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Yellow Lantern Public Speaking for Kids

brightening pathways through public speaking for kids  

The world's brightest public speaking blog! Collaboratively written by our sparkly collection of Yellow Lantern youth educators from all over Australia. Hold onto your lecterns folks, public speaking advice is about to get exciting!

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A Yellow Lantern Facilitator SHINES BRIGHT!

Posted by Yellow Lantern on July 21, 2014 at 10:00 AM Comments comments (4)

By Adrian Williams-Brett
Yellow Lantern Facilitator

I have just facilitated my first eight-week Yellow Lantern Public Speaking course at Ocean Shores Public School in the Northern Rivers of N.S.W. As I knew it would be, the experience was wonderfully rewarding, both for the students and for me. The students I was working with were the sixteen members of the school parliament - students with additional responsibilities in the school. They were a diverse and sparky group.


The school was running the course as part of their ‘creative arts program’. This program normally allows students to elect a subject – from drumming to capoeira, craft activities etc. My students had been told that as members of parliament they had to do the Yellow Lantern course and I don’t think they were all entirely happy about the prospect. Public speaking over Brazilian martial arts? No way! But the course took them by surprise, as it is designed to do, and well before the end of the first session I felt I had them all onside.


What strikes me about the Yellow Lantern training is that it predicts the objections a child is likely to have towards public speaking and then goes straight in and deals with those objections: the fear of making mistakes, the fear of talking to strangers, the fear of having nothing to say. These fears are immediately validated and the kids are empowered with simple yet powerful techniques for dealing with them. At the same time they are validated in being who they really are and encouraged to bring more of themselves to what they do. Indeed it is this aspect that I experienced as being the most important in bringing out the confident public speaker within them.


In the Yellow Lantern course they are asked right at the beginning to set their own goals and these goals are treasured, actually put in a treasure chest before their very eyes. Right from the word go they are not working to someone else’s agenda but being asked to form their own. This allows them to take a deeper level of responsibility for their own learning and they feel that and respond to it. It also means that the ‘buzz’ they get from the final sharing of their speech is all theirs. They set their goals, they choose their topic, they write their speech, they present it in their own style and they are the ones to reflect on how far they came towards meeting their own expectations of themselves. Without exception the children in my group felt they had exceeded their expectations and were really happy with what they were able to achieve.


There is another aspect of learning from this course that goes way beyond just the art of public speaking. There were various students who were participating in sport competitions and dance performances over the term I was working with them and they were all using the Yellow Lantern Kung Fu as a way of focusing and energizing before those events. They have learned that their energy and confidence level is up to them, not in an abstract, theoretical way but in a very concrete way. They learnt to breathe and do certain movements and then boom! They were ready for the challenges they were facing inside and outside the classroom. It was almost magical. For the boy who came into our last session having just broken the all-time school high-jump record it certainly was!


One girl who burst into tears with terror when she was to perform her speech for the first time in the class-room practice session ended up writing this: “I enjoyed the course and now I like public speaking. I don’t feel scared or nervous when I speak. After my speech I felt good and I enjoyed it and can’t wait to speak again”


What more could I ask? I also can’t wait to teach the course again and give this material to more children but that will have to wait until next term.


Interview with 6th grade student: Aisha Yahiat

Posted by Nathalie on July 8, 2014 at 3:30 AM Comments comments (1)

What were your expectations before going into the Yellow Lantern course?

My expectations were that it would be very strict and would try and teach me how to be better at speaking to the public.

What surprised you about it?

Well Yellow Lantern showed me how to work at my own pace in a friendly environment and be completely ok with who I am. Yellow Lantern didn't force me into anything. My expectations were completely wrong! I'm so happy with the course.

What did you learn the most about in the course?

I learned that public speaking isn't about perfection or making no mistakes. I learned that confidence isn't something that can be taught, but it's something that you can find in yourself when you accept who you are.

How is Yellow Lantern still helping you today?

Although I finished the course last year, I have so much more confidence than ever before! And not only that, I've been offered to do things like photo shoots and attend leadership camps. Yellow Lantern has inspired me to not be afraid to stand up for what I believe in. I feel like I have the confidence boost that I needed especially now that I am in high school.


