The Art of Public Speaking

Glossophobia? Ever hear of that? It is speech anxiety or the fear of public speaking, and many adults suffer from this condition. According to some oft-cited studies and recent surveys, the fear of public speaking is still ranked higher than the fear of death, fire, and the dark. For many, the idea of speaking in front of others can trigger anxiety reactions characterized by things such as: increased heart rates, shaking, perspiration, and shortness of breath. This would mean the act of public speaking is equated to danger with your body warning you to flee, get away. According to Breaking Down Barriers, speaking anxiety begins to develop in childhood but gets worse as we age. The key is to teach children the art of public speaking, address the fears while they are new, and give them the opportunity to experience non-threatening public speaking.

Why is this important?
The fear of public speaking can cause loss to a person in several ways. The chance to be hired for a job is related to interviews, the ability the sell yourself, answer questions, and usually to work well with others. College admission is tied to some of the same. Without these skills, your income can suffer, your chance to complete college and improve your earnings diminishes, and you can keep yourself from advancing in other situations such as committees or boards. It impacts your ability to speak up and state your opinion or share facts in meetings. Not being able to stand up for yourself can further damage your confidence and minimizes your feelings of worthiness and success

How Can 4-H Help?
The 4-H Youth Development program is experiential in nature; it’s about learning by doing. Within this style, youth are actively involved in their own learning and two of the steps, SHARE and REFLECT, are opportunities for youth to practice public speaking. In the share stage, youth provide a summary of what they experienced and learned in the form of demonstration or illustrated talk. For those in performing arts, they may share an act or performance. In the reflect stage, they speak to others about their knowledge gained and how it can be further applied in life and in succeeding. By creating opportunities year after year for children to speak in front of their peers in a non-threatening, speak-to-succeed way, they begin the process of overcoming this anxiety. Throughout the year, volunteer leaders with whom the youth has trust and who has created a safe environment for their members, teach the steps to successful speaking, combatting the negative emotional reactions and thereby lessening the negative physical reactions.


Posted: February 9, 2018

Category: 4-H & Youth, Curriculum

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