Saturday, October 27, 2012

Beginning Public Speaking In Your Classroom

Toastmasters International
Toastmasters International (Photo credit: Wikipedia)
by Richard D Boyce

This procedure will work well in all year levels from Prep to Year Seven.

When you join a public speaking club such as Rostrum or Toastmasters, you would have to do a series of speeches to develop your skill.

The first speech you would do would have the title: 'About Me'. It is regarded as the easiest speech to do because the speaker already knows the content and only needs to think about the delivery of the speech.

I always demonstrate the speech. I make sure my 'demo' is on the ideas I suggest they have in their speech and is as long as I want it. To get some interest I often make it a funny demonstration speech.

The length can vary from 20 seconds in prep to perhaps one minute in Year Seven. Thus the lesson will take from 30 to 60 minutes. I approach lower school classes differently to those in the middle school. Here is how I proceed.

Lower school

I can ask the children to:
1. Come out to the front of the room and stand beside you.
2. Introduce themselves to the class.
3. Say how old they are.
4. Mention their favourite game or their favourite food or even T.V. show.

Middle school

1. I suggest that they talk on three or four things about themselves. These should be expanded on, not just stated. They, of course, introduce themselves if I don't have a chair person.
2. Each child, after you have given the instructions, sits at their desk and writes in note form what they plan to say. (3-4 minutes only).
3. Each child has a practice alone. (2 -3 minutes).
4. Then students are paired off. Here each student does his/her speech with notes using the partner as the audience. Then he/she repeats the speech without notes. (Allow up to 10 minutes).
5. Then the class becomes the audience for all the speeches.
6. The speech must be delivered without notes. The teacher may intervene to help a struggling student by giving hints on what to say. Tell them that no one knows what they are going to say so no one knows if they have made a mistake or have made it all up.
7. Remind them to look at and to speak to their audience and that everyone wants them to make a good speech (for them).
8. For older classes, you should sit down the back of the room.
9. It is also important to teach the class how to be a good audience. In other words, what your expectations are for the audience?
10. In the upper grades, I might also have a chairperson. It is important to demonstrate the role of the chair by doing the first couple of introductions.
11. In the middle years, you could also have a time keeper with a bell.

Teacher's Role

There is a major development role for the teacher in this lesson. I always:
- Review each speech mentioning the good points first.
- Offer advice for improvement.
- Ask students in the class to offer the suggestions in the above points. However, they must be in a positive form. I, too, could add further points or clarify them.
- Comment as I go on audience participation and behaviour.

For further information on developing speaking skills for yourself and your students, go to and the eBook, "The Speaking and Listening Book". Our author, Rick Boyce, had over 45 years' experience in the classroom.

He also spent ten years as a member of a Rostrum public speaking club where he learnt the art of public speaking. During this time he reached the state finals of Rostrum's open public speaking championships, after dinner and impromptu speeches.

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