Unprepared speeches can be mastered easily

To achieve good marks during the examination, you must study hard. To perform well on the sport field, you must practice. Presenting an unprepared speech is no different. It requires planning and practice. Remember – you can be an excellent orator, but without a good speech you are like a rugby player without a ball.


Take the anxiety out of unprepared speaking

The idea of delivering an unprepared speech makes children nervous and anxious. Dr Colinda Linde, a psychologist from Johannesburg, wrote in the Sarie magazine of 19 October 2016, that an anxious child can suffer from stomach pain, headaches, and even have sleepless nights. We know that children are emotional and sensitive creatures, therefore it is parents’ job to motivate them and calm them down. Is this easier said than done? No, not really. To manage unprepared speaking, you must practice. Many parents and children start to hyperventilate when they need to tackle an unprepared speech. Here is some advice:


How can I as parent help?

Make sure that you reduce the stress by making unprepared speaking fun. Children learn quickly when boring tasks and assignments are changed into fun activities. When younger children experience it as a game, and older children as a competition, it will be easier to think of ideas. To prepare younger kids to think on their feet, you can use a picture and let them tell a story about what they see. For older children you can have a game of orator roulette. Throw a few topics in a box and allow the whole family to participate. Everyone must draw a topic from the box. Then you decide whether you want to argue FOR or AGAINST the topic. You have 5 minutes to quickly decide on a striking introduction, 3 arguments, and a compelling conclusion. Then everyone gets the opportunity to present the ‘framework’ of their speech. During the next practice, you must include examples and reasoning to prove every argument. During the next practice you will include sources which you can thumb-suck as proof for your arguments. This can be a lot of fun!


For those children who haven’t had any practice up to date, start by getting them to practice speaking their mind and thoughts. For example: get them to write down the positive and negative experiences of the day and why they were positive or negative. Remember to make it fun.


Parents and children also spend a lot of time driving to school. Use this time to brainstorm ideas. If you see clutter next to the road, let everybody in the car mention 3 drawbacks of littering. That teaches children to think quickly and logically about things.


To improve learners’ reasoning skills, they can reason with parents about ‘why I want more pocket money’ or ‘why load shedding is good or bad.’


Praising children or rewarding them is a good idea.


Advantages of unprepared speaking

  • It helps children speak their minds.
  • Writing a speech is a form of art, and to be able to structure their thoughts will boost their confidence and help them with the skill of writing essays. That will improve their language marks.
  • It helps with memorizing and concentration when children must study for exams and tests.
  • It also improves their general knowledge and reading skills.


You must decide whether you want to argue FOR or AGAINST the topic

In most cases during unprepared speaking the topic will be given. You must determine whether you want to argue FOR or AGAINST the topic. Then you must formulate 3 arguments to prove your opinion. This may sound complicated, but it is simple if you use the following basic guidelines.


Last year’s topic for the Limpopo province for Gr 6-7 unprepared speeches was: ‘Role models are important for children’. You must consider the topic and ask yourself: “Do I think role models are important for children, or not, and why?” If you decide that role models ARE important, your decision is to argue FOR the topic. Thus, your topic will be ‘Role models are definitely important for children.’


Now you must formulate 3 reasons. Your reasoning will be as follows:


Firstly – Role models teach children responsibility

Secondly – Role models teach children to work hard

Thirdly – Role models teach children good values


Plan the time which you are going to spend on writing the speech

Since you only have ONE HOUR to write the speech, do research using the given sources and prepare the presentation of the speech. It is important to plan the process. Use 45 minutes to write the speech and search through the sources. Practice this process regularly.


Parents, provide your child with a topic and set a time limit. Let them decide whether they want to argue FOR or AGAINST the topic. Let them do research and look for sources. This will help them learn to work within a time limit and improve their research skills. Don’t criticize the speaker’s abilities. Rather motivate them to improve.


Plan the structure of a good persuasive speech

First address the CHAIRPERSON.


INTRODUCTION – keep it short and purposeful. The introduction must be striking to catch the attention of the adjudicators.




Stay-at-home mothers look after their children.

Fathers go to work every day to provide for their families.

Teachers in the classrooms make a difference in children’s lives.

Role models are not always Hollywood stars, but rather ordinary people.


Argument 1 starts with FIRSTLY. After your have stated your argument, you must support it with a quotation from one of the given sources. Very important – when you indicate the source reference, you must mention the name of the source, the heading of the article, the date of the article, the person quoted as well as their title and field of expertise.


Sources will be provided for orators, usually in the form of magazines, newspapers, or photocopies of internet information. The articles will be related to the topic. What you must practice is scanning or search-reading quickly. That will assist you to quickly spot an appropriate quotation that will support your argument. Then you must state that you agree or disagree with the quotation. Your own opinion is also very important. You must also mention two examples to prove your argument, and then you conclude with a sentence that summarizes your argument.



Firstly – Role models teach children responsibility.

Phillip Rushton, a psychologist from Pretoria,

Said in the article “Role models influence”,

Posted on 2 Febr 2020 on”:

“Role models teach children responsibility when they act responsibly by not ignoring a red light.”

I agree.

Teachers teach us that hard work results in success, because what you sow you will reap.

If we neglect our schoolwork, we will perform poorly.

Parents set the example and teach us to do our chores diligently.

You will never see dad’s laptop and newspapers scattered on his bedroom floor!

Or that mom will leave the dirty dishes to pile up to the roof...! (Remember humour is always a winner)

(Conclusion): It is clear that good role models set examples to teach children to be responsible.


Now you follow the same route with the next two arguments.


Then you have a CONCLUSION for the speech which must connect with the introduction.



Mothers, Fathers and Teachers are just ordinary people to some of you.

But in fact, they are superheroes!

Children can have role models,

But rather choose ordinary people with extra-ordinary powers!


Petronell Vorster wrote articles on the website ‘’ about the process of writing persuasive speeches. She believes that when you use the correct structure, your speech won’t be a flop.


Be creative and use humour and current events

Humour, humour, humour – is the key to a successful speech.


As soon as you have stated your argument, you must mention one or two examples. Focus on your daily experiences and speak about things you know. Use humour. Your speech mustn’t be too long. So, concentrate on the structure and make sure that you use short sentences.


Good reading skills are your secret weapon

The more you read, the greater your general knowledge will become, and the better your examples will be. Read articles on all sorts of topics, jokes, fiction, poems, and proverbs. A love for reading must be cultivated from an early age. That will give you an advantage when it comes to writing speeches.


Melanie Hartgill, an educational psychologist, said on that an extensive vocabulary is very valuable. Dr Seuss said: “The more that you read, the more things you will know. The more that you learn, the more places you will go.”


Allow children to use technology

Besides reading books, magazines and newspapers, google can be used to search for articles and news reports. If you as a parent choose to allow this, let children practice under strict supervision. Children can also watch YouTube and TikTok videos. This knowledge can be helpful during creative writing.


Practice, practice, practice

  • Another way to practice is to encourage children to read articles and news reports to family members. The more they practice, the less nervous they will be on the day of the orators’ competition.
  • Practice in front of the mirror. That will help to monitor eye contact and facial expressions.
  • Practice the handling of your notes or cue cards to assure that it comes naturally.


Never give up

Delivering an unprepared speech for the first time is nerve wracking. But don’t allow this to discourage your child. Avoid anxiety and reassure your child through planning and practicing beforehand. That will boost their self-confidence to make a great impression on the adjudicators.


Remember that the unprepared speech counts 80% of the final mark for the ATKV competition. Therefore, children must practice and persevere.


Henry Ford once said: “Failure is just the opportunity to start all over again – this time with more wisdom.”



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