Michelle Bowden

Smash your Public Speaking in Primary School!

Many of the adults that join me for my two-day Persuasive Presentation Skills Masterclass say to me, “Michelle, this course has been awesome, and it’s going to help me accelerate my career. Importantly, though, I’m excited to take the skills you’ve taught me, Michelle, home to my family. I’m going to teach my kids so that they can be good at public speaking from a young age and have that confidence that you would love to have as an adult when you’re speaking up in meetings.” I just really love it when people send me photos and little videos of their children demonstrating the skills that I’ve taught their father or their mother in a course, and this child is doing really well and excelling in their public speaking. I’m excited for those children’s futures.


Today, I’m excited to share my top three tips for doing really well in your public speaking in primary school.

1. Use an ice breaker. An icebreaker is a quick story, hook, statistic, something that’s really interesting that’s going to grab the audience’s attention and make them think, “Wow, this kid’s a good public speaker.” Don’t start your speech with, “Good morning, class. My name’s Michelle Bowden, and today I’m going to talk with you about the environment.” That’s a terrible way of starting. Don’t do that. Instead, a hook, some interesting fact to do with the environment, then tell your name and then say, “Let’s talk about the environment.” So, that’s your icebreaker. That’s going to set you apart from everyone else in the class.


2. Learn that speech. Learn it by heart. In primary school, the longest speech that you’re ever going to have to do is five minutes. And anyone can cope with learning a five-minute speech. Kindergarten, they’re asked to learn a one-minute speech and five-year-olds can cope with that too, in my experience. I have three children who also did very well in their public speaking in primary school. So, learn that speech. And importantly, it’s not so that you can show that you can learn a speech. Actually, it’s so that you can do direct connected eye contact. If you know the speech, then that gives you the permission and the power and the confidence to look people right in the white of their eye. And that’s number two.


3. Rehearsed gesture. A rehearsed gesture is where you put your arm way up in the air, and you demonstrate physically the point that you’re trying to make. An easy way of doing a rehearsed gesture is when you count. So you could say, “There are three things that we’re going to talk through today.” And then you gesture, “one, two, three,” with your fingers up in the air. The teacher’s going to tick that little box on the form that they’re using to rate you and to score you, and you’re going to stand out well ahead from the rest. If you’re saying that something’s important or it’s big, then you would put your arms right up in the air and make sure that your arms are big. So at least one rehearsed gesture in a primary school speech is an exciting addition that’s going to set you apart.


There you go, my three tips for your children or children that you know. Number one, use an ice breaker to hook your audience’s attention. Number two, make sure you demonstrate direct connected eye contact. And you won’t do that unless you know the speech without the cards. And number three, do at least one big, rehearsed gesture.


As an aside, if your child does learn to do their speech without the palm cards, still teach them to take the palm cards with them to class. My children over the years were penalized when the teacher thought that they hadn’t prepared, and they were speaking off the cuff, because they didn’t need the cards in their hand. So still take the cards, have them in your hand, but just don’t look at them. That’s my tip. So good luck with your public speaking in primary school.


Happy presenting!

© Michelle Bowden 2021.  Michelle Bowden is an authority on presentation & persuasion in business. Michelle is a CSP (the highest designation for speakers in the world), co-Creator of the Persuasion Smart Profile (a world-first psychometric indicator that tests your persuasiveness at work), best-selling internationally published author (Wiley), and a regular commentator in print, radio and online media. www.michellebowden.com.au

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