Public speaking does not come easy to most individuals, and it can even be terrifying for some. The fear of public speaking is so widespread that organizations exist to assist individuals in becoming comfortable speaking before a crowd. However, this anxiety is frequently a problem that begins far before adulthood. It starts in school when kids must give formal presentations to their classmates, express ideas in small groups casually, and engage in class discussions.
When it comes to giving presentations and public speeches, it can be difficult for teachers to put themselves in the shoes of their learners who fear public speaking. While public speaking is among the most prevalent phobias, we sometimes overlook the anxiety that several students experience when we urge them to simply face their fears and deliver and talk before fellow students.
Some concerns regarding public speaking include:
- Most students are terrified of making an embarrassing error that they would get teased about later.
- Some students fear forgetting what to say in front of the class.
- Students also fear that no one would listen to what they had to say, making their presentation and efforts seem irrelevant.
- Several students feel uneasy being the focus of attention and shiver at the thought of being stared at by an entire class of listeners.
So, is there something you can do to help your students become more confident and competent public speakers?
Indeed – there are some simple techniques you may use in your classroom to boost kids' confidence when speaking. Here are some of them.
1. Create routines early on
Students are required to talk loudly and convey ideas, emotions, and opinions since kindergarten. Most instructors do this by asking kids about anything they are fascinated with, which is frequently done as part of a presentation. Although this is a good start, teachers can instill essential public speaking skills in their students slightly earlier by implementing a few habits.
When engaging in class, instruct students to stand, express their words, speak clearly, and utilize entire phrases. These simple reminders will help them develop solid habits and put them on the way to becoming confident, eloquent public speakers.
2. Establish performance goals
Giving a presentation entails more than just providing excellent information. Along with recommendations for what you expect your students to mention in their presentations, inform them exactly what you expect from their delivery. Before your class begins planning their presentations, discuss your marking rubric with them and precisely underline what you'll be reviewing.
Remember that you do not want to overload your students, who are already worried about talking before a group. For example, kids may be less comfortable speaking early on in the term, so pay attention to how clearly and slowly they speak. You might focus on how effectively they make eye contact with their audience throughout their next presentation. You may add another crucial skill to the rubric when your students master one public speaking component.
3. Hone their critical listening skills
Students must be effective listeners to be competent speakers. As others speak, provide children with listening directions to observe. The observations might be as basic as a list for young students. At the secondary and tertiary levels, you may provide students with extensive communication rubrics. This will enable them to judge factors like the presenter's posture and body language, loudness and pronunciation, clarity of the delivered material, and how they react to the listeners’ queries.
Students will develop a more profound knowledge of how their speeches should appear and sound by exploring what to search for in others’ presentations.
4. Give exceptional public speaking a personality
Look for age-appropriate examples of effective public speaking (films, webinars, videos) and present them to the learners. If you can't seem to find it, create a video or ask a student volunteer to serve as your model. After the students have watched the sample, lead a discussion on what the speaker did effectively.
5. Include visuals
Enabling the participants to use visual resources when presenting provides a twist and offers the listener something to focus on other than the speaker. Students will feel less apprehensive if the group has plenty to focus on, and senior students can turn to visual presentations if they want to avoid reading from a template. Integrating varied media into the presentations can also assist your students’ presentation and attention abilities.
Students of all grade levels can use media in presentations. Encourage kids in lower grades to add paintings or other pictures on whiteboards or in the form of collages. Presenters can include video elements in presentations, especially from the fifth grade and higher. Students can make media using PowerPoint or any other digital resource.
6. Perfection comes with practice
Some students flourish when they are the focus of attention. Others feel anxious and must be persuaded to participate. To alleviate the other's anxiety, make rehearsing the presentation part of the homework. It might be at home with their family, before a recording device or mirror, with a classmate, or just after school with a teacher. The more learners listen to their voices and speeches, the less anxious they will be when the big day arrives.
7. Conclude with a conference
If time permits, try to meet each student following their presentation. Tell them something they did particularly well and provide practical ideas to help them strengthen their presenting abilities. The consultation takes time, but this will help you identify a student’s worries and issues, and, most importantly, it will show them that you value their improvement.
Public speaking is a life skill that kids cannot ignore. Public speaking abilities are essential for academic and professional success. They are also a curricular requirement for students to learn before graduation. Kids need to overcome this fear at a young age for it to not become an obstacle later in their careers. A teacher can help students overcome this fear through dedicated effort and continuous encouragement.