A Parent's Proof is in the Pudding

Posted by Nathalie on July 7, 2014 at 7:40 AM Comments comments (0)

Article Writen for Hillscene 'zine, July 2014
By Sarah Hitchings O'Connor

Last week, I was lucky enough to watch a whole Grade 6 class transform. My son had been doing a public speaking course through his school called Yellow Lantern. It is an innovative course that brings even the shyest child out of their shell. My Bill wasn’t one of the shy ones, but on graduation night he forgot to bring his speech. He knew if off by heart but with an audience in front of him he froze. Amazingly he handled it with a grace I had never seen before. Instead of bursting in to tears he said “give me a moment” before going behind a partition to pull himself together. Luckily his dad went to the rescue and had his speech there by the end of the night. Bill got up, did the deep breathing exercises he had practiced in the course, and delivered his speech like a champion.

The focus for all the kids isn’t about not making mistakes or being the most composed, it’s about being your true self to the best of your ability. When the onus is taken off of the performance itself the children just shine. I’m not the only one who sees the fantastic benefits in such a program. Rachel, whose daughter Aisha did the course last year, told me. “My daughter was always a pretty confident public speaker so I wasn't sure what she would get out of the course other than just reinforcement of what she already knew. I was so wrong. She learnt a new level of empowerment and self-belief that translates well beyond the scope of public speaking. It has put her in such good stead as she navigates the challenges of high school”.

I spoke with Nathalie Brewer, Director of Yellow Lantern about the reasons she has devised this much needed program. “I created Yellow Lantern because I saw a need for an alternative to traditional and outdated public speaking programs”. “Public Speaking coaching for kids should be about self-acceptance and belief in the self, not merely tools and techniques. The truth is, piling a heap of rules on a young speaker, such as body posture, hand movements and the worst one of all "never say um" is in my experience counter productive, and in some cases damaging”.

“The Yellow Lantern approach is different. We teach kids how to express from their heart, make mistakes, breath powerfully and be themselves in front of an audience. However that looks. The results are so much more than the 'ability to give a good speech'”.

Tanya Cooke, principal at Menzies Creek Primary School shared her insight into the Yellow Lantern program with me. ‘We are delighted with the Yellow Lantern Course as it commences from a basis of developing huge self-belief within each child which then allows them to become confident public speakers. Turning anxiety into excitement and various other strategies appeals to the students and engages them in a process that will positively contribute to their future life.'

What are Nathalie’s goals for the future of Yellow Lantern? “From our humble beginnings at Menzies Creek Primary 3 years ago, the Yellow Lantern approach to public speaking is gaining traction in schools across Melbourne and now in NSW and QLD. Our trained facilitators are vibrant educators who come from counselling and life coaching backgrounds. We offer Yellow Lantern programs in schools and also in private coaching sessions for locally organised peer groups”.

For me, the proof is in the pudding so to speak. Yellow Lantern caters to children of all abilities and is a wonderful program for giving kids self-confidence and inner happiness.  I have seen children too scared to get up at assembly, doing their speeches proudly and with a smile on their faces. What more could you ask for?

Are you addicted to speech reading?

Posted by Nathalie on May 14, 2014 at 5:10 PM Comments comments (1)

If you are someone who can't get away from reading your notes whilst you are public speaking, here are some GREAT tips for you.


1. Memorise your opening sentence

At the very least, memorise your opening. It is important to start strong. Here is a great formula:

a) Open with a fact, quote or statement.

b) Introduce yourself

c) State what you are going to talk about

This is an example from a speech I gave to Grade 6 students last week:

"Some of the best moments of your life happened when you were NOT trying to be the best! My name is Nathalie and I am here today to talk about why we should all stop trying to be perfect public speakers"


2. Act it till you make it!

After you have delivered your strong opening and you return to reading your notes, try to really put yourself into the words. Make it your own. Animate yourself! Pretend you are on stage and reading from a script. But you are not trying to act like anyone else, you are acting like you...the main character!

HOW? Write down the top three things that make your character YOU...if this is a bit tricky, ask a good friend to tell you. For example, if your friend says you are fun, relaxed and cheerful, then make sure you feel like those things whilst speaking. If you can't feel it, then act as though you do. This will take some drama skills, but it is important if you want to make your script come alive. Practice your speech to the mirror and imagine yourself as the 'best YOU' you could possible be. After you do this the first time, you wont need to act anymore, it will just come naturally. Just have fun!


