How to Develop Public Speaking Skills and Confidence in Young Students

Public speaking is intimidating business. Being social creatures, standing up in front of a group and speaking makes us vulnerable to criticism, embarrassment and public failure. Instilling young students with confidence about their public speaking skills will serve them well throughout their lives. Teachers can help their students develop public speaking skills and confidence with repetition, exposure and games.

Teach public speaking skills

No one wants to do something in front of their peers that they don’t know how to do. Begin developing public speaking skills and confidence in your students by providing them with relevant information. Analyze videos of different public speakers and discuss what works and what doesn’t, and why. Teachers can also introduce unique aspects of public speaking, such as the Hair Part Theory. Use magazine images to demonstrate the preconceived notions of credibility that people form, based simply on appearance. Also, be sure to teach young students the proper behavior for an audience. Catcalls and criticism should not be tolerated.

Make public speaking a regular assignment

The easiest way to become comfortable speaking publicly is to do it often. Teachers can use Show and Tell as a good starting point. Most students are more comfortable talking to a group about something they are interested in or proud of. Create weekly lesson plans than incorporate public speaking. At first, some students will be frightened. Let them know that this is normal and that, over time, they will feel better about it, once they have developed some public speaking skills. 

Bring a video camera to class

As frightening as it may be, at first, video taping students as they speak publicly can help them to better understand how they look and sound. There are many other ways to use video cameras in the classroom that will help students become more comfortable with being in the spotlight. Maintaining a library of student presentations also provides students with a clear view of how much they have improved over time. The videos can be used as a year end party entertainment, comparing some of the students’ initial presentations with their more skilled and entertaining later versions.

Game shows

Game shows are excellent classroom tools for reviewing subject knowledge and students have fun participating as they become more confident in their public speaking skills. Adding a video camera allows students and the teacher to review everyone’s performance.

There are many other classroom activities that help students develop public speaking skills and the confidence needed to speak in front of a crowd. By providing these skills, teachers arm their students with the ability to succeed in other classes and in their career. Nearly everyone must speak publicly at some point in their lives. Feeling confident about their ability and having practiced basic skills in public speaking, students will be able to relax and express themselves clearly and effectively.