Part of our Counselor’s Corner series. Click to read other posts in the Counselor’s Corner.
Many people fear speaking in front of groups; children and adolescents are no different. Some common scenarios in which students might have to speak in front of a group include school plays, book reports, and class presentations. Even the act of answering a question in class can strike fear in some students’ hearts.
Here are some ways to ease the fear that children and adolescents (and adults) have of public speaking and help them feel less anxious about it in the future. Use these tips with students, or try them yourself.
Many people instantly become stressed at the thought of speaking in front of a group. Deep breathing and/or relaxation techniques such as these from Harvard Health can help. Everyone can benefit from practicing calming techniques before entering a stressful situation. Rehearse these techniques on your own before giving a presentation or delivering a report. You can also recite a personal mantra such as “You can do it” or “I will do my best” to yourself before you give a presentation.
The stress of presenting in front of a group can be great by itself, but it can be even more stressful if you’re not properly prepared. Determine everything you need to know, research, create, or do well before getting in front of a group. Organize your materials so you know exactly what you want to say or present. Being properly prepared will remove one more stressor from an already stressful situation.
When you think you’re finally ready to get in front of a group, begin to visualize your presentation or performance. Go through each step of the information or product you want to present. Visualizing the process may help you think of things you may have forgotten to prepare or that you may want to add. Picturing yourself successfully giving your presentation can give you an added confidence boost.
Practice not only makes perfect, but also makes you feel less stressed. Practice your lines, your report, or your presentation until you feel very comfortable. If possible, practice in front of another person or a group. Ask for feedback to help make your presentation better. You can also practice in the actual space or a similar location to familiarize yourself and troubleshoot any potential problems.
Once you have delivered your successful performance or presentation, celebrate! It’s stressful to present in front of a group. The more you do it and celebrate your success, the more you may grow to enjoy it.
How do you help students combat stage fright?
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Fighting Invisible Tigers: Stress Management for Teens by Earl Hipp; has excepts for focused breathing and relaxation.
What to do When You are Scared and Worried: A Guide for Kids, by James J. Crist, Ph.D.
Rx for Stress In a Jar®: Tips for Less Stress in Kids’ Lives
Too Stressed to Think? A Teen Guide to Staying Sane When Life Makes You Crazy, eBook Annie Fox, M.Ed., and Ruth Kirschner
Be the Boss of Your Stress: Self-Care for Kids by Timothy Culbert, M.D., and Rebecca Kajander C.P.N.P., M.P.H.
Stress Can Really Get on Your Nerves! by Trevor Romain and Elizabeth Verdick