How to Teach Public Speaking

Public speaking is one of the subjects in high school that has an affirmative answer to the often-asked question, “Will I ever use this subject after I graduate?” Almost everyone will encounter a time when public speaking will be necessary, even if only to announce church activities or to introduce a main speaker, which is why teaching public speaking is so critical. Although teaching styles will differ, several important aspects of public speaking should be included in a speech curriculum.


    • 1

      Address audience etiquette. Create a poster to hang in the front of the class to remind students of proper audience conduct, such as to listen carefully, focus on the speaker, no talking and asking relevant questions when appropriate.

    • 2

      Emphasize gestures, facial expressions and tone of voice. Give students plenty of practice perfecting these facets of speech. Use shorter speaking assignments with immediate feedback. Allow the audience to give commentary. Just be sure to remind students to use constructive criticism.

    • 3

      Give a lesson on the importance of knowing the audience when writing a speech. Tell students that crafting a speech for the audience’s level of conservatism, religious views, political views, age and even class will enhance response. Place students in groups and distribute mock demographics to each group. Give the same speech topic for all of the groups and ask each one to write a short speech (2 to 5 minutes long, depending on the length of class) based on the demographics. Afterward, discuss the differences in the presentation.

    • 4

      Teach different delivery methods. For practice giving an impromptu speech, have students pick a topic from a hat. Give them a minute in the hall to gather their thoughts before giving the speech. Make sure the topics do not require any research. Be sure to ask for a copy of the speech to read while the student is speaking. When practicing manuscript speaking (reading aloud), be sure that students maintain eye contact throughout most of the speech. Give students the most practice with extemporaneous, or planned, speaking, as this will be the style they will use the most.

    • 5

      Allow students to practice with as many different types of speeches as possible. Include not only the four main types--demonstrative, persuasive, expository and commemorative--but also various tones within these categories. Examples of different tones are humorous and serious.

    • 6

      Grade speeches is by using a speech rubric. Different speech types will require slight variations, but all rubrics should include points for gestures (hand and body movement), facial expressions (eye contact, eyebrow movement, smiling), tone of voice (adequate volume for the room), audience consideration and thorough coverage of the topic. If students are required to ask questions, keep track and add points for appropriate questions.

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