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As an educator, it’s important to teach your students not just the subject immediately at hand, but also to build the skills and understanding that your students can carry forward into other learning environments in their future. From test taking skills and study habits to more general life skills like public speaking and self motivation, teaching is about guiding the next generation of students into their lives as functional members of society, and one of the skills you can help instill in your students is the ability to present and speak in public.
Public speaking and presentation skills can sometimes be difficult to teach on a wider scale, especially when you have a class with varying levels of comfort with presentation. Some people may be introverts, or even have anxiety around public speaking. However, managing those restless feelings is a part of learning presentation. While some teachers would rather throw their students right into things, it is completely possible to guide your students in the realm of presentation so they can broaden their skills and become truly comfortable. Here are eight ways you can teach your students about presentation and public speaking.
1. Show Examples
One of the best ways to ease your students into the world of presentation is to inspire them! There are so many great examples of public speaking, from the vast library of TED talks to guest speakers you can invite into your classroom. Show examples of public speaking and discuss them. See what your students have to say and how they react.
2. Use Small Groups
Practice often makes perfect, and sometimes that practice is best done when your students don’t even realize they’re practicing yet. Sure, presenting for a whole class can feel overwhelming, but breaking off into small groups can be a great stepping stone to practice the skills needed to present, but in a lower-stakes environment.
3. Reinforce Positive Feedback
The power of positive reinforcement can really do wonders for a student, both in terms of self esteem, and actual academic success. While some teachers evaluate based on areas in need of improvement, focusing first on what your students are doing right can give them something to focus on so they can keep up the good work and grow their confidence. This can especially help students who are nervous or struggling with self esteem.
4. Revisit Previous Projects
Sometimes, the best way to learn is by retracing your steps. And this can be true in the classroom as well as in the real world. Revisiting old projects can not only help students realize how far they have come, but also in understanding themselves a bit better overall throughout the process.
5. Encourage Questions
Teaching students is all about helping them learn what they’re missing, no matter what the subject at hand is. Even if students don’t have a lot of questions at first, encouraging them to think of ideas to ask questions and spark discussions can help engage them and guide them towards a better understanding, both of what they’re presenting about and the idea of presenting itself.
6. Run a Discussion-Based Classroom
Presenting is often all about learning to vocalize and express yourself in front of a classroom, and this can feel especially stark for students when the format is so drastically different in your traditional classroom. If your students are used to lectures all day long, finally getting the chance to speak can feel foreign. However, in a discussion-based classroom, your students can express themselves freely and practice their speaking skills regularly, so it won’t feel so odd when the time comes to do it more formally.
7. Practice One-On-One
Some students can be especially nervous and really do need that personalized instruction. When you encounter students like this, working with them individually can often help them get over the hurdles they need to overcome. Sometimes, speaking in front of just you can feel like a lot, but accomplishing that can give them a boost of confidence they need to catch up with their peers.
8. Use Self Evaluation
Just like looking back on past projects, self evaluation can not only help students recognize their own progress and strengths, but also guide them in the ways they need to grow in the future. Public speaking is a skill that’s ever-evolving, and building a self awareness and confidence in that skill can be useful in future projects, even if they don’t realize it yet.
Teaching Presentation Skills
Presentation skills are about so much more than just one project or assignment. They’re skills that will serve your students throughout life, so it’s especially important to think critically about how to best teach and assess them. When you engage with your students and push them to be better, they might just surprise you with how far they come.