3. Kill the robot

If you find that your voice is starting to sound like a robot this is because you have not put enough of YOU into your speech. You have probably written an "essay type" speech. You know, the ones that look good on paper, but not so natural when you speak it. Remember, public speaking is supposed to be natural. It is not a book reading! It is important that your words come out sounding like something you would actually say in your every day life.This means, you probably have to go over your speech and make it more conversational. Write in things that you would actually say, not just stuff you got off the internet or out of a book! I recommend including personal ideas and comments.

This is a great example from a Yellow Lantern graduation speech last year:

"Bee's are one of the most interesting species of insect in the world. Did you know that honey bees have hair on their eyes? How crazy is that?"

 Some final advice? if you are a 'speech reader' that's totally fine. But you have an extra responsibility to make your speech as natural as possible. By following the above tips, I guarantee you will achieve a more natural speech which will leave you feeling like a star. In the mean time, I recommend practicing short, 1-minute speeches in front of your family without reading notes. Talk about something you already know about. You will be surprised at the outcome! Often, we only need one good experience of giving a speech without notes to realise that we can do it. It is liberating. And anyway, who cares if you stuff up right? As long as you do it master-fully!

If you want to get access to a 50minute lesson plan where you can put these tips into practice, then click here and we will send it out to you.


How to make masterfull public speaking mistakes!

Posted by Nathalie on May 14, 2014 at 3:20 PM Comments comments (2)

The most common mistake we make when public speaking is to think that we have to be perfect, confident or clever. The truth is, the more imperfect you are the more interesting you are! That's right, your heard me. My number one tip for public speakers is to go right ahead and stuff up. Forget your words, drop your notes, have a sneeze attack. Just do whatever happens in the moment. But for goodness sake, just do it with style!

The three most common public speaking stuff ups are:

1. Forgetting what you were going to say

2. Becoming a robot (where you just read from your notes and don't connect withyour audience)*

3. Freezing up

Now here is the key...don't try and AVOID any of the above stuff up's. If you try and avoid them, you will just feel more pressure.


I will never forget a book reading I once attended at my local library. The reader started off strong, casual and relaxed. It was delightful. But then he forgot where he was on the page. His face went bright red as he fumbled to find his spot. He finally found it and carried on. But the rest of his reading was robotic, nervous and too fast. The audience felt awkward and nevous that he would make another mistake. Sound familiar?

Now let's re-imagine this scenario. Imagine if he forgot where he was on the page. Then took a brief moment to find his place before casually mentioning "aaah here we are!" and then carrying on. The audience would be impressed that he is so relaxed. The rest of the reading would be even more awesome because the audience now trusts he is capable of making masterful mistakes. This means they don't have to worry about him stuffing up again, in fact they may even look forward to it. They can just enjoy the experience!

One of the best times I have ever had whilst public speaking was to a large group of high school students. I completely forgot what I was going to say next. Rather than freezing up and feeling embarrassed, I did the exact opposite. I simply said "I have no idea what I was about to say, can anyone here guess where I was going with that?" Everyone in the room laughed. One girl from the second row put up her hand and gave me a suggestion. It was a great moment. I was OK with stuffing up, so everyone else was too! In fact it made me even more interesting (and cool).

See? You just gotta know how to be masterfull! EVERYONE makes mistakes, even the most accomplished speakers. In fact, the most interesting speakers are the ones who make lots of mistakes but you don’t realise or you just don’t care. WHY? Because they don’t care!

These days, I try to make at least 3 masterful mistakes every time I speak. I have come to believe that mistake building is character building. It is the fastest way to show people who you truly are and build trust with an audience.

I will leave you with this thought....the ONLY reason people are afraid of making mistakes is because they have not yet learnt to trust themselves. Some people have a false belief that people will only like them if they are perfect. In fact, the opposite is true. People love you more if you are imperfect, unashamed and unapologetically you! So the next time you are public speaking, let loose a little and be ok with whatever happens in the moment.


Yellow Lantern has a strong emphasis on masterful mistake building and relaxation skills. Do yourself a favour, before doing ANY public speaking training, check that the training company isn't just teaching basic tools and techniques of public speaking. Insure they are focussed on a whole person appraoch. This will save you from the perfection epidemic; a condition that will set you back years in your public speaking ability :mad:

If you want a free 50minute lesson plan on how to put these tips into practice click here