While it is common for most adults to feel nervous about speaking in public at some time in their lives some children and teenagers fear speaking in front of others in all situations – from reading aloud, to answering questions to formal presentations or performing in front of the school.
Teachers expect children to speak to small groups or the whole class for a range of reasons. Activities could include a sports report, a book review, a debate.
The problem is a lack of confidence and a fear that others will judge them negatively.
“Everyone will think I am stupid” or “I will forget what I am going to say” or “no one will like my talk” or even “I will go red in the face and everyone will think I am a loser”
As children move into late primary school and early adolescence, they become more self-conscious about being seen by their peers to be lacking in confidence and anxious about speaking in class or outside of school.
Even at University level that fear has not gone away. I remember giving a talk at the University of Otago. As we did an impromptu session one students body language was screaming “do not pick me”.
On the 13th of September 2018 on Radio New Zealand Jim Mora hosted as discussion called “Feel the Fear”
There was a tweet by a 15 year old student that had 130,000 retweets and half a million likes. She said “Stop forcing students to present in front of the class, give them a choice not to”
When I told my youngest daughter, now in her thirties about this she admitted to me that she pulled a “sickie” so she could miss a day of school when she had to present to the class.
Statistics from an Association of American Colleges and University’s survey reveal that 80% of Company executives and 90% of hiring managers say that oral communication is vital when looking for jobs.
The discussion moved to David O’Brien the Public Relations Manager for Toastmasters New Zealand (District 72) and he was clear, the kids are being forced to present in class but they are not being taught how to do it.
Jim Mora then stated – There’s a job for someone. I thought you are right Jim – that IS a job for me.
Today I am offering that course to help our students become confident and competent speakers.