The fear of public speaking, one of the most common fears, is referred to as "glossophobia" and people fear it even more than they fear death. This fear can rear its ugly head by causing a crippling condition in which the speaker has difficulty expressing himself, develops sweaty palms and starts to panic...but many professions and personal interactions involve public speaking, so it can't be avoided. Teaching your students to become better speakers will help them learn the skills necessary early in their professional developement.
Develop lesson plans that transition students from easier assignments to longer speeches. For example, the first assignment can include a slideshow in which the speakers generally read from the screen. This assignment is less intensive than a full-fledged speech, but will get students in front of the class and help them develop confidence.
Choose speech topics and oral activities that interest your students. They'll have more confidence if they're interested in the topic and will provide a more conversational approach to the speech than if you assigned a boring topic they don't care about. Some speech topics and exercises you may want to use include students talking about their favorite musical group, show and tell, future career plans or delivering a persuasive speech about a school policy. Poll your students to find out other speech topics that interest them.
Teach your students about body language. Tell them when they give their speech they should use good posture, a straight frame and raised head. They should also maintain eye contact with the crowd when delivering their speech by focusing on one person at a time and moving their gaze to another every few seconds. A catchy rap song can help your students remember different aspects of speech delivery.
Explain how you want them to deliver their speech vocally. Tell them they must articulate their words and avoid unnecessary phrases such as "um." They should have a strong voice so everyone in the class can hear and speak at a natural speed. A passionate, convincing tone can help interest and persuade others.
Let your students have plenty of time to research their topic. Regardless of how simple a concept is, students who feel more prepared and knowledgeable about their subject will give better speeches.
Write a sample speech and show it to your class. Highlight the different areas of the speech, such as the main ideas and the use of persuasive language. Have students write their own speech, using yours as a guide. They should use brief sentences, strong language and concrete examples. Students should have a main point that takes about 30 seconds to deliver and three topic sentences.
Tell students to practice their speech at home in a mirror. They should memorize the speech before they present it, but they shouldn't sound monotone, aiming instead for a natural, conversational tone.
Give students a chance to practice without a grade. Each student can present a brief speech as you complete a rubric detailing the different components you're looking for, such as body language, articulation, clear research and delivery. Give students detailed feedback so they can improve their performance before they're graded on it.
- Toastmasters International: 10 Tips for Public Speaking
- Dumb Little Man: 10 Fail Proof Tips for Delivering a Powerful Speech
- A Research Guide for Students: Presentation Tips for Public Speaking
- Scholastic: Speech Writing
- Midwest Center: 10 Most Common Phobias
- Lesson Tutor; Delivering a Persuasive Speech; Douglas Parker; Aug., 2011
- Educational Rap: Public Speaking
- Online Therapy.com: Glossophobia Treatment Therapy
- Photo Credit IT Stock Free/Polka Dot/Getty Images