Yes, public speaking can be learned at any age. It’s an area of learning which does not have any obstacles in its way to acquiring it, especially not age. It is an art that anyone can possess at any time in their lives. Whether you are a kid, teenager or an adult, it should really not matter for you to speak in front of the public, confidently.
It is a fact that public speaking plays a significant role in influencing and enticing the audience. It is a way that could bring a change and difference in the lives of people and could prove to be elevating positively.
If you have ever been asked about delivering a speech in front of a crowd, you might have been inquisitive about the answers to a few questions like, What are the merits or significance of public speaking? Can it be mastered at any age? These questions, if pondered upon, are quite rational, although they seem arbitrary and rhetorical, initially.
If you are concerned about your public speaking abilities and want to enhance them to be a motivating and influential orator, nevertheless, of your age (as it is just a number), you have put your fingers on the right article. So, READ ON.
Mastering Public Speaking at Different stages of Life
If people from disparate age groups can speak in front of a large crowd, it would allow the blend of perspectives and viewpoints and the audience would have a variety of them to comprehend a subject matter. For instance, a younger person ought to speak from their generation’s point of view whereas a middle-aged or adult person should speak from their experiences and events of life.
Following are some benefits and significance of learning public speaking or becoming a good orator in different stages of life.
1. The Youth Period or Young Age
Mastering the art of public speaking at a young age plays a crucial role in changing one’s life, certainly elevating it positively. Hence, it is better to acquire the skill in this phase of life. A young speaker has more ability and capacity to influence and persuade the audience as they are well acquainted with the problems and developments of the world, especially technology, therefore they come up with peculiar yet practical resolutions. A young orator who can elucidate his feelings and thoughts proficiently is certainly better at managing and building connections and dealing with a colossal system of associations.
A great example of a confident young speaker with unique verbal abilities and child prodigy is Adora Svitak, who in her TED talk (What adults can learn from kids) blew the minds of the audience with her eloquence.
Other examples of well-known young public speakers:
- Malala Yousafzai
- Greta Thunberg
- Yara Shahidi
- Marley Dias
- Jaylen Arnold
- Thomas Suarez
- Richard Turere
- Jack Andraka
- Taylor Wilson
- Memory Banda
Benefits of being a Public Speaker at a Young Age
(i) Development of Communication abilities
Public speaking has a strong link to the development of communication abilities. It is important to communicate in order to express your ideas or thoughts to others. Children who are introverts or who have problems related to their speech, like stuttering or stammering, often are looked at as vulnerable by society. However, if they overcome it then no one can ever stop them from being an orator.
For example, Joe Biden, the President of the USA, actually suffered with speech disorder as a child. In a letter to himself, he wrote, “Dear Joe, You’re only 12. Your stutter is debilitating. It embarrasses you and the bullies are vicious.”
(ii) Increased Self-assurance
Being able to communicate in front of a large audience, a child might think worthy of himself. It would certainly enable the child to believe in himself by conveying something useful and significant to the world, consequently, boosting the level of confidence in him and making him a better individual.
(iii) Enhance Organisation skills
Children are often bereft of planning and organising their things or tasks as they are completed by their parents on their behalf. However, public speaking can give them an opportunity to experience and develop these skills. A good public speaker always plans, outlines and prepares his speech. The art of public speaking would encourage children to manage and cope up with their things on their own and make them ready for their future. It would also increase productivity in both their personal and professional lives.
(iv) Progression of Persuasion skills
“Speech is power: speech is to persuade, to convert, to compel”Ralph Waldo Emerson
Persuasion is an art which is of imperative need during this time. It is required not only in everyday matters but conversely, also in achieving the goals of professional life. Hence, teaching your children public speaking from a very young age would certainly be beneficial in developing persuasive skills in them. As a renowned Greek philosopher, Aristotle stated,
“Public speaking is the faculty of observing in any given case the means of persuasion”.
(v) Become Creative and Critical thinkers
The skill of speaking in front of others brings with it the necessity to contemplate in a creative and critical way. A good public speaker prepares and selects the content for the topic of presentation quite meticulously. It should be creative and engaging for the audience so that they can also partake in the discussion. It involves the concept of improvisation which can be useful in making children more expressive and able to think critically. If they possess these skills in early stages of their life, then it would definitely have a favourable impact on both their personality and quality of life.
How can children acquire public speaking
(i) TED talks
Motivating your children to watch TED talks would certainly help in improving their public speaking skills. It is a platform with an infinite number of speeches from different people on an uncountable number of topics. Allow your child to watch a talk of his interest and make notes on the same which would give them new ideas and perspectives. You could also make them watch TED talks of other kids which would inspire and encourage them to be an orator themselves.
(ii) Engaging activities
Children are often intrigued by fun games and activities. This could be a great resource for developing public speaking skills in them. You can also participate in the activities with them to keep them motivated and engaged. Some of the games and activities that can be used are:
- The Guessing game
- The Imaginary game
- The Woot game
- Tongue Twisters
- The Road game
- Word Spin
- Stories with cards
- Solving Puzzles
- Interview with an expert
(iii) Making videos
Encourage your child to create videos of themselves while giving a speech or presentation. It would make them used to the camera, hence, make them ready to face the audience with confidence. Moreover, it would also help them in improvising their body postures, hand movements, eye contact and voice modulation, which are a significant part of public speaking.
(iv) Books and Movies
There are a number of movies and books which would help in enhancing the child’s vocabulary and creativity. It would not only make them comfortable and confident in the language but conversely, help them to speak and engage a large audience. Some examples are:
- Kid President
- Rocket Science
- My Fair Lady
- The King’s Speech
- Larry Crowne
- Arthur Meets the President
- Clark the Shark and the Big Book Report
- Ruby Lee and the Very Big Deal
- Mr. Wayne’s Masterpiece
- Class Act
(v) Coaching for Public Speaking
If you want your child to hold expertise in public speaking then the best and most suitable option is to enrol them in coaching classes, where they would be guided and supported by professional trainers. There are several programs and events held for public speaking, both physically and virtually, especially for children. Make the best use of these opportunities to elevate your child in all areas of life.
