By Teachers, For Teachers
Communication is a highly valuable skill that all employers look for. However, presenting material to a public audience can be scary. Psychologists have found that for many people, public speaking is scarier than the thought of dying! As teachers, if we start to use teaching strategies that instruct our students not to fear public speaking from a young age, then maybe they won’t be one of the many people who think that it’s deathly scary. When these skills are nurtured from a young age, students won’t even be aware of the fear of being in the spotlight. Here are a few educator-tested teaching strategies to help students perfect their presentation skills.
You’ve probably heard this saying before: “Practice makes perfect.” When it comes to perfecting your students’ presentation skills, they must practice. The more that they practice, the easier it will become, and the more confidence that they’ll gain. Start small and have students take turns reading a paragraph to a partner. Then as they begin to feel more comfortable speaking aloud, have students read aloud to a small group, then a large group, then the whole classroom. By taking it slow and easing into it, students will slowly begin to feel comfortable with public speaking.
It’s also a good idea to encourage students to practice at home in front of their friends and family. They can even talk to their pet. Students can practice standing up, sitting down, while in pace, whatever way that makes them feel most at ease. This will help them feel comfortable and confident when giving their presentation.
A great way for students to perfect their presentation skills is to watch someone else give a presentation. Show students a TED Talk of expert presenter. Or, invite a professional speaker into the classroom to give students a few pointers. The more students are exposed to presentations, the better they will feel giving them. Just make sure to tell students what they should be looking for when they are watching them. Are they making eye contact? Are they humorous? Do they play to the crowd? Students should be on the lookout for all of these things that make a great presentation.
A great way for students to improve their presentation performance is to use process visualization. This is when the students visualize all of the steps that they will go through during their presentation: From preparing and rehearsing, to presenting and coping with any issues that may arise.
Try and have students practice visualizing their presentations by closing their eyes for a few minutes every day for about one week before their presentation. Have them envision walking into the room, speaking to the crowd, and feeling good about how the presentation went. The more details that they imagine the better.
In order to help students perfect their skills to present effectively, they must practice making eye contact as well as pausing when they speak. A good rule of thumb for students to follow is to pause to emphasize key words in their speech, then to look up as they pause at their audience. If students feel themselves getting nervous during their speech, make sure to tell them to take a moment and just breathe then they continue on with their presentation.
Have you ever been to a presentation and hung onto every word that the speaker said? The best presentations are the ones that engage the audience. If a presentation is filled with boring facts, then it’s easy to lose the audience. However, if it’s humorous and fun, then it’ll captivate the audience. The best way to teach students how to be an entertaining presenter is to show them know how to deliver a great presentation. You can easily do this by reshowing them a TED talk or even to bring in someone who is really good at it.
Have students practice their presentation and videotape them and have them watch it back. This is a great way for them to see firsthand what they look like from the audience’s perspective. This will also help them see what they should keep in the presentation and what they don’t need.
Public speaking is not easy for many people, but with a little practice it can become easier. All you need to do is tell your students to take all of their nervous energy and put it into their speech. When they do that, it’ll be the best speech they’ve ever done.
Do you have any teaching strategies on how to perfect students’ presentation skills? Please share with us in the comment section below, we’d love to hear from you on this topic.
Janelle Cox is an education writer who uses her experience and knowledge to provide creative and original writing in the field of education. Janelle holds Masters of Science in Education from the State University of New York College at Buffalo. She is a contributing writer to TeachHUB.com, TeachHUB Magazine, and Hey Teach. She was also the Elementary Education Expert for About.com for five years. You can follow her on Twitter @empoweringed, on Facebook at Empowering K12 Educators, or contact her at Janellecox78@yahoo.com.