As adults, we are often far more equipped to deal with certain emotions because we can recognise what they are and potentially what the trigger could be for feeling them.
When you are 7 years old, the thought of standing on a stage and looking out to a sea of faces, whilst trying to remember all the words to ‘The Giants Accidents’ can seem very daunting.
As a parent I want to protect my child, and at the same time introduce situations that might feel a little scary and unfamiliar, so that somewhere along the line, she is able to build her skills and develop a toolkit full of resources to deal with certain situations.
I must admit that I also feel the nervous butterflies in my stomach as I sit and watch, willing her to do well. This is the role of a parent I am sure. Speak to any parent sat in the audience waiting to see their child stand on stage and perform, and I am confident the majority of them would agree with me.
So what has my daughter’s impending speech festival got to do with the work I do?
As a qualified Speech and Drama coach, and after many years of working with the speaking voice, I understand the importance of feeling comfortable ‘presenting’ yourself in front of an audience, and the earlier we can learn presentation skills, the easier it can be in later life. We will already know how to conquer our nerves, control our breathing, and all the other skills we need to feel comfortable and confident.
An amazing 76 % of people have a fear of public speaking, this comes second to the fear of death. This really does pose the question, why?
Ok so we know it isn’t exactly natural to put ourselves in a position of vulnerability by choice, and there has been lots of research around this. It is also more and more common in our job roles that we are expected to communicate effectively in either one to one or one to many situations.
So my question is, do you think that if we had started putting ourselves in the nerve-racking, slightly scary position that my 7-year-old finds herself in, would we, as adults feel more comfortable and confident in speaking publically?
Can we compare “presenting” to other activities, where we know that if you start young, often the skills are formed and can then be nurtured into adulthood?
Worth thinking about, especially if you are a parent who really isn’t keen on public speaking. Maybe starting your children off on the right foot at an early age may set them up with a vital skill set for their future?
On that note, I need to go and practise my daughter’s poem with her for tomorrow. Wish her luck!