Public speaking is a skill every student develops--but not everyone does so with confidence. Although speaking publicly has become a notion that is scary in nature, teachers rarely express its use after graduation and beyond. Whether you are giving a toast to celebrate one’s success, or you take on a career role that implements speaking at public events, public speaking is a useful tool in every aspect of life. Allow your students to embrace public speaking with stellar confidence by using these vital techniques below.
Highlight the Student’s Strengths
Positive feedback is always appreciated. Instead of focusing on a student’s weaknesses, celebrate their successful parts of public speaking. This can be something small, such as consistent eye contact, or even a larger public speaking element like voice inflection. By focusing on a student’s strengths, you will reaffirm their capabilities and allow them to evoke more self-confidence in the future.
Create a Friendly and Relaxing Atmosphere
No student could possibly remain calm when they enter the classroom and feel thick tension. Before you ever introduce the topic of public speaking, try to create a friendly and relaxing atmosphere that promotes a welcoming vibe. Consider the overwhelming and intimidating nature of public speaking. When approaching this subject with your students, make sure they feel invited to speak freely and pursue excellence without judgement. Reinforce the idea that they are there to learn, so emphasize that public speaking is not a huge deal and no student is perfect at first.
Try Small Group Discussions First
Sometimes, public speaking requires baby steps. Rather than making the first type of public speaking experience in the form of speaking alone in front of a large crowd, small group discussions could be a great option for generating and presenting ideas. While a large group of people as a crowd is incredibly daunting, a small group of five or less in an intimate audience increases the chances of students being more comfortable sharing their thoughts.
First, have small groups discuss a specific topic you have in mind. Then, try having them present their conclusions to the class as a group. Each person would only have to speak for a couple of minutes since everyone would take a turn sharing. This way, students feel less pressure while speaking in front of an audience, they develop the fundamental skills needed to speak publicly, and they learn how to organize their ideas during a more relaxing scenario.
Show Them an Intentionally Wrong Speech
Integrate an element of humor to your teaching by first showing students what not to do. This is most famously called the Intentionally Wrong Speech. To demonstrate a poor public speaking example, show the exact opposite of what students should do through a lively example. For added fun and surprise, turn the Intentionally Wrong Speech into a theatrical performance. Never make eye contact with the audience, mumble, talk really fast, speak off-topic, and show more ideas that you want your students to avoid at all costs. At the end of your Intentionally Wrong Speech, explain what specific actions were wrong and why they were incorrect.
Discuss the Topic as a Class Beforehand
It can be even less intimidating for your students if you to initiate a brainstorming phase before diving into public speaking. As you first introduce a public speaking topic, realize that your students might first require help with openly discussing ideas. By talking as a class—without having anyone speak alone and in front of the room—you will develop students’ speaking role in public speaking. Once they conquer the challenge of speaking freely, you just have to focus on instructing them to do so publicly.
However, public speaking is more than speaking openly in front of a crowd. It entails a certain amount of organization and planning beforehand.
Some Final Thoughts
Every great teacher only wishes the best for their students, especially when it comes to an intimidating topic like public speaking. While not every student will adore the process of succeeding in public speaking, these vital techniques will ensure a boost in each student’s confidence. And as you increase your students’ confidence with public speaking, you can be sure that their positive experiences will beautifully translate to the many public speaking opportunities they will have in the future.