Three tips for teaching public speaking

by | Apr 12, 2019 | 21st Century Skills

You can see it coming.  They are slumped down in their chairs, staring at their desk, trying to make themselves as small and inconspicuous as possible.  Anything to avoid being called upon. Then you call their name and they slowly make their way to the front of the classroom, a bead of sweat running down the back of their neck.  Lacking self-assurance, they stumble their way through the presentation and then sit back down again as quickly as possible.

Public speaking does not to be so nerve-racking and, with the right training, it isn’t.  Better than that, it helps them both in and out of school. The research is clear: when students speak thoughtfully and deliberately about a complex yet focused idea, their thinking is expanded. This experiential learning has benefits for every class they will take, for every job they will hold, and in most aspects of their lives.

Aside from being a valuable life skill, being able to speak confidently in public has a number of other benefits as well. It can increase confidence, improve other aspects of interpersonal communication, promote social connections, and enhance your career.

Here are a few tips anyone can use to speak with confidence in public.

  1. Become an expert.  Your confidence will grow when you know the content inside and out and this confidence will translate into a more credible demeanor.  By going the extra mile to understand the issue from all sides, you also lower the risk of having a question throw you for a curve.
  2. Prepare, prepare, prepare.  By having a well structured speech prepared, you keep your thoughts contained and focused.  Without preparation, you risk rambling off on a tangent which may distract you and further weaken  your speech.
  3. Practice, practice, practice.  As part of your preparation, do several trial runs of your speech.  See what flows off the tongue easily and which words cause you to stumble.  Find a pace that is comfortable and a volume that will allow you to be heard by all in the room.

Despite being needed more than ever in 21st century schools and careers, public speaking is hardly ever taught in schools.  It is even more rare for the skill to be taught well. Exceptional teachers who wish to give their students a leg up will do well to incorporate public speaking skills into their curriculum.

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