I’m not sure about you, but when I was in school, I trembled whenever the teacher called on me to come to the front and speak. In university, it was even worse on stage in front of hundreds of students and professors! Of course, not every kid is shy, and the good news is you can teach kids public speaking at almost any age!

A speech doesn’t have to be thirty minutes long. For young beginners, a speech of thirty seconds to one minute should be more than enough to practice. You won't have as many details, but you build up knowledge and have fun with it. My son is lucky because I have been learning about making speeches and leadership since 2013. I’m a Toastmaster, DTM, and have made hundreds of speeches on my journey.

As a father who loves to make speeches now, I can help my son explore public speaking. This idea came to me while attending a homeschooling event, so I’ll share how we are doing it!

Speech might not be something that you usually include in your curriculum. But it’s possible to incorporate it with the rest of your lessons. Luckily, we have a purpose to do it this month. My son joined a local speech contest a fellow Toastmasters member has put together just for kids. His target is a five- to seven-minute speech.

The first step is to select an interesting topic for the audience and your child! Our topic is Legos—my son can easily talk about Legos for hours. For a beginner, it’s best to stick to something familiar. A topic your child knows about may reduce any stress they might have.

Robert's son with a Lego tower

Robert's son loves Legos

Next, we discuss the topic and select three points we’d like to make that support the message of the speech. I find this is key to helping your child organize their thoughts. If they can remember the three main points, the speech will flow more smoothly. (Practice the speech with your child enough that they don’t need to read it. At first, they can use notes for sure. But gradually, you’ll notice they won’t need them.)

Once you have the details of the three points to make, you can work out the opening and conclusion. Your opening is a critical part of your speech. Make it attention-getting and draw the crowd in right away. You may use props and start with a question.

My son will open with something like, “Do you know what the most popular toy in the world is?” He will be holding a mundane toy and then throw it over his shoulder before revealing a Lego set he built. “Legos are the most popular toys in the world, and I’m going to tell you why I love them!” We expect to get some laughs and grab the audience’s attention and interest.

Then he will develop the three points with more details to explain and support the message. Here you may also think that each one of these points is a mini-speech: opening, body, and closing. Once you think of the structure like this you can put a speech together with ease.

The final section of the speech is the closing. My son will summarize the points, finish with a call to action, and remind the audience why they should care about the topic.

It all sounds so simple, right? And it is, but you must practice and practice and practice . . . we started two months ago. We also started to practice each section separately: the introduction, three body sections, and the conclusion.

A final piece of advice for practice is to use your smartphone or tablet to record each session. Then your child can see where they may need to improve. If they’re mature enough, they can use these devices themselves to practice anywhere. If they are shy, do it indoors. If they are comfortable, do it in front of family or friends. And for a more advanced session, go to a local park and practice the speech outdoors. That’s how we do it in our speech club!  That helps you speak in front of strangers and builds up confidence doing public speaking. But wherever you choose, have fun making speeches with your homeschooler!