How Teachers Can Improve Their Students Speaking Abilities

It's no secret that most students dread when a teacher asks them to get up in front of the classroom to deliver a presentation. A recent poll from the Keynote Speaker website concluded that 72% of students hate speaking in public. This is why it is crucial that teachers begin motivating their students to learn this skill at a young age so that the fear is overcome as soon as possible. So why aren't more schools teaching this?

The fact is that many teachers are ill equipped on this topic because they themselves never truly learned the art of public speaking. If you find yourself struggling with this subject, you are not alone. Here are some tips educators can use when broaching this subject:


Kinesthesis, or kinesics, is the word used here to describe a student’s total physical makeup - the gestures, facial expressions, posture, hands, etc. Students will learn that they have to keep all of these bodily components under control during a speech.

There are hundreds of books and commercial websites that promise to teach the kinesthetic essentials; however, compiled after twenty years of classroom research, this reproducible lesson plan details the skills, that when mastered, will truly help gifted students become better speakers. As simple and straightforward as these might seem, they cover most of the basics.

The Essential Speaking Checklist:

1) Never, never start right in on your speech when you reach the podium. Look over your group; try to establish eye contact with everyone. This is called "scanning" your audience. Count to five in your head, and then go. Remember, scan first, and then begin.

2) If someone is not looking at you, just smile and stare right at him or her. Someone else will nudge them to attention.

3) Right before you begin, take a good breath through your nose. Do not open your mouth to breathe since this looks like a false start.

4) Do not make your first words "okay," "umm," or "unnn." Also, try to avoid saying "well" first. This only works if you were a president in the 1980's.

5) Do not click. Some speakers have this uncanny habit of clicking their tongues when they take a breath. Listen to a recording of yourself speaking, or ask someone else to listen for it to determine if you do this. It happens when the front part of your tongue is pressed against the front of the roof of your mouth, and then you pull your tongue down and away making a "tsssk" sound. Usually, once you become aware of the fact that you are doing this you can consciously adjust away from clicking.

6) Kinesthesis: watch your hands; keep them on the podium or behind your back, or at your side and absolutely out of your pockets. Keep your feet solidly on the floor. Do not touch your face. Try to stand straight. You might even try to smile a little!

7) Don't take a mental pause by saying "ahhh," "you know," or "okay." If you must take cerebral rest say, "All right then," it sounds more intelligent.

8) Be sure to say, "thank you" at the very end.

9) Do not rush back to your chair. After you say "thank you," take a final three-second scan.

10) For normal speeches, when you have a prepared text, do yourself a favor and memorize the first few lines of your introduction. This helps to establish rapport and calm nerves.

11) This is a bit old fashioned, but in formal situations you may want to begin your speech with a salutation, such as "Mister Chairman, distinguished friends and colleagues, Mom and Dad...” If you do use this salutatory opening, remember to prioritize your salutation starting with the generally regarded most important person listening in the audience.


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