Speaking publicly is simply another form of communication, which students do every day. In eighth grade, though, students often start making formal speeches. Parents have a lot of options for helping their eighth-grade child get ready for public speaking. Work with and support your eighth-grader from the planning stage to the delivery to help her become an effective public speaker.
You can help your eighth grade child evaluate whether the purpose of the speech is to inform, persuade, entertain or mark a special occasion. For instance, many eighth graders give middle school graduation speeches, an example of a special occasion speech. If they are running for a class office, their purpose is to persuade the audience to vote for them. You can also help your child determine how formal the speech is and tailor their language accordingly.
"Speech for Effective Communication," a text used in eighth grade curricula, recommends starting by generating topic ideas. You can ask your child to think of areas of interest or look in magazines, newspapers, textbooks or other nonfiction books for ideas. You can help him start with a general subject and keep narrowing the topic until it is manageable within the confines of the speech. For example, he might start with hobbies, narrow that to baseball cards, narrow that to collecting and displaying baseball cards and finish with the best ways to display prize cards as his speech topic.
Stage fright stops many people from speaking publicly. However, you can help your eighth grader do a lot to avoid it. She should practice many times alone, in front of a mirror, in front of a camera and eventually in front of friends or family members. Being well-rehearsed induces confidence. Writing points on note cards to use during the speech reduces her anxiety of forgetting what to say. You can experiment with your child to find the most effective ways for her to relax, such as deep breathing and visualization.
Effective speakers stand straight and confident, make eye contact with everyone in the room and speak loud enough for everyone to hear. Rehearsing with your eighth grader can help him master these basic skills. To make his speech truly memorable, Stephen D. Boyd, a Certified Speaking Professional, recommends including a "wow" factor in the speech. This might be a startling fact, a dramatic point, an anecdote or a striking visual; help your child experiment with these to find which works best with her speech. Listen to your child’s delivery and offer supportive, but constructive advice.
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