Fun and Quick Public Speaking Activities
Guest Post by:
Katherine Pebley O'Neal
It's no secret that public speaking can be a a nerve racking experience for kids unaccustomed to making an oral presentation. However, with a couple of fun, low-anxiety activities your students can build confidence and reduce their anxieties about public speaking.
Here are two easy ways to introduce public speaking techniques in your classroom. The first is an activity I call "Letter Lecture." Have your students take turns "lecturing" the class by reciting the alphabet or counting to fifty. Without having to think about what they are saying, the students can concentrate on making eye contact, gesturing for emphasis, and moving around the room. Give them the goals of putting different inflections on the letters or numbers, as though they are really saying something, and of meeting each classmate's eyes at least once. As an extended challenge, have them add an opening or closing of their own creation. The "lecture" might go like this:
"Welcome, and thank you for coming to this presentation. A, BCD! E, F, G, H? I, JKL- M. NOP! Q, R, S, T, UVW? X. Y, Z? Thank you so much for your attention. Are there any questions?"
A second public speaking idea is to have your students chose from a list of imaginary creatures you have made up and put on note cards. Put a quick list of questions on the board:
- What does it look like (size, teeth, fur, scales, nose, claws, color, tail, etc)?
- Is it a mammal, reptile, amphibian, marsupial?
- What does it eat? What eats it?
- What kind of habitat does it live in?
- Does it make a sound?
- What survival characteristics does it have (flies, swims, runs, digs, camouflages, fights, etc.)
Give your students about ten minutes to make up the descriptions of their imaginary animals using your questions as a guideline, and then have them present their short reports on these creatures. The goals should be eye contact, clear speech, and confidence (content isn't important since they are the only "experts" on their subjects!). If you have extra time, they can make a picture or diagram to use as a visual aid.
If you are interested in giving your students more tools for successful public speaking, try Public Speaking: A Student Guide to Writing and Delivering a Great Speech a handy resource from Prufrock Press that explains how to write and deliver an outstanding speech in seven easy steps, written by Katherine Pebley O'Neal (that's me!) or try Speakers' Club: Public Speaking for Young People, a Toastmaster's style curriculum, also from Prufrock Press.
About this Blog Entry's Guest Author
Katherine Pebley O'Neal is a fifth grade teacher who believes that any written report deserves to become a dynamic oral presentation. She holds a master's degree in education from The Colorado College. She is the author of Prufrock's popular public speaking book, Public Speaking: A Student Guide to Writing and Delivering a Great Speech, and she is the author of four books in Simon & Schuster's The Stink Squad series. Look for short stories from Katherine Pebley O'Neal in lots of magazines for young people, and a new series of family picture books, available in 2006 from Zonderkidz, HarperCollins.