Check out this article for more insights:
10 benefits of public speaking for kids (How to teach them)
2. The Adulthood
A middle-aged or adult person who expresses themselves adeptly as an orator, usually speaks from their experiences and happenings in life. They have the advantage of persuading their audience as they possess more intellectual qualities and are better at leading.
For instance, Warren Buffett is the best example of an adult orator who conquered his fear of public speaking at a young age. In his biography, “The Snowball: Warren Buffett and the Business of Life”, he says, “You can’t believe what I was like if I had to give a talk… I would throw up.”
Some other examples of good public speakers in this category include:
- Emma Watson
- Paige Omartian
- Les Brown
- Robin Sharma
- Tony Robbins
- Chris Gardner
- Suze Orman
- Jack Canfield
- Iyanla Vanzant
Merits of being a Public Speaker during Adulthood
Public speaking is an integral part of one’s life. It could be required while conducting a meeting, sharing perspectives in a group discussion in class, or even simply conversing with friends. Furthermore, it holds an extensive amount of importance in achieving goals, which could be to become an inspirational orator, play a part in political debates or speeches, or merely, throw your knowledge or ideas in front of the audience with persuasiveness.
Whatever may be the reason or aim, you ought to try to master the art of public speaking keeping in mind the following few aspects of substance.
(i) Career development
When you possess the ability to speak in public, you stand out as an individual, different from others which certainly can result in you becoming a better leader for your team. It would make others comfortable with you which would bring a surge in the sharing of ideas and perspectives, consequently, working together as a group. Moreover, it would help you in acing your job interviews and conferences with confidence and high morale.
Go through this article for more useful insights:
10 reasons why effective communication is essential in the workplace
(ii) Engage in new social relationships
Your role as a good public speaker does not end with delivering your speech or presentation confidently. The real job begins in the aftermath wherein the audience comes and interacts with you. It is a great way to build new connections while conversing with your listeners as some might have disparate opinions compared to you which could lead to a discussion that further could make you more acquainted with them. On the other hand, you could also converse with other speakers and discuss each other’s topics and viewpoints which would result in strengthening your professional network.
(iii) Personal growth
Public speaking is a prominent factor in increasing the level of confidence in yourself, on account of which, you overcome and overpower your fear of speaking in front of a crowd and deal with the issue of stage fright. To boost your confidence, you could start by speaking in petite groups and moving on to larger ones, which would also help in conquering your hesitation while talking to others on a daily basis. For example, in class or a meeting.
Furthermore, it would be beneficial in enhancing your communication and critical thinking skills. To engage, entertain, influence and motivate your listeners, it is quite important to have impressive and striking content with suitable examples that lead to the development of your critical thinking skills. Also, when you write your speech to deliver the message to the audience with the right lexicons, your communication skills evolve and you flourish in all aspects of your life.
(iv) Enhance leadership skills
“To be seen as a leader, you need to move people with your words.”Manoj Vasudevan (Toastmasters World Champion of Public Speaking, 2017)
If you excel in public speaking, you definitely can become a better leader which will provide you with a large number of opportunities, whether in school, your professional life or your personal life. Being a leader also has its perks and can always keep in an advantaged side. For example, some of the great leaders who are also great orators include Barack Obama, Winston Churchill, Jawaharlal Nehru, Shashi Tharoor and many others.
Read this article for more information:
15 greatest public speakers of all time
(v) Make a real difference
If you want to influence others and bring a change of thoughts in the minds of the people about a specific matter, public speaking is the right and only way to do it. When you speak to deliver the message to a large audience, it helps you in making a noticeable impact, rather than just using the means of social media or written communication.
“Do I wish that the Christian would become Hindu? God forbid. Do I wish that the Hindu or Buddhist would become Christian? God forbid. The seed is put in the ground, and earth and air and water are placed around it. Does the seed become the earth, or the air, or the water? No. It becomes a plant, it develops after the law of its own growth, assimilates the air, the earth, and the water, converts them into plant substance, and grows into a plant. Similar is the case with religion. The Christian is not to become a Hindu or a Buddhist, nor a Hindu or a Buddhist to become a Christian. But each must assimilate the spirit of the others and yet preserve his individuality and grow according to his own law of growth.”Swami Vivakananda (In his speech in World Parliament of Religions in Chicago)
“Here is a mantra, a short one, that I give you. You may imprint it on your hearts and let every breath of yours give expression to it. The mantra is : ‘Do or Die’. We shall either free India or die in the attempt; we shall not live to see the perpetuation of our slavery. Every true Congressman or woman will join the struggle with an inflexible determination not to remain alive to see the country in bondage and slavery. Let that be your pledge.”Mahatma Gandhi (In his speech delivered on the Quit India Movement)
Tips to be a Better Public Speaker
Effective public speaking can be mastered quite easily if you keep in mind the following techniques and apply them while giving a speech or presentation.
- If you feel nervous or anxious, it is not a big deal. Just remember to keep speaking which will not let the audience know about your anxiousness.
- Always interact with the listeners and make them a priority.
- Plan your speech in a way that will catch the audience’s attention as soon as you begin.
- Reading the whole speech is a big NO. Always make a structure of the points you would speak.
- Before the big event, practice your speech, maybe in front of a mirror, so that you get used to the words and points.
- Make eye contact with every single person in the audience.
- Maintain a good posture with sufficient hand movements as it would showcase your personality.
- Speak in a way that does not look unnatural and fake.