A friend of mine, who happens to be a lawyer, told me years ago that if he had to do it all over again, he would have spent much more time in speech, debate, or drama classes. His reason was simple: lawyers who are well accustomed to speaking publicly are much more at ease in trial situations. Others who didn't work on their public speaking skills from an early age were more apt to push papers or have to settle cases out of court.
I've noticed over the years that those of us who are willing to get up and speak in front of an audience (either small or large) are more apt to be those in leadership positions. I've always been surprised at how many folks find speaking in front of a group intimidating.
For the reasons stated above, I have made public speaking a focal point in my homeschool curriculum. From the time my children were young, they were memorizing large portions of Scripture. By the time my son was about 7 years old, he had memorized the first 6 chapters of the book of Proverbs. He would compete in home school fairs in recitation competitions and eventually competed in speech contests. My daughters have, from the time they were quite young, performed in front of audiences of various sizes. The pieces I selected for them to present inspired and encouraged those in their audience. This was not so that mama and papa could show off our little darlings. No, it was practice for the leadership roles we wanted them to assume as they got older.
My advice to parents is to NOT underestimate the ability of their children to memorize lengthy pieces and present them dramatically -- in other words with an understanding of what they are reciting. Even if parents find they aren't capable themselves, they should NOT prejudge their own children's abilities. Take a stab at it and find out just how amazing your young children are.
If you need any suggestions, just email me and I'll supply you with a list of my favorite selections.