classes, etc. If you have an elder in the family who is a good speaker, she can guide the child on the nuances.
  2. Practice: Like in any performing art or sport, good speaking needs practice. Parents need to motivate children to put in these efforts even if it is boring at times. They need to utilize opportunities to speak to different audiences to become a better speaker. 
  3. Positive thinking: Children need to be taught the art of affirmation and visualization to overcome the hangover of any bad memory. They need to think about themselves as improving speaker.

Keval had some bad memories about his speaking in the past. Now, he knew the techniques, had practiced and learnt how to think positively. As the time for performance came in the evening, he spoke fluently in front of a large gathering. His chest pain had gone away without medication. 

Importance of Public Speaking

Importance of Public Speaking

Story of Ananya

I want to share a story of Ananya* (name changed). She is a grade 5 student. She is sincere in her studies and is in the top 5 in her class. One day, a senior teacher walked into the classroom. She wanted to select 2 students from Ananya’s class for the theme assembly. Ananya has been avoiding going on stage due to her stage fright (fear of public speaking). She did the same this time as well. She hid under the desk so that her teacher could not see her.

fear of public speaking, stage fright, shy child

The teacher looked around the class and selected 2 students and went away. Ananya was relieved.  

People like Ananya grow up with severe fear of public speaking. They are fine speaking with others one-to-one but are not comfortable speaking on the stage.

 

21st Century – Public Speaking is part of literacy

In the 20th century Ananya could still survive in her career. No more in the 21st century. TED calls this as Presentation Literacy and it is as critical as the 3Rs (Read, Write and Arithmatic) . There are several reports from Business Insider to Times of India which highlights the importance of public speaking in one’s career. It is part of the top 10 skills required by every adult.

The most important point is mentioned by Warren Buffet. He says that good public speaking is an asset which will give returns for 50-60 years. See this video.

 

Myths about public speaking

So why is that people do not pay attention to this important skill? It is due to some myths and those need to be corrected.

Myth 1: My child has learned language and knows how to speak. So, he will be able to do public speaking.

Clarification: Public Speaking and Speaking are not the same. Public speaking is an art which requires specific techniques. 

Myth 2: Public speaking is god gifted. Some people are born with abilities to speak to an audience.

Clarification: It is not god gifted. It is an acquired skill. The texture of voice can be god gifted and one cannot do much about it. But every person can develop this ability to speak in public.

Myth 3: There is no need to learn public speaking. It will develop naturally.

Clarification: Public Speaking does not develop naturally. If that was the case, all adults should be good public speakers and need not have any stage fear. This is an art, one needs to learn and practice it.

You may not have gone for any class, but your child would need to.

Myth 4: One can learn when one grows up.

Clarification: Behavioural skills are very difficult to be taught to adults. It takes time to develop. Therefore, one needs to start early. The big advantage of starting early is time available to try, learn and practice.

You can afford to lose in an elocution competition in primary school but not mess up a job interview due to poor public speaking.

Myth 5: My child goes to the best of CBSE/ICSE/IB schools. They are teaching it.

Clarification: Schools are not teaching public speaking. Yes, they do provide platforms for using public speaking.

But conducting recitation and elocution competition is not same as training in public speaking.

 

Conclusion

  • Public speaking is important
  • It can be developed
  • It needs to start early

It will develop only if you learn and apply what you learn. So, next time when the teacher comes to the class, Ananya should raise her hand for participating in the theme assembly. 

 

 

 

Speeches for Children

Speeches for Children

School has announced an elocution competition as part of the language week celebration. The child comes home and communicates this to the parents. Then the scary news - Participation is compulsory.

By dropping this bombshell, the child has passed on the monkey to the mothers back. Now, the mother starts asking questions on the parents whatsapp group.

  • What are the topics?
  • What is the time limit?
  • Is the speech required to be submitted in advance for clearance with the teacher?
  • Does anyone have ready speeches?
  • Which are the good websites to find speeches?

For these moms, here is the answer.

Given below are some speeches for children. Interestingly, these speeches are delivered by children at some or the other event. Let your child watch these videos and plan for his or her speech.

1. Robotics: This is the hottest topic right now.

 

2. Computer games-boon or curse: A question in the mind of all parents and may be some children as well. 

 

3. Healthy eating: Children want to eat pizza, pasta, burgers. Parents want children to eat fruits, vegetables etc.  

 

4. Social media: The world keeps on changing every year. But what has changed significantly in the last 2-3 years? Explosion of social media.     

 

5. Parable of a pencil: We can learn from thing around us. This is one such lesson from a pencil.  

Note for students:

Get ideas from whatever source you can, but then make your own speech. Make necessary changes, seek clarifications and then finalise it. Dont memorise the speech without understanding it. 

You should understand the speech that you are going to give

Enjoy the speaking experience. 

If you want to see more such speeches subscribe to Making Champs youtube channel.

 

Kids Speeches

Kids Speeches

One of my friends sent a video on whatsapp asking for feedback. It was a video of his daughter speaking on Swami Vivekananda. She had to speak in her school on his birth anniversary.  

First exposure for many kids to public speaking is through such elocution events in the school. This happens around the birth anniversaries of the national heroes or festivals or important days like independence day or republic days.

Children of age 6 to 8 years are too young to know or understand about these great personalities. But it is also a good exposure for them to know more about them. Parents should take out time and explain about these events or personalities so that children understand it rather than merely memorising. 

Given below are some such kids speeches. You will find kids speaking on personalities as well as events. 

1. Famous personality - Swami Vivekananda:     

  

2. Mahatma Gandhi: Your list is incomplete if you dont have a speech on the father of nation. 

 

3. Jawaharlal Nehru:  Chacha Nehru as he is popularly called as. His birthday is also celebrated as the Childrens Day in India.      

 

Moving from personalities to events. Most happy memories children have about their childhood are from vacations or festivals.

4. Favorite festival (Durga pooja):   A major festival which is celebrated in different ways in different parts of the country.   

 

5. Holi: The festival of colours. 

In all of these kids speeches, you will an idea of what is the matter and how it needs to be spoken.

Parents, give children the historical or mythological reason behind these celebrations or people.

This will make them more knowledgeable. Also, they will feel more involved in the process.

If you want to see more such speeches subscribe to Making Champs youtube channel.   

Short Speeches for kids

Short Speeches for kids

On Making Champs youtube channel one of the videos getting the maximum views was a short speech on Good manners. We were surprised to see this.

Then we realised that many schools are using the opportunity of inculcating good values and habits by making them speak on such topics.  

So here is the collection of short speeches for kids from our youtube channel. 

1. Good manners: Know about which good manners should kids have. 

 

2. How I keep my things: Hear how this kid helps his mother by keeping his things.     

 

3. My Mother: One of the first speeches kids are made to speak is about My Mother or My Father. Lets hear this.   

   

4. My Family: As kids go out from pre primary to the primary section, teacher makes them speak on this topic. It helps the teacher to understand more about the child and also eases the child into speaking / elocution situation by describing something that they are close to.      

5. My last birthday: As a child, birthday is the most awaited day. The party, the gifts and the pampering that goes along. Children love to describe their birthdays as it takes them again to those days and re-live the good memories.

 

 

Making children give short speeches on easy topics like this builds their communication skills. Specifically it helps in increasing their confidence and public speaking. 

 

If you want to see more such speeches subscribe to Making Champs youtube channel.