How to prepare your students public speaking

I still remember the days when I was a little girl and the teacher called me to the front of the classroom and I had to deliver an oral of some sorts in front of my classmates.

You see, I had a little fear called: glossophobia or as we call it, fear of speaking in public.

The usual advice you would get it: “Imagine your audience naked” or “look over their heads towards the back wall and imagine you are speaking to yourself” never ever worked with me! Especially the first tip, it would have me in stitches.

Now, fast forward 15 years or more and I must say my public speaking has improved drastically despite suffering from a minor anxiety attack before the deed but what if I told you there was a way you could overcome this fear yourself and also teach your students how to be brilliant public speakers.

But why do we need public speaking skills?

Well, sooner or later you will need these very special skills. Let’s face it, life happens.

Eventually, you might have to deliver a speech at your best friends’ wedding. Deliver a eulogy at a funeral. If you want to climb the corporate ladder you’ll absolutely need to deliver presentations to clients and your workmates. At universities, you’ll have to deliver oral assignments. If you apply for jobs in English speaking countries you’ll have to pass language exams which test your speaking ability. Keep in mind public speaking also relates to speaking to only one person either by means of an interview, virtual interview, pitching a business idea to your boss or a performance appraisal to name a few. The list goes on… and on… and on. Thus, students can not avoid this but they can absolutely attain the skills needed to take the bull by its horns, right?

Here are my tips and tricks for preparing students for “public speaking”.

What you’ll need is

  1. A voice recorder
  2. A mirror
  3. Time

Step 1: Purpose / Goal

Determine what the goal is. Is it to pass an interview? Is it a presentation at work your student does not feel confident delivering?

Once you are clear on the target you can decide on an action plan.

For an interview, you would ask the student to do a write-up or a summary on their background, work experience. You will correct the mistakes and make alternative suggestions by improving their vocabulary. Google Docs is great for this as it allows collaboration. The homework task would be to practice the summary after the changes and improvements have been made.

How does the student practice?

  1. In the mirror: When you can see what you look like when you hesitate or get stuck, you are more likely to correct yourself and the way you express yourself by means of body language. This also aids in memory
  2. A voice recorder: Have the student record their speech. They will be able to hear where they sound uncertain when they use a rather flat monotone sound, where they mumble or and make frequent errors.

Doing the above will not only save time but make very clear which parts need more attention and focus. This improves not only confidence but fluency, they can rely on their own instincts and improvise as needed.

When it comes to public speaking, I guess we will never get rid of our nerves. It’s completely normal to feel the fight or flight response in unusual or not common situations thus by applying these skills we can only learn how to manage these feelings or inadequacy and nervousness.

Step 2: Professional help

Students don’t have to go far to get professional insight on how to manage nerves or speaking confidently. The internet is a click away.

My personal favorite resource is Tedtalks. Using this resource is not only extremely valuable and insightful, but it’s also free!

Here is my favorite one:

Ted talk “Secret to great public speaking“ by Chris Anderson

Step 3: Practise Practise Practise

Yes, that’s right, encourage your students to practice as much as they can.

Work on a timeline, an example for the next 2 weeks you will work together on this speech or interview. Every lesson your student must deliver the oral to you, you listen and make suggestions and improvements. The student again goes home, applies these improvements and suggestions. The next lesson, the process starts again until the goal has been reached.

Step 4: Last few touches

Now, after a few weeks of extremely hard work, it’s time to add the finishing touches.

  1. Remember your opening! Stepping out in front of an audience can have you swallow your tongue. If you remember your opening, you should be able to keep with the flow of things. This ensures you to start strong and confident. Confidence is key. Once an audience can smell the lack of confidence they might not listen or be interested in what you have to say further. This rule is to be applied to any form of public speaking.
  2. Is there an audience? Make sure your body language is on point and shows you mean business. Smile! Have fun. I promise you, you don’t look as nervous as you feel Thus, practice your body language at home. Make a video if you must but make sure your body shows that you are confident.

There you have it, folks. It’s super simple, right? Yes, it’s hard work but extremely simple if done properly and if time is infested.

  • Always give positive critique and keep it light-hearted.
  • I prefer to write suggestions instead of changes.
  • Provide synonyms for overused words to make the speech more attractive.

I am confident the above tips will not only help you overcome your fear but give you the tools to help your student achieve their public speaking goals

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