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Students are often very nervous about presenting a speech to their peers. Even the most confident student may get anxious as the speech date nears. Thus it is crucial to fully prepare students to give speeches and to provide a lot of practice time as the event nears.
Let the students know once they are up in front of the class they will probably enjoy the activity. Tell them it is fun to be more active in class rather than just sitting passively and listening. Once they are in front of the class and see their friends looking at them the speech will probably become a fun event they will remember fondly.
Gather Facts and Create Note Cards
Give students time in class to gather facts about their speech topic via computer research, using the textbook, newspapers, or other books. Remind them it is crucial to have at least ten to fifteen strong facts for a five-minute speech. Creating note cards with facts helps students get focused for the upcoming speech. Tell them to not put too much information on each card. The card should serve as a prompt; they should not be reading directly from the card. Tell them to pick a strong opinion and find facts to support it.
Work in Groups: Practice Eye Contact
Once students have their key facts for the speech have them sit in groups to practice discussing the facts while using strong eye contact. Give students the hint to make sure to smile at the group before they begin speaking and to always look at the entire group as they are speaking. Sharing eye contact with everyone helps the speaker build rapport with the audience.
Circulate the Room: Give Positive Feedback
As students are working in groups circulate the room and give positive feedback to students. Tell them they look self confident and comment on the great job they are doing maintaining eye contact with the group. If a certain student needs more feedback about how to calm nerves call them over to your desk to talk to them away from the group. Tell the class that all students are nervous before speeches but typically it goes away once the speech starts.
Practice Speech with Partner
A few days before the speeches have students practice the speech with a partner. Have them sit with desks facing each other so they will have the ability to practice eye contact. Tell them to speak to their partner just as if they were presenting the speech to the class.
Have them time their speech to ensure it is long enough to meet the time requirements. Have them ask their partner if they are speaking at an acceptable rate and volume. They will also ask each other to critique the overall content of the speech and give advice.
Presenting the Speech
On the day before speeches remind students to speak for the full five minutes of the speech. Tell them to pause before they begin and look out at the class to establish eye contact. Remind them to stand up straight and to remember to speak to the class. Keep their eyes up; use the note cards as prompts. Remind them to avoid reading full sentences from the note cards. Also remind students to stick to their stated opinion and use numerous facts to support the stand they are taking.